National Day Calendar says “The entire month of July celebrates National Contract Sewing Month. Throughout July, we give recognition to all things manufactured with a needle and thread. Assembling goods requires intricacy and skill. Unfortunately, most people are unaware of the hard working individuals working seamlessly behind the scenes. As a result, we often take them for granted. However, purchasing goods would be impossible if it weren’t for the hard working people in the industry.”
July 2020 it is especially important to recognize the untold thousands of people who sew masks to protect us from Coronavirus. A shocking 63,200 Covid19 cases were reported in the United States on Thursday – another all time single-day high for new infections. The previous record was set Tuesday when 60,000 cases were reported, according to Johns Hopkins University.
“Mask up” is the answer for many states. On July 10, Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order which:
1) Requires any business that is open to the public to refuse entry or service to people who refuse to wear a face covering, with limited exceptions. There is a $500 fine for not wearing a mask inside a place of business open to the public.
2) Requires the use of face coverings in crowded outdoor spaces.
3) Reiterates that individuals are required to wear a face covering whenever they are in an indoor public space.
So the maskmakers are angels among us.
From the most humble, to the celebrity giants of our times thoughtful people have spent months sewing face masks. Music legend Barry Manilow found some fabric he was no longer using, and some of his staff began sewing face masks while the crooner was on hiatus from concert tours.
Click here to see the Barry Manilow masks.
Robin Dunlop, who is on hiatus from the Detroit Zoo, has accepted the challenge to make masks for little school children in Hazel Park, Michigan. She had to make her own patterns, because the tiny masks required special sizing.
Janie Hamilton is a mom of three. She said, “Being a mom to my kids is a little different than the average mom story. My two boys have both been diagnosed with asthma under the age of two. They have four hospitalizations between the two of them all triggered from simple colds that caused asthma exacerbations. I have spent so many sleepless nights watching them breathe, constantly questioning if we can stay in the “yellow zone” with meds every four hours, or if we need to advance to the “red zone” which likely means an ER visit. An ER visit for them has always ended in an overnight admission. Hearing a cough out of them or seeing a runny nose immediately has me wondering if I need to pack a hospital bag. Being an asthma mom is exhausting and terrifying. Every step of the way, our Beaumont Hospital medical team has been lifesaving – literally. The only thing that has given me the slightest piece of mind is knowing that if we do advance to the “red zone” and go to the hospital, my boys will be OK. The ER has always saved my babies. So when this COVID 19 Pandemic started, I was more than a little terrified. Not only was I worried about someone in my family getting sick with the Corona Virus, I was worried my boys might have an asthma flair and we’d have to leave our safe quarantine bubble, to face a hospital that may be too overburdened to save them. Or worse yet, I would be forced to expose them to something that may end up taking one of our family members away. On top of all this, my one year old is ‘Failure to Thrive’ and was scheduled to have an endoscopy procedure in March.”
Hamilton continued, “With all this weighing heavy on my mind, I reached out to a friend that worked at Beaumont Hospital and asked her how things were there. She told me some chilling truths, she told me how she and her team did not have enough PPE to protect them while they were being exposed daily to patients that were later getting positive COVID 19 tests. She told me that her coworkers were getting sick and I immediately went to my Facebook to beg friends & family to give up any n95 masks they had stowed away so I could get them to the healthcare workers. It broke my heart to know the people who had saved my babies were now being exposed without protection to this deadly virus. Literally the next day I saw a Facebook post from “deaconess.com” labeled “how to make a face mask”. I was skeptical, is this safe? Will this help? So I started doing reading about how the idea is for the cloth mask to go over an n95 in a time of shortage so the n95 is protected and safe to be re-used instead of disposable. Again, I went to my Facebook page and asked if anyone could help me learn to sew these masks. I reached out to my church group and my local community. The response I got was amazing! People said they could sew if they had supplies, people said they had supplies but didn’t know how to sew and all the sudden I had a new mission. I started picking up supplies of people’s porches and putting together bags of supplies for people willing to sew. I sent out mask patterns that had good feedback and started talking to more healthcare workers in other hospitals about what they needed.”
Hamilton called her project “Helping Our Heroes” and began distributing the masks of love in Oakland County Michigan. Among the volunteers is a couple: Roberta and Michael Campion.
Michael and Roberta Campion
Roberta said, “Michael and I have been volunteering with this group since March. Personally, we have made 850 masks and headscarves. Over 12,000 masks have been made and delivered by this group. This is a group made up of mostly people I’ve never met before, or stepped up to help in a time of need. Over 190 volunteers came together. We’ve made cloth masks, medical masks, anchor rock masks, kid masks, pocket masks, elastics, ties, nose pieces and now 3 layer masks. Our masks have filled 86 requests in seven counties. ALSO, over 700 caps, 600 reusable gowns, 900 face shields and 4,000 earsavers were begifted. We’ve also included half face respirators, gloves, shoe covers, iPads for family calls, books for patients at the field hospitals and snacks and drinks for the healthcare workers.”
Recently, Hamilton sent 41 loads of donations to Midland and Gladwin counties for flood relief too.
Campion related, “Several folks have come to our house to pick up masks and most recently, children sized ones. We are also taking to Janie. My friends have been living in Italy (Modena) through all of this awful pandemic. They have been inside all of this time. Now they are on the road and traveling around because the Italians have followed the safety protocol, and continue to do so!
Jim and Julie Beyer
Julie Beyer loves to sew anything for children, whether it’s clothing, baby quilts or masks. She advised, “My master’s degree from Michigan State is in Health and Risk Communication, and I have said from the beginning that the messaging for this virus has been terrible. Although I understand that it takes time to learn the ins and outs of a novel contagion, there are some things that have made scientific sense for a century and still apply to COVID. Masks and physical distancing work….period. Maybe not 100% but they help. We have all sorts of evidence to support that now….evidence from around the world.
How do we convince people now that masks work…even homemade cloth masks? By continuing to share posts… By wearing masks no matter the social pressure to take it off. By speaking up when you see misinformation. This isn’t living in fear. If you were being chased by a bear you would be afraid. This virus is a bear. Even if it doesn’t kill you, it can take weeks of misery to heal from an attack and can even have long lasting consequences if it catches you.”
Marco Airaghi, a citizen of Italy, made multiple mask donations through his non-profit “Teddy Bear Ministry” to citizens of Italy when the pandemic first hit. Marco was fortunate to be able to escape Italy the day before they shut down all flights from Italy to the US. He continued his journey to Hawaii where he procured unique Hawaiian style masks that the nurses and seniors in Italy loved to receive. One of the recipients was Harry McKay in Kokomo Indiana, a cancer patient who received both a mask and a blessed teddy bear which had been sprinkled with water taken from a baptismal site in the River Jordan in The Holy Land. Unfortunately, McKay lost his battle with cancer only days after receiving the mask and prayer bear.
People like Barry Manilow, Roberta and Michael Campion, Robin Dunlop, Marco Airaghi and Janie Hamilton are angels who walk among us. We salute them during National Contract Sewing Month for their selfless giving.
Follow Dr. Anton Anderssen on Twitter @hartforth