With personal protective equipment in short supply, a California church has volunteered to repair 300,000 N95 masks that were in storage so long they were no longer usable.
The Rock Church, a congregation in San Diego, hopes to finish the project by the end of the month.
N95 masks filter out at least 95 percent of airborne particles and are critical for protecting healthcare professionals in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic. The 300,000 masks, though, had been in storage so long that the bands that secure the masks on the worker’s head were brittle and unusable. The masks themselves remain fully functional under CDC guidelines.
“The county contacted us and said, ‘Could you take this on and get these done?’ It's a big need for the medical community,” Mickey Stonier, equip pastor at the Rock Church, told Christian Headlines. “We said, yes, what an honor.
“The Rock Church is very focused on serving our community.”
Volunteers at the Rock Church are replacing each band on the 300,000 masks, one by one. Stonier said the project involves cutting each band off and tying on a new one.
About 200 volunteers each day are working on the masks.
The masks will be used by healthcare workers in San Diego County.
“They were outdated, and they're still usable if the bands get repaired,” Stonier said. “Our church site was deemed an essential place of operation to get this done. So we're open and have all the protocols in place to keep everyone safe.
“But people can't just show up. They have to call for an appointment, get screened, and then they're stationed in a spot where they can repair the masks.”
It takes about one minute to repair a single mask. Volunteers maintain plenty of space in order to follow social distancing guidelines.
“People go to a station, and they're over six feet apart,” Stonier said. “There's hand sanitizer at each station and latex gloves and everything.”
Assuming it takes one minute to repair one mask, the entire project will take about 5,000 total man hours to complete.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/AnanR2107
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.