East Texans make reusable masks for first responders, medical professionals amid shortage

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Published: Mar. 23, 2020 at 9:21 PM CDT
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BULLARD, Texas (KLTV) - With medical supplies running very low — and much needed to combat coronavirus — East Texas community members have taken it upon themselves to help fill the gap in the nationwide shortage due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Megan Skeeters has transformed the embroidery machine she uses for her business into a medical-mask-making machine to help those on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak.

“We’re making them at my home right now,” said Skeeters. “We are offering these free to medical workers, in the area, to give back to the medical community.”

Skeeters said she’s seen lots of people trying to find ways to help.

“It’s heartfelt that people want to come together and help us,” said Josey Nowell, a registered nurse in East Texas. “We don’t have a job we can stay home from or pick and choose when we work. When the community needs us, we’re there for them, so to know the community is there for us in return is really great.”

Another East Texan trying to help is Kelli Burton, a former seamstress, now nurse and the director or marketing at Hospitality Health ER.

“In the lining, you’re able to put a filter in there — you can use things like a coffee filter to the material masks are made of — that can be inserted,” said Burton. The masks are washable and the filter can be replaced every day."

“It’s something we cannot run out of quickly,” said Nowell. “We can reuse them and have that first layer of protection and wash them and get them clean and put new filters in them. These can be used over and over again, it’s a great resource.”

Skeeters is using a commercial machine to make masks, but both she and Burton said to make the masks with a regular sewing machine is not hard to do.

“I’ve seen tons of patterns online, if you have a normal sewing machine,” said Skeeters.

“It takes about 20 mins to make one, cutting it and sewing it myself,” said Burton. “They’re not very difficult to make.”

Although the masks do not prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended medical professionals use the resources available to them, including scarves, coffee filters, and cut-up cotton fabrics.

If you or someone you know would like one of the reusable masks, you can message Simply Adorable Gifts by visiting their Facebook page.

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