Local Group Sews Masks to Fight Shortage

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SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) A local group, called ‘the Masked Bandits’, is trying to make a difference while keeping their distance.

“I immediately was like oh my gosh this is the best thing for people to do while sitting at home,” Tonyehn Verkitus, Executive Director of the Lackawanna and Luzerne County Medical Societies, said.

They’re making homemade masks for healthcare staff working on the front lines of the fight to stop the spread of Coronavirus.

“There are certain CDC protocols around this in instances where there is a lack of CDC masks,” Verkitus said.

The project was organized by the Lackawanna and Luzerne County Medical Societies. They say the masks can also go beyond doctors and nurses.

“But there’s also maintenance people and people who are involved in food prep that are in the hospitals as well,” Verkitus said.

“This isn’t the most ideal mask set up but these are things that can be sterilized and washed and used over and over,” Katie Gilmartin, a volunteer part of ‘the Masked Bandits’ said.

The masks take about 20 minutes each to make. They also provide a mental boost for the volunteers.

“I think this also helps to lift the spirits for people at home. Because it helps them to realize how they can help in a situation where really they thought they were kind of stuck and waiting for the next bomb,” Verkitus said.

“It’s one way we can bring a little brightness to this very difficult situation,” Gilmartin said.

The Masked Bandits started their project Saturday and already have 10 volunteers, even some from out of state.

“You know it’s amazing to be able to take…. I’ve got this little pile fabric here that I’m going to turn into something useful. And you know that, there’s such a sense of satisfaction,” Gilmartin said.

The list of drop of locations can be found here.

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