Crafters and 3D printers producing masks to help with supply
SNOHOMISH COUNTY — Everyday craftspeople are jumping in to sew face masks for whoever can use them to help fight medical supply shortages.
The homegrown effort comes in conjunction with the news that Mukilteo-based furniture maker Kaas Tailored and Nordstrom are working together to pump out thousands of masks, plus other personal protective equipment, needed by front-line workers at Providence.
Providence Everett is accepting donated masks such as construction masks or N95 masks, but not cloth masks, Providence spokesman Casey Calamusa said.
The state Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised people to wear non-medical cloth or fabric masks if they are in public spaces where being around other people is unavoidable, such as the grocery store.
Masks are easy to make if you already have a sewing machine, said Arlene Harrison, the president of the Snohomish County Clothing and Textile Advisors volunteer group.
“First you think, ‘what am I doing?’ and you figure it out and think, ‘I’d better get going’” on them, Harrison said.
Hundreds have been sewn by the almost five dozen members in the Textile Advisors, and that’s a small collective in the much larger crafting community.
Recipients so far include Cocoon House, which received a batch last week, and Everett-based family support nonprofit Hand in Hand.
Any agency that can use masks should reach out to the Textile Advisors, she said.
“We’re flying by the seat of our pants,” Harrison said, but someone found a pattern and someone else gathered materials. The typical quilter or sewer has fabric already on hand. “We all had a stash of fabric, and we sewed,” she said.
A mask takes two pieces for the outside, two pieces for the inside and elastic is added to fold in over the mask’s sides, Harrison described.
Separately, The Masks Now Coalition is mobilizing people nationally to sew masks. It has 101 Washingtonians actively participating as of last week, the group’s spokesman Grant Stern said.
Meanwhile, another effort uses home 3D printers to make respirator masks that contain a HEPA filter inside. The Seattle nonprofit leading the charge is called Maker Mask. The Everett School District loaned 10 printers toward Maker Mask’s cause.
Personal Protective Equipment stocks
Providence launched the 100 Million Mask Challenge in March, which the American Hospital Association has now taken national.
The masks from Kaas are sanitized before use. Providence supplied Kaas the elastics and other materials, the fabricator company said.
“Since January, Providence has been placing large orders with suppliers anticipating that it may be needed,” Calamusa, from Providence, said. The hospital system is also working a manufacturer and distributor of medical supplies, Medline, “to sterilize, recycle and redeploy procedural and N95 masks in our facilities,” Calamusa said.
The technology to widely sanitize N95 masks for reuse might be coming to Washington state, state Health Secretary Dr. John Wiesman said during an April 2 briefing.
At the state level, Gov. Jay Inslee asked for local manufacturers to make protective personal equipment such as masks, gowns and gloves.
The federal national stockpile of supplies is being depleted, and the state is working to take things into its own hands by ordering from suppliers.
“We are going to be getting millions of masks in the next four weeks — literally,” Inslee said Thursday, April 2. The state is purchasing masks from international sellers.
He said it’s unfortunate Washington state is competing against the 49 other states for equipment. He called on President Donald Trump to exert power to mandate manufacturers make equipment.
Inslee’s statements during an April 2 briefing imply that he fears the state may be left to fend for itself. “We can’t rely on the federal government to help us,” Inslee said.
The Masks Now Coalition has free patterns at www.masksnow.org
Maker Mask has details on how to make a 3D mask at www.makermask.com
Simple instructions on how to make a cloth mask: tinyurl.com/CommunityFaceMask
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