How you can protect yourself from coronavirus without cutting into the stockpile for first responders

The Center for Disease Control has recommended the general public don face masks before going out in public.

So, what can be done to stay healthy without cutting into the supply for first responders?

Queenie Lee, a mom from Shrewsbury who is now working from home and caring for her children, said she has an answer.

Lee has been sewing several masks a day for friends and family members.

“This is nothing for medical, surgical reasons,” Lee said. “This is just for regular people who need a little protection when they go to the grocery store.”

She said the public health crisis drove her to get out the sewing machine and she picked up the skill on YouTube.

“I think we should just get used to it,” she said. “It’s a new life, new world, you know? This is a new way to deal with our life every day.”

Though cotton masks are not as effective as medical-grade units — some protection is better than nothing.

“If you look at the scientific literature here it shows that of course the professional masks perform better. We know that,” Harvard University Public Health Professor Joseph Allen said. “But, it turns out a cotton mask does pretty well.”

Fashion designers like Denise Hajjaar and David Josef also got into the act putting together kits for the DIYers out there.

“I get thousands of requests a day,” Josef said.

Now the do it yourself kits are available online.

Nicola Day, owner of a sewing studio in West Newton is also keeping busy making masks even though she can’t see her customers in person.

“I was able to recruit all my staff and anyone who was in the community who could sew and I could loan out my sewing machines, which we’ven got 40 of them, to them to sew at home,” she explained

Hipstitch has an online tutorial to help those willing to help.

Day’s students and even her kids are chipping in — all to help keep people safe.

For each kit she sells, she donates one to a healthcare facility in need.

“I have the resources and the materials to help,” she said, “to make a difference.”

Day has put together some models for kids including an Easter Bunny pattern.

Professor Allen had a word of advice for anyone feeling foolish wearing a mask out and about.

“The more of us that wear it, it is no longer a signal that maybe I’m sick or to be avoided. It actually becomes a badge of honor. It tells you I am concerned for you and I am doing my part in this pandemic,” he said.

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