Day Six, Masks: DIY are Better than Nothing

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Well, maybe not this particular model.

I’ve been wanting to post something on this topic since my last shopping trip and have been gathering some reputable resources to share. This is pretty much an information dump, and hopefully for any of the handful of people who might read it, old news? If not, I’ll try to keep it simple.

Of course you should wear a mask when going out to any of our “essential service” purveyors, specifically the jam-packed grocery stores, and from now on if possible, I’m not going to go into a store with un-masked workers. Anyone who thinks about the urgings for us to cough into our elbows or a tissue knows that the healthcare community is hoping by doing so you’ll stop some of your droplets instead of spraying them freely into breathable space.

This article does a thoughtful examination of how we came to think that wearing masks would be of no avail. In a nutshell, to forestall panic-buying of an inadequate supply of an essential product, we were told that masks aren’t effective and should be saved for medical staff, the latter being absolutely true in our situation. Also, that we didn’t know how to use them properly. The unfortunate result is that many people continue to believe that other than N95, masks are useless.

Of course, because of this shortage you likely don’t have a mask at home. I’m fortunate to have 3 construction-grade, purchased as a package from Ace during our last summer’s home flood and subsequent month of mold mitigation. I’m reusing one for store-runs; the other 2 are in case one of us gets sick.

Most people I know don’t have any.

Hospital workers are now reusing masks while they wait for wildly-promised supplies (why won’t P.T. order factories to make more?) and in Los Angeles hospitals have started to put out calls for home-sewn backups! Yes, SOME MASK is better than none. Here is a run-down on efficacy for such masks, “Can DIY Masks Protect Us from Coronavirus?” Again, no one claims they provide BEST protection, but until better masks are widely available, some is better than none.

So . . . if you have a sewing machine, they can be sewn. Here are some simple-to-follow directions. There are other examples given a quick google search. I imagine they can also be hand-sewn?

Should this sound like a terrific project for you people-of-the-thread with time on your hands, I’m sure you know plenty of people who might appreciate a family pack. Someone on our NextDoor group who is sewing for medical use, put out a call for 1/4″ elastic and 100% cotton fabric. She got immediate response–as well as a bit of “DIY masks don’t work!” hysteria.

They Help. You can help. I have a simple, portable sewing machine. If you are someone who I know who could use it productively and generously, get in touch with me. (I am only adept with a seam ripper, unfortunately). Perhaps get in touch with your local Food Kitchen, church, or other community outreach. Might they want some? Might their service populations benefit? Unfortunately, this is another case where those who are living paycheck to paycheck are even further at risk.

Lastly, to take a quote from the first article by Dr. , “masks are an important signal that it’s not business as usual as well as an act of solidarity. Pandemics require us to change our behavior — our socialization, hygiene, work and more — collectively, and knowing our fellow citizens are on board is important for all efforts.” No shame, and no shaming. Not everyone, shamefully, can hope to have access.

Do what you can. Make a mask, or more.

Stay safe~

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