MARYLAND (WMAL) – With medical masks in short supply, some people are getting creative. Instead of sitting idly at home waiting for her events company to be able to do business again, Dawn Crothers, founder and creative director of Something Vintage Rentals in Temple Hills, Maryland, and her employees and volunteers are sewing masks to donate to hospitals in the D.C. metro area.
“We’re trying to do our part and give back while we don’t have any business, and, yeah, it seems like people in the hospitals are very receptive to it, and so it’s just something we can do rather than being cooped up and wondering when this is gonna end,” Crothers said.
Around the country masks and other personal protective equipment are becoming difficult to find and costly to purchase. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a press conference Sunday, masks that used to cost $.085 now cost $7. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Monday the state is developing a $5 million fund to provide incentives to Maryland small businesses to manufacture masks, personal protective equipment and other supplies to immediately help meet the critical demands of the state’s healthcare workers. It’s unclear if businesses like Something Vintage Rentals would qualify for that money.
Crothers said she didn’t know how to sew before this. In fact, she failed a class she took last year. She figured it couldn’t be that hard, so she and her husband borrowed a machine, watched a YouTube video and got sewing.
They are using mostly quilting cotton because that’s what she said is widely available, but she found lists online of other materials that can be used including HEPA vacuum bags and dish towels.
While disposable masks are in very short supply around the country, elastic to make re-usable masks is also getting hard to come by according to Crothers.
“I hope people can find more elastic as the demand increases. I know, like, a lot of the stores here are wiped out, and Amazon is wiped out too,” Crothers said.
She had ordered elastic before the rush and recently found some on Etsy and Overstock and at local fabric stores.
Some crafters who can’t find elastic are using sewn strings instead according to Crothers.
She and her husband have personally made about 25 masks since the weekend, but all the people she is working with have probably made around 100 Crothers said. It takes her 15 to 20 minutes per mask, but she noted that she is a novice.
Around 11 of the 20 hospitals she contacted agreed to take the masks, according to Crothers, including BridgePoint Hospital Capitol Hill.
While people around the country are spending their newly-found spare time sewing masks, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on its website healthcare providers should use homemade masks to care for Coronavirus patients as a last resort when other face masks aren’t available.
“However, homemade masks are not considered PPE [personal protective equipment], since their capability to protect HCP [health care providers] is unknown. Caution should be exercised when considering this option,” the website states.
The CDC said homemade masks should ideally be used in combination with a face shield that covers the entire front and sides of the face.
To learn more about making homemade masks and how to help, click here.
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