- The Washington Times - Monday, March 23, 2020

Health officials in several nations have warned of an acute face mask shortage during the coronavirus pandemic. The public has responded, and the rush is on to create effective, do-it-yourself barriers to the virus — an effort which has already earned the very active hashtag #Millionmaskchallenge on Twitter.

The DIY mask in times of crisis is not a novel idea. In 2006, the Centers for Disease Control added a research article to its website featuring plans for a “simple respiratory mask” as outlined in “Emerging Infectious Disease,” an academic journal.

“A simple, locally made, washable mask may be a solution if commercial masks are not available,” the article said, offering complete plans for a prototype and helpful hints.

“For material, we choose heavyweight T-shirts similar to the 2-ply battle dress uniform T-shirts,” the research said.

“A Hanes Heavyweight 100% preshrunk cotton T-shirt was boiled for 10 minutes and air-dried to maximize shrinkage and sterilize the material in a manner available in developing countries. A scissor, marker, and ruler were used to cut out 1 outer layer and 8 inner layers,” the article advised.

Focus has returned to homemade masks.

“In settings where facemasks are not available, healthcare professionals might use homemade masks (e.g., bandana, scarf) for care of patients with COVID-19 as a last resort,” the CDC said in a new update which also includes guidelines for re-use of face masks and priority use systems in crisis situations.

In the meantime, the do-it-yourself brigades are already at work.

“A significant movement, perhaps even a revolution of epic noble intentions, is underway,” noted Forbes, which is tracking the worldwide efforts in the U.S., the Netherlands, Great Britain and other nations.

“Calling all makers: Here’s a 1-page PDF facemask pattern; now go make some and help beat this thing,” advised Freesewing.org, organized by Dutch craftsman Joost de Cook.

• Jennifer Harper can be reached at jharper@washingtontimes.com.

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