This looks like a job for the Mask Avengers!
Volunteers producing hundreds of masks for health care workers
Last updated 4/1/2020 at 9:23am
In response to the coronavirus epidemic, locals have been making washable, reusable fabric respiratory masks for the local hospital, as well as for individuals and other organizations.
A Facebook group has even sprung up called the Mask Avengers, with posts related to mask making.
Linda Roberts is one of those making masks, having made 71 as of Monday, and with orders for more.
Roberts said those 71 masks took about a week to make, with multiple masks given to UPS drivers (Linda's husband Merle retired from UPS recently), to friends and elderly people in the Spokane and Coulee area, to a local chiropractic office and more.
Forty are going to the Colville Tribe's clinic, as well as to their senior meals deliverers.
Requests for masks have come in for senior meals deliverers in the coulee, as well as for kitchen staff at the hospital.
As a quilter, Roberts already had a lot of fabric, enough to give some out to other masks makers as well.
Donations of elastic and a moisture barrier material from community members help complete the masks, with more elastic ordered and on the way.
Roberts said she has an assembly line type of system for crafting the masks, first washing the fabric, then cutting it into a 9-by-6-inch pattern found on the website of a Deaconess hospital group in Indiana: https://www.deaconess.com/How-to-make-a-Face-Mask.
That hospital group has since created a database to connect mask makers with organizations that request them. Simple buttons on the site allow makers and requesters to enter their information.
As of Tuesday, 624 health care organizations across the United States were listed as requesters, plus more from around the world.
The website describes how the simple masks help: "While fabric masks are not to be used in the care of COVID-19 patients, according to the CDC, fabric masks are a crisis response option when other supplies have been exhausted. Fabric masks can also be helpful in other areas of patient care as supplies of [Personal Protective Equipment] are depleted."
Locally, a March 25 CMC Facebook post includes a video on making masks for medical workers. The masks can be dropped off at the "picnic tables outside CMC shop - yellow building across the highway from CMC," the post advises, with a drop-off time of Monday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Roberts said she has plenty of supplies, and others wanting to make masks can contact her at 509-631-0514 for supplies or for more info on making the masks.
"I started because my sister lives in Longview," said Roberts, who is a quilter. "She sent me the pattern... and I have this amazing stash of fabric, and I like to serve and help people. Those are my gifts, and I thought, perfect!"
Just some of the other local people who are making masks, donating supplies, or who have contributed to the Mask Avengers' Facebook page include Rita Grittner, Gloria Carrol, Karen Wright, Evylyn Wright, Dorcia Gallagher, Karren Pynsia, Kathy Clover, Lori Atwood-Allen, Marlene Oddie, Ty Tipps, and Natalie Nachtigal Dennis.
The Fabric Patch fabric and quilt shop in Ephrata is used by mask makers in the area, as well, and 160 were delivered to Coulee Medical Center made by Allison Mitchell of Coulee City.
Mitchell is the Target Zero manager for the local traffic safety region including Grant, Adams, Lincoln, and Ferry counties. With work having slowed down, she chose to take time off and work on masks, coordinating with Cindie Rang of the Fabric Patch to get masks to the north part of Grant County.
The Fabric Patch has helped distribute about 8,000 masks through the county, Mitchell said. She has made about 300 herself, at about 25 minutes each.
"I didn't have anything else to do as important as making masks," Mitchell said about taking the time off work. "I used that as volunteer time for something that pulled at my heartstrings. My grandparents were both visitors and residents at the long term care facility [at CMC], so it has a special place in my heart. The workers there have big hearts and take care of our community."
A March 25 CMC Facebook post includes a video on making masks for medical workers. The masks can be dropped off at the "picnic tables outside CMC shop-yellow building across the highway from CMC," the post advises, with a drop-off time of Monday-Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Scott Hunter also reported for this story