FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) – The need for personal protective equipment continues to be present in the valley. At Authorized Vac & Sew, they distribute homemade face masks to local medical facilities, and with more businesses now opening up, they’re offering them to residents who need them as well.
“We’re being able to meet some of the needs of people who are just looking to be able to take care of themselves and take their own product with them to work,” said Robin McGehee, who has been helping with the distribution.
Since March, residents have been able to purchase fabric from Authorized Vac & Sew, make face masks and then return them so that they can be distributed.
McGehee has been helping with the distribution since then and said she continues to see a demand for them weekly.
So far, they’ve been able to make and distribute around 7,000 face masks. Some healthcare facilities they’ve delivered to include Community Regional Medical Center, Kaweah Delta Medical Center and Valley Children’s Hospital.
However, Kaiser Permanente isn’t one of them.
In a statement, they said, “Hand-made masks are not of medical grade and are sometimes referred to as ‘cover your cough’ masks. At this time we have sufficient supplies of ‘cover your cough’ masks.”
They did not specifically answer the question of whether nurses have had to reuse face masks.
When Authorized Vac & Sew first started to distribute face masks in March, they were focusing on health care facilities, but as hair salons and barbershops start to reopen, McGehee said they’re giving them out for free for anyone in the community who may need them.
Miguel Arias, the Fresno City Council President, said the city has allocated $250,000 to securing face masks for small businesses.
“We’ve had dozens of small business owners reach out to code enforcement officers and they’ve already delivered hundreds and hundreds of face masks to the businesses,” Arias said.
Arias said those who need them can reach out to the city.
McGehee added that she’ll continue to distribute face masks while the need exists.
“We need to get to a place where we’re supplying our nurses with PPE that they need and if we’re not, we’re giving them something that they can take home and wash and sanitize and bring back,” McGehee said.