Knoxville woman making face masks at home during coronavirus pandemic

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — While many people across the country are posting videos of how they are staying entertained during quarantine or social distancing, one local woman thought she could use her time at home to make face masks.

Kandy Turner, a speech pathologist, decided to make homemade face masks so she and her family could have one more level of protection.

She said she was also making them for families who needed face masks because their loved ones might be sick, but, due to the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) across the country and state, none are available.

Turner said even some health care professionals have reached out for her masks.

“I did not originally think, ‘let’s just put these out for the health care workers,” but you’d be surprised I have been contacted by health care providers who want them and need them. We don’t have masks, so that means your local doctor is having to give up or not, can’t even order masks,” Turner said.

She said she knows that none are available personally, because her husband is an optometrist and hasn’t been able to order any since the outbreak.

Turner found a tutorial from a hospital in Indiana, where doctors were asking for people to make them if they could.

Turner felt that just two pieces of cloth wasn’t enough to really protect someone, so she made adjustments.

She first made masks with a coffee filter in the middle of the two pieces of 100% cotton cloth, but then her husband found air filters that worked even better.

Turner said the key is to use 100% cotton cloth with fun designs, and to know that they are not medical grade.

WATE 6 On Your Side asked the Knox County Health Department if homemade masks were a way people at home can help the health care community and officials responded with the following statement:

“As an absolute last resort, homemade masks can be used. But, the priority for the public right now if following the WHO guidance on who should be wearing a mask. Masks need to be saved for health care providers and people caring for loved ones who are sick at home. We also want to stress that people need to stay home during this time to reduce the spread of illness.”

That being said, Turner said anyone with a sewing machine can learn how to make the masks.

She makes the mask with the following items:

  • Two pieces of 100% cotton cloth cut
    • for adults, cut the cloth 9 x 5 inches
    • for children cut 7.5 x 5 inches
  • Air filter cut in same dimensions as sizes above (optional)
  • Rope elastic cut 7 inches long

She made a video tutorial and posted it on her Facebook.

Turner said she people can reach out to her if they want or need a mask for free.

She said she would accept either monetary or supply donations to help make more masks, but they aren’t necessary to get one.

You can reach out to Turner through Facebook. Her profile can be found by clicking here.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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