Army of volunteers churning out thousands of masks for healthcare workers

An army of volunteers is working non-stop to help supply the much needed equipment.

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Sewing machines are humming all over metro Atlanta as volunteers have rallied to make covers for medical masks.

Medical masks have been hard to come by since the coronavirus pandemic began. First responders and medical professionals in the hospitals and clinics desperately need them to protect them from sick patients.

Channel 2′s Berndt Petersen talked to Donna Faulkner, who has been leading one of several groups of sewers from her basement in Gwinnett County.

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“Some doctors and emergency medical people have nothing," Faulkner said. “Currently there are over — right now — 10-million of these that need to be immediately usable for Georgia.”

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Manufacturers are trying to meet the need for more specialized medical masks, but in the meantime, people like Faulkner are putting their seamstress skills to work to sew fabric covers for the hospital-grade masks. The washable covers can extend the life of the masks health care workers wear underneath.

Faulkner's team is made up of a group of 15 sewers.

“We have some people cutting, and some get in their car and drive and drop what we’ve made off at the hospitals,” Faulkner said. “So our group this week has made 1,500 masks.”

Some people are calling the volunteers who have stepped up to make masks the modern day "Rosie the Riveters" after the World War II icon.

Cindy Caicedo leads another group of Gwinnett County volunteers who are cutting fabric, sewing it together and delivering it to local hospitals and clinics.

She said when she learned there wasn't enough equipment, she had to act.

"It's scary. Because they're risking their lives for us, and it's scary to know they don't have everything they need to take care of us." Caicedo said. "But if we all get together to help each other, then we can make a change, you know?”

There are groups all over the metro that have made thousands of mask covers over the last week or so. Caicedo's group has turned out 1,500 so far.

“We’re sending a message to our front line medical people," Faulkner said. "We love you. We are supporting you in the best way we can. Thank you for going to work every day and thank you for taking care of the patients you take care of.”