Bay Area residents sew nearly 400 masks for local medical centers

Jane Sweeney and approximately 30 other members of the Lakeview Quilters Guild decided to take action after hearing of the need for personal protective equipment in area hospitals. (Photo courtesy of Jane Sweeney)
Jane Sweeney and approximately 30 other members of the Lakeview Quilters Guild decided to take action after hearing of the need for personal protective equipment in area hospitals. (Photo courtesy of Jane Sweeney)

Jane Sweeney and approximately 30 other members of the Lakeview Quilters Guild decided to take action after hearing of the need for personal protective equipment in area hospitals. (Photo courtesy of Jane Sweeney)

Jane Sweeney said she was shocked when a fellow member of the Lakeview Quilters Guild approached the guild’s board of directors and told them that staff working with mothers and babies at UTMB Galveston were unable to wear masks due to shortages amid the coronavirus outbreak.

“So there they were, without any kind of masks,” she recalled.

After seeing increasing amounts of Facebook posts related to area mask shortages, the Seabrook resident decided to take action. Sweeney has since spearheaded efforts in the Bay Area to make fabric masks for donations to local medical centers and others in need.

Initially, the goal was to make 100 masks. As of the evening of March 31, Sweeney said she and approximately 30 other workers have made nearly 400 masks.

The guild member who first alerted the board of this issue also said workers were forced to share masks at some hospitals given the shortages, leaving a mask outside each room and only using it in that particular area, Sweeney said. The Nassau Bay-based quilters guild frequently engages in community service efforts, such as making quilts for nonprofit organizations such as Bay Area Turning Point, she added, so members were able to coalesce for this larger-scale effort.



Specialized, tightly fitting N95 masks are still considered most effective at filtering out tiny virus particles—but the fabric masks are better than having none at all. The pattern used by Sweeney and other mask makers includes a filter insert so that workers can add extra protection.

“Keep in mind—although these masks will help slow the spread of [coronavirus,] they are not virus-proof—but—they will make a difference,” Sweeney said in a Facebook post. “I am not the expert on these—just trying to coordinate the effort.”

Sweeney owns Minuteman Press-Bay Area at 1040 Hercules Ave., Houston, which is being used as the drop-off location since printers are considered essential and still open for business. People often drop masks off anonymously or even send them directly to medical facilities, so the number of mask-makers is likely higher than 30, Sweeney said.

Since the mask-making has started, other organizations or individuals have begun requesting them, including League City-based Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Texas, Baywood Crossing Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in Pasadena, The Rio at Mainland Center and Kelsey-Seybold Clinic-Clear Lake. One family contacted Sweeney and asked for masks so they could safely celebrate a relative’s 92nd birthday.

As supplies dwindle in area shops, mask-maskers have gotten creative, using things such as hair ties in place of elastic and florist wire, twist ties or ornament hooks for makeshift nose bridges, Sweeney said. She added that, given the guild’s quilting focus, fabric has been in plentiful supply.

“Quilters, we have a lot of fabric, so we haven’t needed any fabric,” she said.

Mask-makers can drop off masks between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Friday in a clean plastic bag. Mask patterns are available at www.clearlake.minutemanpress.com.




By Colleen Ferguson
A native central New Yorker, Colleen Ferguson worked as an editorial intern with the Cy-Fair and Lake Houston | Humble | Kingwood editions of Community Impact before joining the Bay Area team in 2020. Colleen graduated from Syracuse University in 2019, where she worked for the campus's independent student newspaper The Daily Orange, with a degree in Newspaper and Online Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and a degree in Spanish language and culture. Colleen previously interned with The Journal News/lohud, where she covered the commute in the greater New York City area.

<

MOST RECENT

The 1,535 new cases is the second largest number of new cases to be reported in a single day in the county, behind only the 1,994 cases reported June 22. (Community Impact Staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: 1,535 new cases, six deaths confirmed July 7

See the latest data on COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Harris County.

Steve Bezner, senior pastor of Houston Northwest Church on Hwy. 249, is one of four pastors who are urging pastors across the region to work together in seeking unity. (Anna Lotz/Community Impact Newspaper)
4 Houston-area pastors take steps urging racial unity across region

"We wanted to unite as many pastors as possible around some basic common denominators that we felt like could make a real impact in our city and move some things forward in the area of racial injustice in our city," said Jason Shepperd, the lead pastor of Church Project in The Woodlands.

The Texas Education Agency released guidelines about on-campus activities, attendance requirements, and health and safety precautions for the 2020-21 school year. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Texas Education Agency issues guidelines for 2020-21 school year

The guidelines address on-campus activities, attendance requirements, and health and safety precautions that should be enforced at Texas schools this year.

Memorial Hermann Texas Medical Center was rated the No. 1 hospital in Houston by the Massachusetts-based Lown Institute. (Ben Thompson/ Community Impact Newspaper)
Memorial Hermann Health System hospitals rank in top 10 in the nation

Six of the top 10 hospitals in the Houston area are part of the Memorial Hermann Health System.

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller recently backed a movement calling for the reopening of winery and distillery tasting rooms and brewery and brewpub taprooms. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Museum scales back reopening, bar owners react to second shutdown and more: Houston-area business, community news

Read the latest news from the Greater Houston area on Community Impact Newspaper’s website.

In-person appointments for driver license renewal and replacement are now being offered at driver license offices across the state. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texas driver license offices reopen for in-person renewal, replacement services

The second phase of reopening announced July 7 expanded services offered at driver license offices.

New guidelines released by ICE require foreign students to take mostly in-person classes to stay in the U.S. on education visas. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
New U.S. guidelines require exchange students to take in-person classes this fall

The guidelines released by ICE require foreign students to take mostly in-person classes to stay in the U.S. on education visas.

The Texas Education Agency and Renaissance have partnered to give students unlimited access to enhanced digital books in English and Spanish. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Texas students given access to thousands of books, news articles for summer reading through TEA partnership

The Texas Education Agency and Renaissance have partnered to give students unlimited access to enhanced digital books in English and Spanish.

The State Fair of Texas is expected to return in 2021. (Courtesy Kevin Brown/State Fair of Texas)
State Fair of Texas cancels 2020 season

This is the eighth time in the fair’s 134-year history that the event has been called off.

Coronavirus cases surging in the Bay Area

As the economy continues to restart and businesses have begun to reopen, COVID-19 cases are surging in Galveston and Harris counties, resulting in the highest number of new daily cases since the pandemic began.

Houston, League City police departments changing in wake of George Floyd’s death

A late-May video of native Houstonian George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody spurred nationwide protests such as the one in Houston and a few in League City and the Bay Area seeking justice and police reform.

(Courtesy Fotolia)
El Dorado Boulevard widening underway

After a few months of delays, the widening of El Dorado Boulevard in Clear Lake is officially underway.