DALTON, Ga. — From Austria to Slovakia to South Korea to Japan, several countries are strongly encouraging, sometimes even mandating, that citizens wear masks to cover their noses and mouths when they go out in public to reduce the spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19).
Medical experts in the United States are more split on whether healthy individuals should wear a mask in public, but the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it is looking at recommending that people, both sick and healthy, wear masks when they go out in public.
But with a shortage of masks, such a recommendation might be hard for follow.
Fortunately for people in the Dalton area, a group of volunteers calling themselves Need a Mask has come together to make masks for anyone who wants one.
“We had someone who works at Hamilton Medical Center ask us if we could help with making masks, and it has grown from that,” said Renee Bennett, one of the organizers.
The project is sponsored by McFarland Hill Baptist Church and Salem Baptist Church and is providing the masks free to those who want one.
“Right now, we have 25 volunteers and two companies taking part,” Bennett said.
The group makes no claims that the masks can protect against COVID-19. That’s something that’s still under discussion by the medical community.
Bennett said they can use more volunteers, to sew the masks and to help distribute them. They are also looking for donations of cotton fabrics, such as sheets, pillow cases, T-shirts and shirts.
The group says it has been authorized as an essential service and can continue operations during Gov. Brian Kemp’s shelter-in-place order. It will hold drive-through distribution of the masks at Salem Baptist Church on Wednesdays from 6 to 8 p.m. and on Fridays from noon to 2 p.m. People who order a mask will be sent a letter giving them the specific day to pick up their mask.
To find out more about Need a Mask, including directions on how to volunteer, donate fabric or order a mask, go to needamask.wordpress.com.