Homemade face masks on the rise as medical need grows

UofL, Norton waiting for CDC guidance on how to use them

Homemade face masks on the rise as medical need grows

NEW ALBANY, Ind. (WAVE) - Doctors and nurses across the country are in desperate need of medical masks. As the need grows, people who aren’t sick are being asked not to buy them, leading to the rise of homemade masks for people who want to protect themselves and their neighbors.

“Yeah, I don’t know, it’s kind of bitter," Diann Smith said.

Smith is the owner of Ben Franklin Crafts in New Albany, Indiana. Since the coronavirus outbreak, her business has been booming. She told WAVE 3 News dozens of people have come in looking for fabric and elastic.

“We started selling a lot of fabric and then the elastic was being sold at the same time, and the customers are all coming in here," Smith said. "They’re making face masks.”

People have been making so many masks that Smith is now out of stock. She’s also been forced to close her doors, due to Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb’s “stay at home” order, which takes effect at 12 a.m. Wednesday. The order temporarily closes all non-essential businesses in Indiana until April 6. It means Smith and her husband have to hit pause on the arts and crafts.

“I just hope everybody stays safe, I really really do," she said.

Marcia Sumler shares that mindset. She’s making masks to give away to receptionists and cleaning staff who need an extra line of protection.

“My sister-in-law, I saw where she was going to start making them," Sumler said. "I thought that’s something, I’ve got plenty of fabric, I can do.”

Jessalin Evans has been making and selling her masks to people around the community who want or need them. She told WAVE 3 News it’s a way for her to help her community and put a few dollars back in her pocket, since she and her husband were laid off.

“It’s going to be really nice to use a craft we both possess to help the community stay safe," Evans said.

But how effective are homemade masks?

Spokespersons for both the University of Louisville and Norton Healthcare told WAVE 3 News doctors are still awaiting guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) on how to properly use them, and what benefits they may have. That said, they are still encouraging people to make and donate them.

According to an article from USA Today, the homemade masks can prevent the spread of some germs, but are not designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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