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Volunteers work to reduce mask shortage in Northeast Ohio

Are you able to sew?

CLEVELAND — University Hospitals made the plea, and the community quickly stepped up to help.

To ensure the system does not run out of masks, UH has turned to volunteers to sew them.

“I’ve never seen this kind of outpouring in the community,” said Dr. Randy Jernejcic, Vice President of Medicine. “People are frightened, but yet they want to help.”

Around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused shortages of personal protective equipment.

In New York, Emergency Room Doctor Arabia Mollette says she returns home every night and cries.

“I’m very frustrated because we are doing everything that we can to help everyone, to see everyone to treat everyone, but we have limited resources and not as much support,” she said.

It is a major concern in Ohio, which is now beginning to witness a startling statistic.

According to the latest figures, 16% of coronavirus patients in the state work in health care.

“When you have to listen to their lungs or doing other invasive procedures, the social distancing goes away,” said Dr. Jernejcic.

In New Hampshire, the company Bauer, known for hockey skates and helmets, began making face shields and can now produce 6,000 per day.

“We have facilities, we have the people, we have the manpower,” said Win Fream of Bauer.

But that is still not enough.

“Some people have called up and said, ‘We want 50,000 of these,’” Fream said.

Back in Cleveland, UH hopes for 100,000 masks by mid-April and doctors are hopeful they can get them.

“The outpouring has been amazing, and folks are turning them out,” Dr. Jernejcic said.

He stresses they will not replace N95 masks and will be used for patients, visitors, and caregivers who support those who are low risk.

If you or someone you know is able to sew, please go to https://ventures.uhhospitals.org/covid-challenge/ for ways to help.

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