Chandler woman making masks for workers SanTan Sun News

Chandler woman making masks for workers

April 9th, 2020 development
Chandler woman making masks for workers
Neighbors
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By Kevin Reagan
Staff Writer

A Chandler woman is making protective face masks for workers who must still venture outside their homes and report to work amidst the COVID-19 health crisis.

Jessica Srinivasan recently delivered 100 face masks to nutritional workers of the Chandler Unified School District who spend several hours each day hand-delivering food to lines of cars at various campuses.

Srinivasan spent up to 15 hours cutting, ironing, and sewing 75 of the masks herself. The rest were stitched together by another volunteer.

The Chandler mother said she had initially joined a Facebook group that was dedicated to making masks for local health care workers. A shortage of basic protective gear in hospitals across the country has been forcing community members to fill the deficit themselves by cranking out masks through their sewing machines at home.

But Srinivasan realized there were several people not working in hospitals or nursing homes who were also at risk of getting exposed to the COVID-19 virus.

Once she discovered the local school district still had employees directly interacting with the public, Srinivasan knew they might benefit from some extra protection.

“They probably need it more than anyone right now,” she said.

Srinivasan used to run a children’s boutique and already had a stash of fabrics and supplies saved up by the time her family went into self-isolation a couple weeks ago.

Though she’s often having to care for a 6-year-old son with special needs, Srinivasan found the time to begin crafting together masks that would meet the federal government’s strict guidelines.

All her masks consist of two layers of 100-percent cotton fabric and include a pocket where an additional air filter can be placed.

Srinivasan is currently in the process of sewing more masks for school nurses who have been assigned to preside over special daycares for the children of health care workers.

She’s additionally been tracking people on Facebook who have been posting requests for protective masks and has volunteered to meet their needs. In less than a 48-hour period, Srinivisan had accumulated orders for more than 60 masks.

“This was just my way of giving back,” she said. “I need to do something for this community that means a lot to us and this is the only thing I could think of to do.”

A couple months ago, Srinivasan put out a call for help in Chandler for residents to support her family in a contest to win a bike that would accommodate her special-needs son.

The Chandler Police Department and local schools published posts on social media, pledging support for the Srinivasan family. By early April, enough donations had been collected for the family to purchase the custom-made bike.

Srinivasan said that experience made her feel extremely connected with the community. So now she wants to give back to Chandler at a time when the city’s facing an unprecedented health crisis.

“I’m really thankful for everyone in Chandler who came together,” Srinivasan said.

She hopes to receive the bike by next month, since her son’s had a difficult time adjusting to quarantine life. He’s nonverbal and nonmobile and depends on his parents to keep him entertained throughout the day.

Srinivasan said her family tries to go for walks or drives around Chandler, but her son misses the routine he had grown accustomed to before the pandemic.

“We’re constantly doing stuff to keep him happy and sane,” she added.

As for the masks, Srinivasan plans to continue finding special populations in need of protection for however long this pandemic lasts.

“I think people are still wanting them, so I’ll keep making them,” she said.

Srinivasan’s not the only Chandler resident to devote her time to making masks in recent weeks.

Shannon Brannan’s Facebook group, Mask Making for Arizona Health Care Workers, has attracted 680 members within the first two weeks it was created.

The Chandler woman said her group’s masks are not exactly intended to replace the masks used to treat COVID-19 patients — they’re rather meant to supplement the masks used for other medical tasks.

“We have nurses right now who are contacting us because they can’t use those masks unless they’re working on a COVID-19 patient,” Brannan told Public News Service. “A lot of the hospitals now have agreed to let them bring their own ready-made masks.”

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