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Fallon County health officials are looking for some help - especially if they have sewing skills.

Like most of the country, masks are in short supply locally as we face a global pandemic which has already killed thousands of Americans.

In Fallon County, sewing masks is seen as part of the answer, especially as federal health officials stress the need for all Americans to wear face masks to cut down on the chances for COVID-19 to be transferred.

Now a handful of women are helping to arm the Fallon County medical personnel with handmade masks. There has been a goal set of creating 1,000 masks from fabric which could be reused and sterilized.

For Marj Peterson, sewing is something she has done since since she was young and a member of 4-H “as a kid.”

She admits that now she is just one of the ladies working to help the healthcare workers.

She found out that the local hospital has plenty of masks for the present, but if and when the COVID-19 virus comes to Fallon County, that supply could quickly run out.

“We have a long way to go to make 1,000. I haven’t even made them for my own family yet,” she said with a chuckle. “I thought essential workers should be tended to first.”

When she finishes a batch of masks, Peterson said she contacts Mayor JoDee Pratt so they can be taken to the hospital. “We were told when we have compiled some, get them to JoDee and she will get them there so not everybody is making a run there with them (masks).”

The ‘group’ of people sewing is rather loosely organized. “It is no particular group.... just individuals who have stepped up to the plate,” Peterson explained.

Still, they have gotten people to donate material, fabric and elastic to make the masks. “That has helped a lot.

“The masks have to be 100 percent cotton so that they can be sterilized and reused over again,” Peterson explained. “That is what they asked for.”

As far as the design for the masks, she said that there may not be any of the people sewing making them the same way. “I think we have all gotten the patterns we are using from different sources, mostly online. So, they may be all different.”

She admits that the masks are colorful, but all have a similar basic design with elastic to reach around the ears. Peterson said she has heard of some masks being made with pipe cleaners to help close the masks around the nose, but they have a problem. “The pipe cleaners won’t hold up in washing. If they want to leave or make pockets to insert pipe cleaners, they can.”

When it comes to the fabric, Peterson tries to go a step further. “They have asked for three-ply at least. I have been using four-ply.”

According to Peterson, all of the masks will vary because each person sewing is doing something a little differently. “I know some are these straight pieces with pleats that you spread apart, hook over the ears and should not leave any gaps. It has to cover the nose, mouth with no gaps and that is where these pipe cleaners come in around the nose to prevent any gaps there. Some of them are like a cup.”

Making the masks for the local medical facility is something new for Peterson. “I have never done that before.”

Marj is a senior who moved to the Baker area more than a decade ago to be with family.

If other people are interested in joining the effort to supply the 1,000 masks, Peterson said they should contact Pratt at the mayor’s office.

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