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Hospitals ask for help with homemade masks

As coronavirus infections continue to spread personal protective equipment is in high demand.

EAST STROUDSBURG, Pa. — Over the last few days, Allen Figueroa has been behind his sewing machine. Normally, he's working at Pennsylvania Autism Action Center near Brodheadsville as a behavior therapist, but because of coronavirus, the center is closed.

He's spending his time at home making homemade face masks to donate to hospitals, nursing homes, and other medical facilities.

"I know a lot of facilities, nursing homes, things like that, people just don't have supplies. I have this time off unfortunately, because of this virus, so why not do something constructive and try to help as much as I can?'

Lehigh Valley Health Network officials sent out a news release earlier this week, asking the community for help sewing face masks.

Those who have a sewing machine or know how to sew, are asked to use tightly woven, breathable cotton fabric or another tightly woven, breathable fabric blend. You also will need elastic banding for over the ears.

"We really appreciate the community coming together to help out the hospital and the health care staff to sew masks for them. It is very appreciated," said Dr. Susheer Gandotra, LVHN-Pocono infectious disease director.

"We will certainly accept any donation of cloth masks, but also we've seen very generous residents in our community who have come forward with protective equipment, like masks, goggles, gowns. We will accept those donations and are thankful for the people who have come forward at this time," said Elizabeth Wise, LVHN-Pocono president.

The CDC says homemade masks should only be used as a last resort as their ability to protect against COVID-19 is unknown. If there are worn, they should be used in combination with a face shield that covers the front and sides of the face.

For more information on how to make face masks or where masks can be donated, click here.

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