Overwhelming mask shortage sparks innovative new ways to make masks during crisis

Briana Varghese, Staff Writer

The coronavirus sweeped the nation as of late 2019 and has carried more problems into 2020. One of those problems being a mask shortage not only for those working in hospitals but also for many other first responders. 

 

“We haven’t had a lot of time to learn about COVID-19 and the fact that it is respiratory means that it spreads easier than some diseases we have seen,” Biology teacher Sindi Smith said. 

 

Recently, The Pentagon signed a $415 million dollar contract to commission 60 decontamination units so that reusing N95 masks could be an option. The idea originated from a simple conversation between Laurie Hommema, a family physician who works for the Ohio Health hospital network and Kevin Hommema, an engineer at Battelle Memorial Institute. 

 

“I know that there are specific types of masks that might be effective but it wont stop the spread completely,” Freshmen Kiersten Hung said. “We still need to take all necessary precautions like staying at home being a very important one.”

 

Many hospitals have had to make the hard choice of keeping masks away from their workers because of the lack of the resource. This has caused worry and distress for many who directly work with patients and run the risk of being exposed. 

 

“The hospital is giving masks to the doctors now. Previously they were keeping them away saying ‘there’s not enough for everyone’ but now it has become an absolute necessity,” nurse at VA Hines Hospital Syney Varghese said. 

 

The idea of using what students were taught at school and then further applying those skills to a real life situation such as the ongoing pandemic, showcases the importance of education in not only the student’s lives but also many others. 

 

“Every week Mrs. Pflanz drives to each of our houses to pick up and drop off the mask supplies,” Hung said. “Even though she would never say it, I know it takes a lot of dedication on her part and she puts in so much work to make this happen.” 

 

There are a variety of ways to stay safe during this pandemic and masks aren’t the only answer. Staying home is one of the easiest ways to stay clear of catching the virus. 

 

“Wearing masks is very effective but it’s not the only way to prevent spreading the virus. People should wash their hands and keep their distance from others,” Varghese said. 

 

It is important to take into consideration all that is going on around us, but not to let it consume us. These dire times will get better and there is a future for all of us to look forward to. 

 

“Focus on the long-term goal. If we do this the right way, everyone will be better off in the long run,” Smith said.