Amarillo healthcare professionals share proper ways to make surgical grade masks during shortage

KFDA Video: Homemade masks COVID-19

AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Doctors in Amarillo are accepting homemade masks to help replenish their depleted supply.

There are several videos online claiming to show you the CDC approved way for making masks, but you should know there are different versions of masks.

There are masks for everyday use by the community and there are surgical grade ones. Surgical grade masks must have four layers of cotton gauze on the inside of the mask, and not just a double layer of fabric.

There is one thing that must be in the masks in order for them to work properly.

“There is a thin piece of metal, it kind of feels similar to a twisty tie or a pipe cleaner, it’s got that amount of give to it. That is important because this needs to basically be pushed onto your nose, otherwise virus particles might just make their way down, and then your just going to breath them up,” said Dr. Kaylee Shepherd, doctor of internal medicine with Texas Tech Physicians.

Most new shipments of personal protective equipment will be going to hospitals in hot spots, so Amarillo medical staff is currently working to combat the shortage by experimenting with materials to see which works best for them.

“We are short on everything, gowns, masks. With this virus we have to wear eye protection, gloves. Masks are the big one, because this virus primarily enters through the respiratory track,” said Dr. Shepherd.

One Amarillo teacher has made hundreds of N-95 face mask covers, to help prolong the life of the mask. She donated her first batch to the Amarillo Police Department.

“I’ve had requests from other agencies, other police departments. We’re definitely going to try to help as many as I’ve got fabric for” said Ali Harmon, Amarillo teacher, volunteer making masks.

Since she started, she has had other people and organizations reach out to see how they can help.

“I had some quilters groups get in touch with me saying, you know, 'how can we help,’ and so we gave them some of the ones we already had cut,” said Harmon.

Assistance from people throughout the community is helping Harmon and others keep more people in our area healthy.

“I just want people to know how much we appreciate that, because we really are going to need people help. We will just take any help that we can at this point, because we want to stay as healthy as possible so that we can keep staffing our hospitals to the best of our ability. Once physicians start getting sick, nurses start getting sick, and respiratory therapists start getting sick and have to be removed from the work force, that’s just going to be further devastating to this community,” said Dr. Shepherd.

When making these masks, you must wash the materiel in hot water first, so the fabric can adjust.

Doctors also explained there is a lot about the virus we are still learning. We know it is a very small particle, which can land on clothes, eyelashes and more, so continue to heighten your hygiene practices.

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