Manitobans make homemade face masks amid the pandemic

By | April 4, 2020

WINNIPEG — The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a shortage of personal protective equipment like face masks in the province.

With N-95 masks being reserved for front line workers, some Manitobans are taking matters into their own hands and sewing homemade masks for people in the community.

Manitobans like Colleen Taylor, a stay at home mom and former nurse, said the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning to make her feel helpless, and she wanted to contribute.

“Masks made sense to me,” said Taylor. “Even if they weren’t the hospital kind.”

Taylor said she found a tutorial on YouTube explaining how to sew masks made from fabric. She’s now making them to protect herself and others.

“Obviously, we’re all washing our hands. Obviously, we’re social distancing,” she said.

“But sometimes we have to go out and we have to get (close) to people.”

Taylor said the homemade masks she delivered to the people who live in her Mother’s assisted living home were well received.

She also made some masks for friends in the medical profession.

Ida Whitford has been sewing since she was 13-years-old, and like Taylor, decided to start making masks.

She said she saw her friends in B.C. making homemade masks, and wanted to do the same.

“I decided to make some to donate to Portage Hospital and Dakota Tipi [First Nation],” said Whitford.

Whitford said she made masks for a friend at the Grace Hospital, and is getting requests online from friends and family to make more.

The Province of Manitoba said there’s a possibility of a benefit to wearing homemade masks in public, but said masks shouldn’t give the public a false sense of security. 

“If you prefer to wear one of these masks, don’t let that make you feel safe to loosen up on your physical distancing strategies,” said Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief public health officer.

On Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control Prevention recommended U.S. citizens begin wearing cloth face-masks in public settings where physical distancing strategies are hard to maintain.

The province continues to deliver the message that Manitoban’s should stay home as much as possible, with or without a mask.

Whitford said it makes her happy to make masks for people.

“I just want to help. I know I’m only one person, but I can help a little bit,” she said.

Taylor feels the same, and she isn’t stopping anytime soon.

“Whoever needs them, I’ll keep making them,” said Taylor.

“As long as people keep asking for them.”

Saturday, the province announced it would be collecting and sterilizing gently used N-95 respirators from all clinical areas in an effort to maintain a healthy supply of personal protective equipment (PPE).

All soiled, wet, damp, or stained masks will continue to be thrown out. 

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