REGION — A group that started on Facebook less than a week ago, “A Mask for a Mask,” has quickly taken off, with hundreds of people joining to help provide additional protection to those working the front lines.

The effort started at Valley View Hospital in Colorado, where Kate Bradley, a friend of Bethel resident Sarah DeCato, works (she used to be a nurse in Maine).

Bradley and a couple other nurses decided to take blue wrap, which is hospital grade surgical material, to make masks to cover their N95 masks.

“There’s a decrease in personal protective equipment around so the goal is to create these masks to cover the N95s to prolong their use,” DeCato said. “It’s very important that we look out for our healthcare workers that are doing front line work.”

DeCato is an administrator for the “A Mask for a Mask” group, and also works in the healthcare field. It was her friend’s effort out west that prompted DeCato to get mask making group started in Maine.

The goal is to get masks to wherever needed statewide.

DeCato emphasized, however, that the masks they are making do not take the place of the N95 masks. She noted that if protective gear continues to run low, other masks may have to take the place of N95s regardless.

Anyone who wants to be a part of “A Mask for a Mask” should fill out the “Sewing Masks for Maine Healthcare Providers” form.

Administrator Sarah DeCato has posted the form on the “A Mask for a Mask” Facebook page, as well as her own personal Facebook page. She said she can also email the form to people.

Anyone can join “A mask for a mask” page and help. People do not need to have sewing skills to help out either. The group is looking for people to deliver masks and materials that can be used to make masks.

The masks should be made with double ply, 100 percent cotton, breathable material, DeCato said.

“That’s what we’re encouraging people to use to make them across the state. There are numerous patterns people can use also,” DeCato said.

Close to 400 people have joined “A Mask for a Mask” so far.

“When needs arise, we will be in touch with people,” DeCato said.

The group has also partnered with a group in southern Maine called “Sewing Masks for Maine.”

People with questions can contact DeCato by calling 357-8860.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Robert Long, spokesman for the Maine CDC, said Monday that the state is not advising medical providers to use donated homemade masks and that people should be aware that homemade masks have not gone through the same safety tests as masks worn by first responders and medical providers

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