Tammy Norman said she temporarily closed her business that caters to the tourism industry on Tuesday as part of efforts to avoid social interactions and slow the spread of COVID19.
“I didn’t want to sit at home for 15 days. I called my friend and said, ‘what do you need help with?’” Norman said, adding her friend is the director of purchasing and supplies at the Moab Regional Hospital.
As the friends talked, they realized Norman might be able to help the hospital, which has been rationing face masks to make up for industrywide shortages. Doctors said they won’t get their next shipment until August 1.
“By that evening we had two-to-three different prototypes,” Norman said of the fabric face masks that are safe for doctors to use. The final prototype included a lining where a coffee filter can be inserted and replaced.
The group made an instructional video for others to follow as they kept their distance in their homes.
Norman said they found out gowns were also running low on Friday.
“We stepped back on the masks and divided production into the gowns because Monday they’re expecting to not have enough gowns here,” Norman said.
Local hotels donated sheets for the gowns and another business is allowing its employees to sew during downtimes.
“We’ve received calls from Pennsylvania, Meridian, Idaho; all over the country of people that are excited to help, so we say check your community first,” said Chyrrel Meyer, owner of Canyonlands Quilting. “We all have a lot of good fabric so for me it was a no brainer. We put the video together, we put it on the Delicate Stitchers Quilt Guild Website, on our church’s Facebook page.”
“It’s so necessary for healthcare workers to protect themselves and also not be a factor of further transmission of this illness,” he said.
“This is bringing hope. People in town have been afraid, frustrated and scared. Then they take an elastic and when they’re done cutting, their fear is gone,” Norman said.
“No homemade mask has yet shown to be as effective as a medical-grade mask and thus is not considered FDA approved PPE,” officials said. “For that reason, our providers will only use homemade masks as a last resort, once we run out of current FDA approved PPE.”
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How Do I Prevent It?
The CDC has some simple recommendations, most of which are the same for preventing other respiratory illnesses or the flu:
Avoid close contact with people who may be sick
Avoid touching your face
Stay home when you are sick
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
How To Get Help
If you’re worried you may have COVID-19, you can contact the Utah Coronavirus Information Line at 1-800-456-7707 to speak to trained healthcare professionals. You can also use telehealth services through your healthcare providers.
If you see evidence of PRICE GOUGING, the Utah Attorney General’s Office wants you to report it. Common items in question include toilet paper, water, hand sanitizer, certain household cleaners, and even cold medicine and baby formula. Authorities are asking anyone who sees price gouging to report it to the Utah Division of Consumer Protection at 801-530-6601 or 800-721-7233. The division can also be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.