As of Friday, that group is putting its operations on pause, after creating over 31,000 masks locally, and helping St. Charles Health System meet its goal of having 10,000 community-made masks on hand to help shore up their stockpile of manufactured masks.
- COEMM on Facebook
- The Central Oregon Emergency Mask Makers Facebook group's home page image, with a "ticker" of how many masks and face shields the group made.
And while the efforts have resulted in tens of thousands of masks being made locally, with requests filled from Warm Springs to La Pine to Prineville, Melton said now that St. Charles has a stockpile, she and the other organizers felt they could pause.
"Getting the masks to the nurses and staff at St. Charles was the first main mission. Once we finally got the hospital administrators on board and and their staff covered, we shifted focus to other agencies," Melton wrote in a Facebook message to the Source. "It began to overwhelm me, as I was the person making all these collections, delivering to facilities to have them cleaned, packaging them individually, and then delivering them. I personally began to feel vulnerable and exposed and not really prioritizing my own safety. So we switched gears, and after discussing it with our little group of admins, we decided to take ourselves out of the equation and have people donate directly to the organization that was requesting masks. It worked, but people were still breaking quarantine and we want people to follow guidelines for safety."
- COEMM on Facebook
- Group organizer Laura Wang posted this image on the COEMM page—a sticker that those who joined the group will be able to pick up at the group's drop-off locations in the coming days to recall their heroic efforts.
On April 13, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began recommending that people wear masks in public to help slow the spread of novel coronavirus. Today, many local as well as national companies are crafting masks that people can buy—so while many average people are still in need of masks to go about everyday tasks such as grocery shopping, the group organizers say they know those people can get what they need.
"The other major factor that prompted us to put our group on pause is that everyone wants a mask—every individual, every business, every office," Melton said. "Although their need is real and important, our group was designed to bridge a gap for health care workers and agencies that we rely on to have a safe and protected community. Also, in the past two weeks companies have developed online sales for cloth face covers that allow business and corporate companies to purchase masks for their employees (as they should). We didn’t want to turn our grassroots effort into a free for all, it would have been too much for our group. We want COEMM to stay intact so we can be ready when the next big change happens."
- Anne Tully/COEMM on Facebook
- The finished products of a Central Oregon mask maker.
As of Friday, COEMM drop sites will be closed, but the group reminds people they can drop off masks at these locations for distribution to the wider community:
Bend Albertsons North - 1800 NE Third St., Bend
Bend Albertsons South - 6155 S. Hwy 97, Bend
Sisters St. Charles Family Care - 630 N. Arrowleaf Trail, Sisters
Prineville Wagner's Market - 930 N. Main St., Prineville
Redmond Logan's Market - 900 SW 23rd. St., Redmond
Madras Erickson's Thriftway - 561 SW Fourth St., Madras
Mosaic Medical mask drop off locations:
2084 NE Professional Ct, Bend
111 NW Larch Ave, Redmond
375 NW Beaver St., Ste 101, Prineville
390 SE 10th St., Madras
And for those looking for patterns, here's a video shared by Quiltsmart in La Pine on the COEMM page this week: