Bridal designer leads effort to create face masks, wants to help those with “greatest need”

Are homemade masks safe?

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) – Heidi Elnora knows how to create a bride’s dream dress. “Brides know I will bend over backward to make their dress perfect, because it has my name on it.”

Elnora is now putting her name on face masks and working just as hard. “We have 45 seamstresses who have signed up to start sewing so we are coming, we are trying, we are moving as fast as we can,” said Elnora, fashion designer and business owner.

In response to the Coronavirus crisis and critical shortage of personal protective equipment for medical providers, Elnora decided to do something, trading lace and sequins for filters and elastic.

“When it comes to these masks, they are made out of a cotton woven fabric...this is for our grocery store workers, first responders, anyone who is out on the front-line having to take care of us all,” explained Elnora.

Elnora said she received more than 900 requests for masks in just 36-hours. “It’s all word of mouth.”

Some of the requests are coming from medical providers but Elnora is clear - her masks cannot protect against the airborne transfer of COVID-19.

“This is not a N95, mask, no it cannot prevent COVID-19 however, it’s better than nothing, it’s better than a bandanna and per the CDC, it says last resort,” said Elnora.

A critical shortage of PPE has led The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to share strategies for “optimizing supply” of face masks.

When a hospital reaches “crisis capacity,” the CDC suggests healthcare providers use face masks past recommended shelf life, reuse face masks in some cases, prioritize who gets a face mask, and use bandannas or homemade masks for care of patients with COVID-19 “as a last resort.”

According to the CDC’s website, “homemade masks are not considered PPE since their capability to protect [healthcare providers] is unknown. Caution should be exercised when considering this option. Homemade masks should ideally be used in combination with a face shield that covers the entire front (that extends to the chin or below) and sides of the face.”

Elnora said, “If our healthcare professionals are currently wearing bandannas, per the CDC we are at last resort and so I am just responding to the need that has been presented to me.”

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