There are very few people alive today who have experienced much of anything like what the world is currently going through with the COVID-19 pandemic, which as of this writing has afflicted over 700,000 people worldwide and taken the lives of over 34,000. It’s important to understand that we are nowhere near the end, either. In the United States alone, some estimates predict that we could see deaths in the number of the hundreds of thousands.
It’s fair to say that this is an unprecedented situation for nearly everyone going through it. It’s difficult to be prepared for something that is novel, and no amount of preparation could have ever fully accounted for it. That is not to say that far more could have been done in advance, or that far more could be done now.
One of the greatest shames of the pandemic in the United States is a lack of personal protective equipment for frontline workers around the country, nurses and doctors and other first responders who are literally putting their lives on the line every time they willingly come in contact with an infected individual.
Not just in the United States, but around the world, governments have put out the call for help. Seamsters and seamstresses, professional, retired, and amateur, have been manufacturing makeshift masks to try to help ease the stark shortage of PPE.
Among those in the local area pitching in is Kiya Tomlin, the wife of Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and a fashion designer in her own right, how runs a Steelers-related fashion show every offseason in which a number of players participate.
Her Kiya Tomlin Work/Shop, like so many other businesses, is shuttered due to the coronavirus, but she has employed her four sewers to work remotely from their own homes in order to manufacture washable fabric masks that can be distributed to healthcare workers.
“These will be used for hospital support staff, people who are not directly in the front line of fire but still need a level of protection”, he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “That way, higher-grade masks like the N95 can go to medical professionals who are treating patients”.
Her company is not the only one putting their hand in the pile, and the article speaks to two other outlets—412PPE and (mask)MakersPGH—who have also turned their focus to this crisis. For those with the capability, it is one of the few things that we can directly contribute other than staying home. In a time when there is such a great shortage, literally one mask can make a significant difference.