Billings Clinic is asking the community for cloth masks donations to help fight the spread of COVID-19 amongst patients, guest, medical staff, and the general public.
Groups in the community, including a Facebook group known as the Mask Crusaders of B-Town, have already teamed up to make over 1,000 masks for Billings Clinic and surrounding medical facilities.
“We are focusing on the health care workers and the front-line first responders. Where if we get these cloth masks out, people who would normally buy prefabricated high-filtration masks can use these in the low risk areas,” says Tori Taylor, a nurse at Billings Clinic and founder of the Masks Crusaders of B-Town.
The Facebook group has over 700 members as of Tuesday who are helping to produce these masks.
Taylor says that Office 360 Solutions has offered to serve as the drop-off area for the masks at all its Montana locations, including in Billings. The masks can also be mailed to any Office 360 location.
Dr. Neil Ku, Billings Clinic department chair of infectious diseases, said these masks are important in preventing the wearer from spreading germs through droplets while sneezing and coughing.
Ku said that while the mask can be effective, people need still maintain good social-distancing habits when around others.
“We are working on trying to help provide mask for our visitors, patients, and as well as the general public… The target of those masks is to try to help prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2 (also known as COVID-19) by the process we call source control,” says Dr. Ku.
Source control involves preventing the mask wearer from releasing respiratory droplets that could potentially infect someone else with COVID-19 if the mask wearer has the disease.
Ku says that he is excited to see the masks that Taylor and the Mask Crusaders of B-Town, who have donated their time during this pandemic has created.
Taylor says that the Mask Crusaders are currently asking for volunteers to help run masks to the drop-off facility and gather supplies.
If you are interested in helping make more fabric masks for the community, you can find step by step instructions at https://www.billingsclinic.com/foundation/.