Volunteers busy making masks to protect community

For the past few weeks Carli Taylor and her mom Lori Thompson have been holed up in a makeshift sewing studio that was once Thompson’s guest bedroom, whipping up fabric face masks.

The mother-daughter duo has already made 400 of the masks which are donated to local hospitals and other facilities, and they plan to keep on going.

Taylor, who doesn’t sew, helps with the cutting, pinning and pleating and then hands them over to Thompson at the sewing machine.

“We’ve got it down pat now,” Taylor said.

The demand for masks has increased dramatically after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said everyone should cover their faces in public for help control the spread of Covid-19. The masks prevent the wearer from spreading the disease to others.

As of Friday, there were 103 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Wicomico County and one death from the disease. 

About 10 members of the Samuel Chase Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution in Salisbury – who are isolated at home with extra time on their hands — also have been busy sewing masks, said regent Dottie Semotchko.

Using fabric that they had on hand or some that was donated, chapter members have sewn enough masks to donate to Peninsula Regional Medical Center, Atlantic General Hospital and at least two local nursing homes, she said.

Semotchko’s husband Jack, who worked in the apparel industry and once ran sewing factories, has even been pressed into service. So far, he has made about 75 masks.

Another DAR member, Judy Halter, was up to about 150.

“As a group, we’re doing pretty good,” she said.

The DAR members put each mask in a plastic sandwich bag with a DAR label affixed to the front.

Masks are sewn from cotton fabric – the type used for quilting – with elastic ear loops attached on either side. The sides are pleated to ensure the mask fits over the face. Some sewers also are inserting pieces of pipe cleaners or wire inside so the mask wearer can fit it snuggly over the bridge of the nose.

At PRMC, the donated masks are needed for nonclinical staff members who do not have direct contact with patients, said hospital spokeswoman Gwenn Garland.

Donated masks are laundered before they are handed out, and then staff members are instructed to wash them on a regular basis after that, she said. The donations have been “substantial.”

“I’m incredibly impressed by members of the community’s ability to sew,” Garland said.

The hospital has posted instructions for how to make the masks on its website: peninsula.org/covid-19-donations.

Lori Thompson and Mask No. 100.

Taylor, who has six children at home ranging in age from 4 to 15, has tried to stress to them the idea of community service. In January, she started the Facebook group Be A Blessing in which she has posted the kids’ projects that included making gift baskets for the staff at the Salisbury Fire Department, the Salisbury Police Department and Glen Avenue Elementary School.

With the coronavirus outbreak, she now has them writing notes and drawing pictures to place in the bags with the masks. Being isolated at home has been tough on the kids, and it has been hard to explain to them what’s going on, so their involvement in the project is important, she said.

“It shows them this is how a place can come together,” Taylor said. “This has been more rewarding for me than anything.”

Helpful Coronavirus links

Maryland Department of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage

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