Living in the Age of COVID-19: 3/28/20


White Rainbow Root, 2008, Steve Tobin (Naples Botanical Garden)

I have been moved and angered by the lack of personal protection equipment (PPE) for the people who are working in healthcare, trying to test people who think they have been infected and are scared, and people who are treating and trying to save people who are really sick because of age and pre-existing compromising conditions. I have been feeling helpless so decided to make masks after the leader of our sewing group at church circulated a pattern. Actually it hasn’t been that straight forward.

I became paralyzed as I read comments on the website for the pattern. There was a lot of discussion about what material could be used between the two layers of fabric and other links to follow for information. One site ( gave results of some research they did on different fabrics/materials that are readily available for improvised masks. When breathability was factored in they determined that pillow cases and cotton tee fabric were the best choice. Note: this information, like most information passed around the internet, didn’t provide enough information and there seemed to be holes in their research. But this is a crisis and sometimes we just have to do something, because something that may be flawed is usually better than nothing at all if there aren’t good options available.

The pattern suggested double layers of fabric with some kind of filtering in between. I have lots of quilt fabric, most of it very good, finely woven fabric, so I was ready to go. I tested double layers and found I couldn’t breath through it so I decided on a single layer. But then I wondered whether there was some way to hold another layer (coffee filters were suggested somewhere).

This is where I made a seismic shift. I decided to stop thinking and just do it. I have always been a thinker more than a do-er but they need masks now – not after I get all my thinking done. I am moving ahead using up all appropriate fabric that I have in Florida and will find people who can use them later. So far I have made about 20 of them this week and gave 10 to friends in our condo community. These don’t protect against COVID-19 as is but will definitely keep us from touching our face when we shop for essentials.

This project is good for me. As I have been sewing I have thought of the women who rolled bandages for the Red Cross during the Civil War and WWI. I have thought about victory gardens and rationing. I have shifted my thinking from how to make a perfect mask to how to be a good citizen. I have stopped myself from going out to public places because staying home may be hard for me but it is good for society. I have quieted my fears that leads me to buy more than I need this week because I want there to be enough for everyone to have some. Someone at the pool (observing social-distancing) said I should be selling the masks – but this isn’t the time to be making extra money I don’t need, its the time to be helping people. We are fighting a battle against a silent but deadly enemy that is so different that it is changing who we are in ways that we won’t understand for many years. I am wondering whether the health of our society requires we give up some of our personal rights and privileges for the “common good.” I’m think on this.

Let’s keep those rainbow roots watered.

13 thoughts on “Living in the Age of COVID-19: 3/28/20

  1. Our state just went on a stay at home order except for going to grocery etc. I’ve been helping with phone calls to some of our church members that are high risk, shut in etc. Right now, our local healthcare system is keeping up. In my former life I used to work in the clinical laboratory. I can only imagine what those behind -the-scenes professionals are dealing with now!! Keep taking care of your health and safety!!


  2. It feels to be doing something doesn’t it. I am just doing some bits of shopping for neighbours who have to stay inside, and it is as good for me as it is for them.


  3. I’m all for “I have shifted my thinking from how to make a perfect mask to how to be a good citizen.” I’m trying to do the good citizen bit, not to be a strain on the health service and give what support I can to others….as I’m not going out, it’s keeping in touch with others by phone


    • Thanks, there are so many wonderful people helping in so many ways. Sometimes it feels like the “worst of times, and the best of times.”


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