North Valley woman donates homemade masks to healthcare providers at Merced County jail

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- One woman in the North Valley is making special masks to help protect healthcare workers who continue to treat patients every day, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Tina Machado says, "Our nurses and doctors are on the front lines right now and need as much help as they can get. I thought, well, I have a ton of fabric sitting around, so I'm going to go ahead and do this."

Machado began sewing masks using guidelines provided online by JOANN Fabric and Craft store.

Each six by nine-inch square includes two layers of cotton material with a layer of flannel in between.

She says they're designed to be worn over the N95 respirators that many medical facilities are concerned about running out of as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Machado adds, "If they can help in any way prolong the life of those masks, we're at a huge shortage. So if this can help, why not?"

Machado works in human resources for Merced County, so she reached out to the medical services provider for the county's two jails, which gratefully accepted the masks.

She's donated about 20 so far and has dozens more on the way thanks to friends, colleagues, and even a local bridal store that have all provided supplies and support.

"The amount of people when this call came out that have helped out is just absolutely amazing," says Machado.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says homemade masks can be used by healthcare providers as a last resort and should ideally be worn with a face shield.

We spoke with a UC Merced professor of antiviral immunity who says they do make an impact, even on their own.

Juris Grasis explains, "They're effective at filtering out about 50 percent of infectious particles. They're also good at preventing transmission. If you are shedding virus yourself through your mouth, it will actually keep this from being spread onto other people."

Machado says she's happy to make masks for other healthcare workers as well, and she'll gladly accept more donations of fabric and other supplies. You can contact her on Facebook.

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