Volunteers sewing face masks for Georgia health care heroes amid COVID-19 crisis

Volunteers sewing face masks for Georgia health care heroes amid COVID-19 crisis
Volunteers sewing face masks for health care workers amid shortage during coronavirus crisis (Courtesy of Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital)

ALBANY, Ga. — With a severe shortage of face masks, volunteers are offering a solution to health care workers on the front lines of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The staff at Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany, Georgia, has about three-and-a-half days of masks left. More than 3,000 a day are being used and discarded.

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The answer: a handmade, washable prototype mask which health care workers could place over disposable, N95 masks.

"It's something I enjoy doing and it's something I felt like I could do for the community," said Belinda Wright, a volunteer who helps sew the reusable masks.

N95 face masks are personal protective equipment used to protect the wearer from the transmission of airborne particles and liquid contamination.

Scott Steiner, CEO of Phoebe Putney, told ABC News the lack of N95 masks are a concern as they help protect doctors and nurses from contracting infectious diseases.

"We've gone through ... six months of personal protective equipment in just seven days," Steiner said.

The U.S. has a stockpile of 13 million N-95 respirator masks. But the federal government has said up to a billion might be needed over the next six months.

Volunteers sewing face masks for health care workers amid shortage during coronavirus crisis
Volunteers sewing face masks for health care workers amid shortage during coronavirus crisis (Courtesy of Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital)