Recently, local stores have started to stock cloth masks for sale, which was a beacon of light in my mind: maybe the mask shortage is behind us. News media outlets and articles paint a picture that says quite the opposite, so I went digging to find why the news and other media outlets are encouraging the sewing community and businesses to continue their mask-making efforts.
Continued Struggles for Medical Workers
Surges in COVID cases could potentially cause another N95 surgical face mask shortage. When surges occur, the hospital staff must wear more PPE to treat the patients. While it isn’t likely that the shortages are nearly as bad as they were in earlier months, it is certain that the amount of N95 masks available ranges from state to state. There are still many medical professionals that are having to wear single-use products for days to weeks at a time sending medical professionals to work in fear that they are further spreading the virus and infecting those that they are trying to protect.
Lack of Supplies for Non-Medical Workers
In recent months, non-healthcare workers have slowly begun returning to work. Construction, dental, and factory workers alike also need N95 masks, which increases the demand for masks. In a similar boat, doctors with private practices are voicing their concerns and reluctance to open their offices, as they still lack the equipment that they need. Businesses that operate on a much smaller scale than hospitals are struggling to purchase and receive credible supplies at fair values making it practically impossible to operate safely. Despite the efforts of manufacturers ramping up production to get masks out faster, the demand for masks is still exceeding the supply.
Responding to Community Based Needs
Another area that is facing mask shortages is community-based organizations all over the US. Perhaps this is where the sewing community can be the most helpful, and the mask standards are much easier to achieve. Organizations like shelters and food banks are still in dire need of face masks for their patrons, and staff and donations are in high demand. Similarly, nursing homes and other facilities are still struggling to stock up on the supplies that they need. For those that can create surgical grade masks, this is an area that also needs a lot of aid.
This national mask shortage was originally projected to continue through August, but will likely continue into September, so the mask making time has not passed and is still very present. If you’re interested in making masks and aren’t sure where to start, or want to expand your mask making knowledge, check out our face mask and face shield tutorials.