It was good to see an article on the cover of The Ellsworth American two weeks ago advising all Americans to wear face masks in public. Anyone can be spreading the COVID-19 virus without showing any symptoms. Respiratory droplets. from a sneeze, cough or just breathing are the primary way this disease spreads. Face masks are most effective when worn by an infected person to protect others. Right now, the 6-foot distance between you and everyone you meet is the most important thing you can do but wearing a mask can provide some extra protection. The mask also can serve as a reminder to keep your hands away from your face.
I’ve always looked at my attitude and behavior as being part of a problem or part of the solution. Therefore, I decided to start making face masks and I plan to give them to others for free. I did a lot of research before I found protective materials and patterns. The best performing masks are not available to the general public. An N95 respirator filters nearly 95 percent of airborne particles. Surgical masks block about 65 percent. For a homemade version, the most effective mask will have two layers of tightly woven cotton fabric and must fit tightly around the nose and snuggly under your chin. A flannel layer against your face will block more particles, according to a study done by Wake Forest Baptist Health.
I recently was given a pattern and some fabric used in hospitals to cover sterilized surgery equipment. Great news: the two-ply spun polypropylene material cannot be penetrated by water, bacteria or particles. A health-care professional designed this mask and claims it blocks 99 percent of airborne particles. Better than an N95!
My plan is now to keep sewing and giving away these masks. I will be outside of Hannaford or Shaw’s in Ellsworth on Friday and Saturday as long as my supply lasts. Please, stop by and take one for yourself or take more if you want to help with distribution. I can give you more information about these masks when you pick one up. Let’s all don a mask to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community and remind others to practice social distancing. Together we’re all part of a solution.