CHICAGO (CBS) — Mask shortages threaten health care workers on the front line of the coronavirus crisis, but the CBS 2 Morning Insiders found one group literally trying to stitch together a solution.
As CBS 2’s Lauren Victory reported, they need your help.
The mask makers may not exactly be using cutting-edge technology, but they are cutting edges in the literal sense.
And that’s exactly the point.
Lindsay Stearns is threading a needle between a timeless craft and a time-sensitive problem.
“The virus can actually stay within the elastic,” she said.
COVID-19 is draining medical supplies quickly, so the clothing construction major turned designer grabbed extra fabric and got to work.
She is part of a growing group of Chicagoland sewists called American Strong Masks.
There’s also Marilyn in Elgin; Becky from Poplar Grove; and Jennifer, Heather, and Irina in Batavia. All have been tapped by American Strong Masks creator Jake Sugrue, whose wife works in health care.
“I want to make sure that she’s protected as much as we can,” Sugrue said, “and it doesn’t get much more personal than that.”
One of Sugrue’s initial recruits was Marge Macao. She usually makes window treatments but switched gears to help crank out 120 masks for a suburban assisted living facility.
Afterward, an order of almost 500 came in. And just this week, there was a request for more than 4,000.
“We need more people,” Sugrue said.
The Illinois Wildlife Crafters just signed on. Almost 600 members are used to sewing for animals, but saw the human need for personal protective equipment, or PPE.
“We want to be really clear that this by no means is proper PPE,” Sugrue said. “This is to serve as an absolute last resort.”
Stearns tweaked a pattern she found online so it would follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.
She said to use 100 percent cotton if you can.
If you don’t sew, you can help a friend who can by cutting the material – which is half the process.