Frequently Asked Questions
This page will be continuously updated and edited as information is provided or evolves.
Last updated: 10-Apr-2020
Are homemade face masks even effective/useful?
“SOMETHING is better than nothing!” Blocking germs in the form of aerosolized particles from getting into your nose and mouth is the ultimate goal. Putting a barrier over your nose and mouth has immediate benefit both as minor filtration (some figures put a handkerchief at 50%, for example) and as a deterrent from putting your unclean hands in your nose and mouth.
You can further increase the protection factor of your face covering by using higher quality filtration materials (like those in an N-95 respirator) and blocking unfiltered air with a better, tighter fit and seal to the face – so that the only air you breathe in, is filtered. (Conversely, it also filters and blocks the air you exhale, reducing the chance of you inadvertently spreading germs.)
The best face masks and respirators in the world are useless if they are not worn or are worn incorrectly. Our pattern maximizes the fit and seal while balancing it with the limitations of materials on hand and basic sewing skills.
Are homemade face masks as good as molded N-95 respirators? No, of course not. But with supplies exhausted it’s no longer what’s “ideal” the question becomes, rather, “what do we have?” Additionally, as one doctor said, “it doesn’t hurt.”
What about sterilization/cleanliness?
Wash your hands before beginning work on your mask. Cut and sew your first mask following these instructions. Put the mask on and wash your hands again before working on subsequent masks and gowns. Gently wash the mask daily when worn. If there’s a filtration medium in your mask, spray a light coat of rubbing alcohol (at least 70%) on both sides (coat but do not soak) and let air dry. (Depending on the type of filtration medium soap and water can ruin its filtering and water repelling abilities.)
How does this work?
Everyone is now advised to wear a mask. With the world-wide rush on masks and raw materials and the involvement of government agencies sourcing and directing resources, there are not enough masks to go around just yet so we must use what we have and what we can get. If you can sew, you can make your own mask. We offer guidance and information on how to do that in the best, most practical way. Just like in flying, make and wear your own mask first!
If you have the desire and resources (time, a sewing machine, and the needed materials) you may assist our more vulnerable populations within your community (like retirement homes and shelters) by making extra masks to give to them.
Since some organizations cannot accept donations or have their needs already met we will only post a specific organization that is willing to accept our group’s donations, made to our specifications. That organization will send us their need (for example, one elderly care organization has asked for 100 masks for their staff and patients), and we will link up nearby volunteers who then commit to making and donating as many masks as they are willing and able. The organization will establish a drop-off point to accept the local donations.
We will also facilitate the division and exchange of raw materials among groups. For example, if you have a huge spool of elastic, you can cut it into the prescribed length and bundle it up enough for 10 masks, and then other volunteers can pick up those bundles for use in their mask sewing donation. All of this is challenging given the social distancing guidelines so we will copy current food and grocery delivery methods and do contactless transactions and stipulate specific instructions for each instance.
It must be pointed out: participation is voluntary and at your own risk. (Dang lawyers!)
Are you providing materials?
Our initial plan was, indeed, to provide all of the materials but then all of our shipments were either blocked or seized and never made it across state lines to us. Other batches of raw material were then sourced by the federal government. We’re left scrambling with what we can find from leftover projects. If you don’t have elastic (as it’s now sold out basically EVERYWHERE), you can cut fabric into strips and sew them into ties. People often prefer the ties because you get a better, more secure fit and it’s way more comfortable.
What locality/region are you helping?
Through the miracle of the internet and the burden of the Lockdown we are linking volunteers and organizations across the nation! Each organization requesting donations will be posted with their location clearly identified. Nearby volunteers can then commit to meet those needs as they are able.
However, there are many multi-state organizations and they can utilize their own network to redistribute supplies as needed from one collection point.
We are based upstate in metropolitan Rochester, New York. New York City, downstate, is currently one of the “hot spots” for the Coronavirus outbreak in the United States and the whole state was placed on Lockdown on March 17, 2020.
Who are you? What’s your expertise?
R. Jeffery Diduch is a Senior Executive at a manufacturing facility and owner of Robert Jeffery, LLC. He is partnered with Biff Boswell, a former US Air Force Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological (NBC) Warfare and Emergency Management specialist who is handling the logistics and back office operations. Jeffery is using his own company to bankroll, setup, and coordinate this civil response in an international cooperative effort between government bureaucracies, universities, and laboratories to transition manufacturers of tailored men’s suits and other garments into emergency manufacturers of medical gear to address the national and global emergency.