Editor’s Note: This is an updating list, with new brands making cloth and fabric face masks every day.
Hospitals are fighting a battle. There’s a dangerous shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as surgical masks and N95 masks which healthcare workers desperately need in the fight against coronavirus. These medical-grade masks help shield these vital workers from bacteria and viruses which can be transmitted through the air, via moisture droplets in which the novel coronavirus survives.
Unfortunately, droves of non-health workers are buying these masks for themselves in bulk. This panic buying further depletes the shortage, ultimately forcing healthcare workers to re-use PPEs and even use alternatives like scarves and bandanas, neither of which the CDC recommends. This leads to a greater risk of infection and puts health workers at a major disadvantage when confronting coronavirus patients daily. If these vital workers get sick, they’re unable to work and possibly get their patients and coworkers sick.
In a recent article published on Refinery29, Shannon Sovndal, MD, an EMS medical director based in Boulder, Colorado recommend that everyone wear a face mask. Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci has also discussed the possibility of advising the general public to wear masks daily. This has the potential to make the current shortage of medical-grade face masks much worse.
Apparel brands like Everlane, Buck Mason and Los Angeles Apparel have heard the call and have been driven to help, pivoting their factories and sewers to produce masks for purchase and for donating to hospitals. Though many of these masks are not CDC-approved, there have been studies that suggest these are better than nothing at all, with common household materials being up to 96 percent effective in filtering out harmful particulates.
These non-medical grade masks provide some protection to the general public while helping to allocate the sorely-needed CDC-approved surgical and N95 face masks to first responders and medical workers. Though plenty of home sewers and even healthcare professionals have provided DIY instructions for making your own masks at home, if you have the means to afford to buy a mask, here are some brands making and donating masks.
The CDC updates its guidelines and recommendations on masks regularly. To read the latest guidelines, click here.