There are enough positive stories out there right now if you look for them. How about this one:

As health care providers grapple with a severe national shortage of masks and other gear to protect against COVID-19, some Amish residents in Lancaster County are among those firing up sewing machines to help.

Sylvan Stoltzfus and his wife own Bird-in-Hand Fabric, which is serving as a hub for dozens of families in their Amish community sewing about 13,000 fabric masks to donate to Lancaster Health Center after tour guide company LoKal Experiences helped make arrangements.

“Lancaster County in itself is just a very giving place,” Stoltzfus said. “We decided that if we can find people to help us, we would donate fabric and materials for these masks for protection from this virus.”

Image: Phil Lapp/LoKal Experiences

These homemade masks aren’t going to be at the same medical grade as conventional masks, but they could help as a plan B in cases of low supplies:

Once regular surgical masks given to patients run out, the center intends to use these as a better option than asking that patients cover their mouth with tissue — which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has suggested if necessary.

“Our bottom line is, if we run out of masks for patients, cloth masks still help contain droplets and they serve as a reminder not to touch your face while seeking care,” the center said in an emailed statement, noting it’s working “around the clock” to get appropriate personal protective equipment. It said it has the recommended N95 respirators for staff, but they’re getting low.

So these are not the ideal option, and the Lancaster Online story I linked reports that some health care providers are weighing whether or not to use the handsewn masks.

But in the face of a lack, the people here are pitching in to do the best they can with what’s available, and it looks like at least the Lancaster Health Center is going to make use of them. Good on them.


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