As personal protective equipment shortages (PPE) loom in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, artisans, craftspeople, and DIYers are helping to combat the disease with homemade face masks—for themselves and others.
Faculty and Staff at NBSS recently donated several boxes of PPE to Boston Healthcare for the Homeless Program, helping them to safely sustain their vital activities during the COVID-19 crisis. (Check out the great news coverage here and here.) As medical professionals like these struggle without much-needed equipment, craftspeople all stripes—from knitters and dressmakers to woodworkers and metalsmiths—wondered how they could leverage their skills for those in need. The answer was simple: crafting handmade face masks.
Everyone from high-profile fashion designers to crafting communities are pitching in to help combat the shortage of essential supplies. JoAnn Fabric and Craft Stores is the latest to help by giving away free at-home mask-making kits for people to complete and donate to hospitals.
Though so-called "N95" respirator masks are the only surefire method to shield against the virus, these DIY masks may offer some limited protection—only as a last resort and only to prevent droplet transmission. They also may be effective in stopping you from touching your face, which we all know is challenging. What's more, the Department of Human Services estimates that the U.S. will go through 3.5 billion surgical masks in the course of the next year. A staggering number, and one that may be offset in some way by handmade masks for non-medical personnel.
So, should you make your own DIY face mask? Though they a third less effective than surgical masks (depending on fit), some protection is better than none. If you're sick and coughing/sneezing, they also will help minimize your ability to spread airborne droplets to others.
Check out @nbssboston for more information about how you can help in the fight against coronavirus, including a virtual mask making meetup. For up-to-date COVID-19 info related to the School, make sure to visit nbss.edu/covid19.
Image above provided by Kristen Odle, NBSS Retail and Exhibitions Manager, with thanks to Studio Carta and Gather Here for their expertise and materials.