We have all heard about the severe shortages of protective masks for hospitals and health care workers. And last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began to urge Americans to wear cloth masks in an effort to prevent coronavirus spread.

Lea Ann Burau and Paula Streiff are sewers, and they have reached into their fabric supplies to make masks in response to local needs. They produced 30 cloth masks for Auburn Homes caregivers, others for nurses and clinicians they know, some for family, and are also trying to fulfill other requests.

“It’s not a mass production process,” Burau said, “and we recognize that we don’t have the materials nor are we able to meet the requirements to make protective masks for hospital workers. But we are trying to help where we can.”

With state-mandated stay at home orders in place, the women aren’t rushing out to buy fabric or elastic, but they point out that most sewers and quilters have a stash of fabric at home, so they are working through that to make masks.

While not a prevention against coronavirus, cloth masks can provide some protection, along with social distancing. More importantly, the CDC states cloth masks can prevent the wearer from unknowingly spreading the disease when in public. Individuals should wear face coverings in public settings like grocery stores, according to CDC guidance.

Burau said her masks are simple: two pieces of fabric sewn together and attached with elastic. It takes about five minutes to make a mask. She also has made scrub hats. Ridgeview Hospital has requested those, so the women will be making more as well.

There are many sewer and quilters in the area, Burau notes, so she and Streiff probably aren’t the only ones making masks.

For her, she said: “I’m home, I have time, and that’s what I’m doing.”

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