As supplies of PPE (personal protective equipment) are becoming more and more scarce, healthcare providers are working hard to find options that will allow them to continue to care for patients safely. People who have supplies of surgical masks and N-95 respirators are urged to donate them to nearby hospitals and healthcare providers. Another option is the use of homemade masks.
Homemade masks are allowed by CDC recommendations as a last resort for care of patients with COVID-19 in settings where facemasks (either surgical masks or N-95 respirators) are not available. These masks are NOT considered PPE and are ideally used in combination with a face shield that covers the entire front and sides of the face.
For people who have the time and talents to sew, multiple patterns are available online for sewing facemasks. A good option is: https://freesewing.org/blog/facemask-frenzy/. This is a worthwhile task, but please use the fabric “stashes” you already have and do not go shopping for new material. We are working on the best ways to collect homemade facemasks and get them to the places that need them most; more details will be coming soon.
Please remember that the CDC does not recommend that people without symptoms wear facemasks, unless they are caring for someone with COVID-19. Sick people should stay home unless seeking medical attention, and should wear masks to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 to others.