An update to the story of last week on Amish producing 13,000 homemade masks for medical institutions. The news today is the Amish and others involved are scaling up their production to reach more recipient organizations. From Lancaster Online:

At first, the goal was to sew 13,000 masks for health providers and patients at Lancaster Health Center to protect against COVID-19.

Now, Sylvan Stoltzfus and Phil Lapp are working with Amish communities and English folks to increase production to provide churches, hospitals, prisons and retirement communities in Lancaster County and beyond with masks.

“We’re ramping things up,” Phil Lapp, co-founder of tour guide company LoKal Experiences, said. “We’re reaching numbers we never thought were possible.”

This looks like a family affair with Amish men chipping in too, though it’s not said exactly how:

Amish families are working together to produce masks, Stoltzfus said. Amish men who have lost their jobs during the stay-at-home order and have little sewing skills are finding ways to help out, Stoltzfus said.

How much are they ramping up? Yesterday, over 500 kits to make 50 masks each were delivered to homes around Lancaster County. It should be noted that non-Amish families in Lancaster County are involved in this as well. So if all of those get made, that would mean over 25,000.

The effort has already donated a couple thousand masks to the Lancaster Health Center, the original intended recipient. Masks for the center have been put on temporary hold as they produce masks for other institutions, including a children’s hospital in Delaware.

How to get a mask

Bird-in-Hand Fabric, the Amish business which is acting as a hub for the effort has been recognized by the PA state governor as “essential” with a letter stating that it “plays a critical role in the manufacture and supply of goods and services necessary to sustain life.”

A message on the store’s Facebook page shares the following:

Our store was issued a waiver due to making and selling masks so we are currently open our regular hours.

If you are in need of a mask you can visit the drive thru at our store in Bird in Hand and pick one up.

If you are in need of a large amount of masks you can call 717-823-0952 and place your order.

Wanting to sew your own masks we have fabric in store that is available for purchase.

Due to the high demand locally we are currently not offering shipping for masks. We are sorry for that and we will let you know if that changes in the future.

We are so grateful that we are able to help our community in this way. If you have any questions at any time feel free to message us.

So it looks like there are 2 ways to get a mask from this effort. Either

a) visit the drive-thru in person to pick one up, or

b) place an order for a large amount of masks, which would presumably be for larger institutions only.

So I wish I could report that they are mailing out masks to individuals, but currently that is not the case. I know some people were interested in that. If that changes, we will pass on the info here.

As noted in the original post, these are not high medical-grade masks like the N95 of course, but rather fabric masks which can offer some measure of protection (considered to be “a better option than asking that patients cover their mouth with tissue”).

I assume they are also meant to help prevent people touching their faces.

If you’d like to volunteer, or you’re an organization seeking a mask donation, the number again to call is: 717-823-0952.

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