by Bill Batson
Our region has become the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. By yesterday, April 6th, Rockland County had recorded 119 deaths and 5,700 cases. In the face of this tidal wave of contagion, creatives in Nyack have enlisted to protect the front line.
Over 250 volunteers have formed NyackMaskMakers.com to protect health care workers from this microscopic, lethal threat. Since launching on March 20, we have collectively produced over 3,000 masks, provided primarily to Montefiore Nyack Hospital. We tripled our goal of 500 masks per week.
A global #masks4rall movement has shown that communities that practice universal face covering #flattenthecurve. Nyack has to find a way to support everyone in making or finding a free-homemade cloth face mask, while leaving manufactured masks for our health care workers.
Initially, our goal was to provide a quality home-made level 2 mask to health care workers. Now, we are exploring how to expand our production in light of this from the Center for Disease Control on Friday, April 4:
CDC continues to study the spread and effects of the novel coronavirus across the United States. We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms. This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms. In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
Countries, like Taiwan and the Czech Republic, that have achieved more the 80% participation in public face covering, have been able to more rapidly reopen their economies. If portions of the public can not make or obtain free cloth masks, the curve flattening critical mass can not be met. We need #masks4all in Nyack.
The weight of the loss of life, in our county, country and around the world is so enormous, a way forward feels uncertain. And still, the helpers rise, on porches, street corners, restaurants, laptops and in our case, with sewing machines.
To date, we have given masks to:
- Montefiore Nyack Hospital
- Nyack Ridge Rehabilitation and Nursing Center
- Rockland Psychiatric Center
- Blaisdell Addiction Treatment Center
- Chemical Dependency Unit of Good Samaratan Hospital
- Cardinal McCloskey Community services
- Center for Safety and Change
- Nyack Center
- Bronx Lebanon
- Flushing Hospital
The health care workers who risk their life every shift have two messages to the community that has stepped up to support them. One is thanks and two is… “please stay home and #flattenthecurve.”
Donna and I have witnessed that, like the virus, the volume of community effort has been growing exponentially. But in order to prevail, we must settle in for the long haul.
A Yale University study published April 1, 2020 argues if masks4all is embraced adopted, the virus could be stopped cold.
The effectiveness of the universal adoption of homemade cloth face masks in mitigating this public health crisis; we find that this policy could have very large benefits, but that it should be coupled with policies that protect and increase the availability of medical masks for frontline healthcare workers.
Recently, only half of the people I see outside the home are wearing masks.
We will be announcing a Mask4All plan with the Village of Nyack on Wednesday, April 8 at 11am on Facebook live, thanks to the social media services of Christine Gritmon.
“I cannot begin to tell you how many makers have expressed how grateful they are to have this opportunity to use their sewing skills at this time.”
They contribute to the community and feel they’re making a difference while coping with uncertainty like the rest of us,” said Nyack Mask Maker co-founder Donna Timm.
To learn visit nyackmaskmakers.com
For more information visit
Nyack Sketch Log: Nyack Mask Makers
Nyack Sketch Log: Special COVID-19 Edition: Wash Them, Do Not Shake Them
Bill Batson is an artist and writer who lives and sketches in Nyack, NY. Nyack Sketch Log: “Mask4all” © 2020 Bill Batson. To see more, visit billbatsonarts.com