As hospitals nationwide try to find enough masks for doctors and nurses in the battle against COVID-19, churches are helping fill in the gap.
Rock Church in Virginia Beach, Va., donated a total of 4,000 N95 masks to four area hospitals last week, according to WAVY-TV: Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, Sentara Leigh Hospital, Sentara Princess Anne Hospital and Sentara Virginia Beach General Hospital.
The masks had been in storage to use for mission trips.
“We at Rock Church would like to take the opportunity to thank you for your dedication and work in providing much-needed care for our community and loved ones,” the church said in a letter to the hospitals. “... We hope that this will help in some small measure, the battle that you are in against the coronavirus.”
Sentara Norfolk General Hospital said in a statement, “This generous donation … will help our teams on the front line immensely. Thank you!”
Meanwhile, volunteers at Macedonia Baptist Church in Holland, Mich., are using sewing machines to make homemade masks for local medical professionals, WOOD-TV reported.
“We want to reach out to the community in whichever way we can help them – spiritually, with materials like the masks, anything,” church assistant Elda Haak told the television station.
The homemade masks technically don’t meet N95 regulations but can be used “for care of patients with COVID-19 as a last resort,” the CDC says.
Daniela Egelmeer, a pediatrician at Holland Pediatric Associates, said N95 masks “are very scarce right now.”
“So, we’re trying to keep those and give them to the people who are going to be right in contact with the sickest patients,” she said.
The CDC guidelines on masks have been eased due to the pandemic.
“There are a lot more rigid guidelines normally that are in place for protective equipment for physicians,” Egelmeer said. “But right now, some of those are being left aside a little bit … because we’re in a state of emergency and we’re not able to make everything exactly the way it needs to be but as protective as possible.”
The fight against the coronavirus, she said, “really starts to burden on you at a certain point.”
“So seeing that the community is doing things for us that way and thinking of us is really helpful,” she said.
The CDC says homemade masks can be used in situations “where facemasks are not available.”
“Homemade masks should ideally be used in combination with a face shield that covers the entire front (that extends to the chin or below) and sides of the face,” the CDC says.
N95 masks filter out at least 95 percent of airborne particles.
Photo courtesy: Sentara Norfolk General Hospital Facebook
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, The Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.