People across Borderland are sewing masks for health professionals

Coronavirus

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM)– Some Borderland residents are taking it upon themselves to craft and sew face masks for medical professionals as COVID-19 continues to spread.

National retailer JOANN Fabrics and Crafts is providing free material kits and instructions to volunteers to craft masks for healthcare workers.

Meanwhile, others are using their own materials and sewing skills to create masks. One woman who works for Veteran’s Affairs said she’s just trying to make as many as she can for community members.

This comes as a response to reports across the country saying hospitals in areas where COVID-19 is widespread has limited hospitals to the supply of FDA approved N95 respirators and surgical masks.

However, the homemade masks aren’t the N95’s.

“It’s not tested, I can’t guarantee anything or whatever but I figured it can’t hurt, but the biggest deterrernt is peope inadvertntly touch their face, if you have a mask on it’s going to keep you from touching your face,” Domko said.

Others across the Borderland are doing their own part to join the initiative. From Facebook groups to those using the material kits from JOANN Fabrics to make the masks.

“We’re looking to make pretty close to 100-150 mask packets per day which is going to consist of 500 masks on a daily basis,” Burnell Grayson, JOANN El Paso store manager said.

However, Dr. Armando Meza, the Chief of Infectious Disease at Texas Tech University Health Science Center of El Paso, said since these are not the tested N95’s they may not offer high-grade protection.

“The surgical masks that people are wearing, for the most part, were not designed to protect in the way the N95’s do,” Dr. Meza said.

Local hospitals said they aren’t experiencing a PPE (personal protective equipment) shortage as of now but they do recognize the health professionals across the country in hard-hit areas are burdened with a decline in material.

“One of the measures hospitals are currently looking at is the ability to reuse these face masks because theres a shortage for the surgical and N95 masks,” Dr. Meza said.

In a statement, the El Paso VA Health Care System said:

“The El Paso VA Health Care System is not experiencing a critical shortage of masks at this time. We have masks available for all of our providers and for any Veteran displaying flu like symptoms that requests one as they are coming into any of our facilities. The health and well-being of our staff and patients remain our top priority. We encourage the public to follow us on our official Facebook page for the daily COVID-19 updates as they develop and remain committed to serving our Veterans in the safest way possible.”

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