Several Monroe County ladies are making masks as fast they can to help healthcare workers protect themselves and their patients from the coronavirus.

Kelli Finch of Forsyth put the call out for masks on Facebook after seeing the request from the women’s ministry IF based in Dawsonville.

Friends began giving money to buy fabric and elastic and other local ladies began sewing including Conni Tane, Nadine Hoenes, Britney Teal, Karen McClellan, Patricia Jones and Kathy Buckley.

Tane said she had four sewing machines, but all were broken so she borrowed three sewing machines from Amie Whitfield, Lesli Nelson, and Julia Yawn. Friends Cathy Brooks and Amy Graham brought her fabric, and when she ran out, Tane discovered that you can use old bed sheets to make masks too. She taught her daughter Emmy, a senior at Mary Persons, how to do it and they’ve now produced about 90 masks and given them to healthcare facilities like Primary Pediatrics, senior living homes like Carlyle Place and to Finch and IF ministries.

“This is a great way to help those on the front lines while I’m home in ‘quaranTane’,” said Tane. ”Making the masks and praying over each one and the health care worker who will be wearing it. They are so desperate for more masks.”

Finch said the first call for masks came from Phoebe Putney Hospital in Albany, where the virus hit hard. As women have gone to work, the mask effort has become widespread as people want to do something to help.

“It has since grown and taking on wings of its own,” said Finch.

Tane there has been a shortage of elastic to make masks but then Tane said she discovered that you can use T-shirt fabric to make a band. Tane said healthcare workers actually like it better than the elastic, which can pinch.

“So now I’m cutting up my husband’s T-shirts,” laughed Tane. 

She’s made other tweaks as well. The latest pattern has added a hole over the mouth where they can insert a filter. Tane said in desperate times, even a coffee filter will do the job. One worker told Tane her masks for the best fit for the N95 filter.

Forsyth’s Kathy Buckley was able to make five masks just with material she had around her home, including two for her son Zack, an ER nurse in Atlanta.

“You just want to do something,” said Buckley, who said she watched a YouTube video to learn how to make them. She noted that her son has Type 1 diabetes so she wants to do everything she can to keep him safe as he’s on the front lines of the battle with the virus.

“I worry about all our healthcare workers,” said Buckley. “And I pray for our president daily. I wish more people would pray for him than criticize him.”

Tane said she keeps reading that major companies are mass producing masks now. Yet she said she’s still inundated with requests for more masks every day.

“Until somebody tells me to stop, I guess Ill keep making them,” said Tane. “I feel like Rosie the Riveter.”