Salmo woman starts Facebook group to organize mask-makers

Hopes to ease mask shortage for Kootenay first responders and essential service workers.

A Salmo woman is gathering an army of seamstresses to make masks to help local first responders and essential workers deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jessica Mitchell, who’s immune-compromised herself and staying isolated, recently heard of the looming shortage of surgical masks and other medical supplies.

“I saw a post, it was coming from the U.S. asking people to do that,” she says. “I was surprised there were no local groups doing this for our local community.”

She decided to do something about it.

Mitchell started a Facebook group to see if there was any interest, and the response in just one day has been overwhelming.

“I am just shy of 230 members who are working on making masks,” Mitchell told Castlegar News on Tuesday, March 24. “I started the group yesterday, so it’s really taking off, the response has been incredible.”

SEE: B.C. care providers say masks, medical supplies ‘drying up’ due to COVID-19 concerns

Mitchell emphasizes it’s not just her organizing this. Friends like Teresa Wiedrick and others have helped make it happen.

“They have been an integral resource and we’re all in this together,” she says.

Mitchell says people can find designs for masks online, and can work up the masks from there. She says it’s not too complicated, and a person can create quite a number of masks every day.

“From what I understand they are very easy to make,” she says. “They don’t use a ton of fabric and you can make one pretty quickly.”

“There are different templates online, I am in contact with a lot of health workers who are coming to a consensus on the best styles that they are looking for,” she says.

This is still in the early stages — Mitchell’s only been running with this for a day, after all — but she says she’s been hearing from health officials about her mask-making drive.

The big problem, of course, is the need for sterility. Medical equipment has to be of a high standard that home-made mask makers just can’t meet.

But Mitchell says there are still uses for her group’s masks.

“We have not got the go-ahead from Infection Control, which was expected,” she says. “But nurses and people on the front line are saying we do need them. So it’s becoming more of a personal choice for them to bring them to work.

“And they can use them when they go home to be with their family.”

She says the system really can’t give the official OK to use the masks, but individual health-care workers are deciding if and when to use them.

“We also got lots of orders from seniors homes, as well as for first responders, emergency services have asked for them. And we are reaching out to essential service providers like grocery stores to offer them to their staff.”

Over the next few days Mitchell hopes to organize the requests for masks with the creators making them, to co-ordinate who will send what to each group in need.

Anyone is welcome to join her group to take part in the sewing bee.

SEE: Homemade Masks for Hometown Heroes (FB page)

Mitchell says anyone needing the masks is welcome to contact her through the Facebook page to see if her group can help.

“It’s really important right now, we’ve never been so dependent on each other, to be healthy, to keep healthy and safe,” she says. “And I love we are giving an opportunity for people who are practicing social distancing at home an opportunity to help those who don’t have that opportunity.

“I think it’s a great way to involve the community from a distance.”



reporter@rosslandnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Needing masks isn’t new. A public service ad from 1918, showing people how to make a rudimentary face mask to try to avoid the deadly influenza. (Contributed photo).

Just Posted

SD 51 aims to reach students online, working with families to get access to tech

Teachers have been contacting families directly to talk over students’ needs, outlook for e-education

FortisBC offers 90-day bill deferrals to customers impacted by COVID-19

Customers can apply for the relief program through the utility’s website

Grand Forks and Boundary cancellations, changes due to COVID-19

This newspaper’s list of community events, institutions that change or cancel due to pandemic

Christina Lake, Rock Creek cannabis growers see shared opportunity

Two companies in the Boundary have signed a letter of intent to work together in industry

Snowpack measurements ‘promising’: RDKB

Measurements show Boundary snowpack just high of average range

COVID-19: 4 new deaths, 25 new cases but only in Vancouver Coastal, Fraser Health

A total of 1,291 people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus

B.C. secures motel, hotel rooms for COVID-19 shelter space

Community centres, rooms reserved for pandemic self-isolation

Sanders drops 2020 bid, leaving Biden as likely nominee

Sanders plans to talk to his supporters later Wednesday

B.C. faith leaders, Horgan discuss need for virtual religious ceremonies

Leaders were open to providing other ways to celebrate during the pandemic

Emergency COVID-19 funding now available for children with special needs

Funding to be used to help support families through uncertain times of pandemic

Revenue dip needed to qualify for wage subsidy drops to 15% in March: Trudeau

Wage subsidy would over 75% of each employee’s salary for qualifying businesses

B.C. closes all provincial parks for COVID-19 protection

Easter weekend approaches, camping already closed

Air Canada says it will apply for wage subsidy to rehire workers after cutting 16,500 jobs

Air Canada said March revenues fell by more than 30 per cent year over year

Most Read