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People are sewing handmade fabric masks, amid nationwide mask shortage

Crafty people across Hampton Roads are doing what they can to help during the COVID-19 pandemic.

NORFOLK, Va. — Many people are doing their part to help in any way they can during the COVID-19 outbreak. That includes sewing DIY face masks.

Amid a nationwide shortage of medical face masks, dozens of people are at home sewing their own out of fabric and donating them to medical facilities and people in need.

It started with a call for help on Facebook.

Dozens of people across Hampton Roads responded, including Norfolk resident Linda Watson Glenum who worked for three days sewing 75 masks.

“There’s not a whole lot that people like me can do help," Glenum said. "I’m not a doctor, I’m not a nurse, I don’t work in the medical field so this is kind of my part that helps people stay safe from contracting the virus. It’s not much but what else are we doing?”

Beth Dryer of 757 Creative ReUse Center is helping lead the efforts. She said the masks are going to secondary-line healthcare workers and anyone else who needs them.

“The last person who picked up while I was still there was somebody from Meals on Wheels,” Dryer said. “I love that the community is coming together to do this and I think it’s one of those things, when this is all done, we’ll be able to look around and say we all did our part."

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Many people and health care professionals around the world are turning to homemade fabric masks.

Monday, Sentara Healthcare officials said in a statement that protective clothing company London Bridge Trading is sewing surgical masks for the hospital.

The statement read, “We are accepting hand-sewn masks at our Sentara hospitals to be used in conjunction with other personal protective equipment.”

Glenum says although they may not be as good as certified medical equipment, a homemade alternative is better than nothing. 

“This is something that really can have an impact," Glenum said. "I know they’re not the ‘hoity-toity’ masks but if someone like myself has a cough, I could use them myself but for other places that can’t get the masks, it’s better than nothing. It’s better than a bandana.”

Dryer says as of yesterday, the center has distributed 350 masks and they’re going to keep going as long as they have supplies.

If you need a mask or you want to help sew masks, check out 757 Creative ReUse Center's Facebook page.

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