DeKALB – Face masks, especially the N95, are in short supply worldwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
To help protect healthcare workers and the community from the coronavirus, residents of DeKalb County have started making homemade face masks.
Angela Johnson of DeKalb bought more than 20 yards of material from Hobby Lobby, spending more than $90 on fabric the last day the store was open. She has made about 20 face masks so far and is working on more than 50.
Johnson has been making the face masks in her spare time. Due to COVID-19, her son Jordyn Jackson was unable to have a party for his 12th birthday, so Johnson has been decorating her house and doing Mario-themed crafts with her son to celebrate.
Johnson has been giving the masks she has made to healthcare workers and people with illnesses, such as cancer. She gives the masks away for free and asks for any donations to be made to DeKalb County Community Gardens.
“I wanted to do something to help others,” Johnson said. “It’s only one way we can pay it forward. It’s not only me, there are a lot of people in the community doing the same thing.”
Donna Klemm of Cortland is another crafter that has been making face masks at home. People contact Klemm on Facebook and pick up the masks they request on her front porch, separated in clear resealable bags with hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes nearby. A donation box is next to the bin to help cover the cost of material and supplies.
Klemm has made more than 70 face masks so far, using fabric and crafting supplies she had at home. She said that after days of making masks, it now takes her about 12 minutes to make one, using two layers of 100% cotton material, elastic and her sewing machine.
“I’ve been making the masks as fast as I can,” Klemm said. “I can’t keep up with the demand, everyone wants the masks for protection. I only ask for a small donation to help with the purchase of more supplies. Some people leave quarters, others dollars. It’s not about making money, it’s about helping people that need help and protection. »
Klemm said she knows that homemade masks are not medical grade, but “something is better than nothing.”
“It’s important to have some protection,” Klemm said. “There is a shortage on masks at the moment, and for me, it’s essential to help any way I can.”
According to the Center for Disease Control, homemade masks are not considered personal protective equipment (PPE), since their capability to protect is unknown.
Rob Stoll of Kirkland said he makes homemade face masks because it’s “something we can easily make to protect ourselves and others. »
“Face masks offer more control over the coronavirus we have no control over,” Stoll said. “Everyone is trying to practice social distancing and protect others. There’s such a crucial need for PPEs, making the masks is just something we can to do help.”
Stoll has made 25 masks so far and is working on 20 more. Stoll is a member of the DeKalb County Quilters Guild, which made 217 face masks in two days.
“We’re giving the masks to smaller health care organizations that won’t get a supplies first, the way larger hospitals would,” Stoll said. “The members of the quilters guild are taking what we love to do and helping our neighbors and the community we live in.”
Each of the homemade mask makers use colorful material with patterns and designs. As the crafters’ supply of elastic runs low for the masks, some are now using elastic hair bands. Mask designs Johnson chose include stethoscopes and hearts and an American flag, Klemm chose American flag and Easter designs and Stoll uses a variety of designs, including Easter, sports and Mickey Mouse.
“In the store, I looked for happy, cheerful colors for the masks that would catch your eye,” Johnson said. “I loved the American flag design because it reminds us that we’re all united in this together. We’re all doing what we can to help others during this difficult time.”