Homemade masks become the community's plan to battle COVID-19

Thursday, March 26, 2020
News 12 at 6 o'clock/NBC at 7

(Source: WRDW)

AUGUSTA, GA. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Making homemade faces masks have become the latest hobby for people trying to protect themselves and others from COVID-19. It's a way for them to take control of a very out-of-control situation.

Hundreds of people around the country have decided to make these masks, but it’s caused some controversy over whether they really are effective.

Studies from the NIH show homemade masks are not as effective as medical masks -- but their CDC says their use is acceptable in times of crisis.

Local hospitals say they’re not in crisis mode yet, but some local businesses say they are.

“Honestly, even within our own group, we’ve had some ‘are we really making a change? Are we really doing any good?’ But the fact is, you are,” said Arianna Bartleson, founder of the 'Masks Against COVID-19' Facebook group.

“Half of us are locked up in our homes. I mean, you can only watch Netflix for so long,” she said.

Her goal is to create these last resort masks for people who have no other options but to wear them.

“We have anywhere from grocery stores, to nail salon,” Bartleson said. “Some immune-compromised and even the hospital and home care.”

While local hospitals appreciate the gesture of donating, they are not accepting the homemade masks.

“There is research to suggest that they may not be effective and so we’re trying to be careful,” Dr. Phillip Coule, Chief Medical Officer at Augusta University Health, said.

A 2015 NIH study shows “penetration of cloth masks by particles was almost 97 percent.”

But some places, like Augusta Gardens Senior Living, are preparing for the worst.
The facility says they’ve been “trying to get masks for over two months -- and they have to prepare for weeks to come.”

And at the end of the day, even if the masks do nothing else, Bartleson says they are letting healthcare workers know the community is behind them

“Just the thought that the community is working together to help us is enough to make us want to wake up and go to work every day,” she said.

Bartleson and her group producing the masks have already gained more than 200 members, but she’s hoping even more people will step up to help to fill a big need. She says right now, they have requests for more than 700 masks in the CSRA.

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