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Spokane County opens donation site for homemade masks

While local healthcare workers aren't accepting homemade masks, they can be given to individuals to stop the spread of respiratory droplets.

SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. — Spokane County is opening a site on Thursday where people can donate hand-sewn masks during the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

The move comes amid a national shortage of PPE, or personal protection equipment, during the outbreak.

The masks will be mostly provided to those who are ill to prevent the spread of respiratory droplets, which is the primary transmission source for COVID-19, according to Spokane County Health Officer Dr. Bob Lutz.

Local healthcare providers aren't accepting donations of homemade masks because the masks can't be guaranteed to be sterile. Homemade masks also don't provide the same level of protection as manufactured N95 masks, according to Lutz.

“While the use of sewn face masks will not be discouraged, it is understood the benefits to healthy individuals are not great. They are useful, however, for those who are ill and coughing/sneezing, as they will serve to prevent spread of respiratory droplets” Lutz is quoted as saying in a news release.

The incident management team also is accepting unopened boxes of PPE, including gowns, hand sanitizer, gloves, masks, eye protection, paper towels, disinfectants and toilet paper.

While the team will accept homemade masks, it said in its release that masks meeting CDC guidelines are the most important.

People can donate handmade masks and other PPE to the Northeast corner of the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. All items must be new and unused. Homemade masks will be decontaminated. 

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