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Face masks used to be something for children hustling for candy on Halloween, the tool of train/bank robbers in Western movies, or the pretend-disguise of sophisticated revelers in New Year’s Eve galas.

That changed in the throes of the world-wide corona pandemic. CDC, WHO, and local experts all began to recommend the wearing of face masks to help “flatten the curve,” i.e., stop or at least slow down the spread of the virus. The official medical version of masks – the N95 – is in short supply and is properly reserved for the most front-line of all those who deal with the danger directly – the doctors and nurses and medical techs in our hospitals, the EMTs in our ambulances, other first responders, delivery people, etc.

So, ordinary people began to create homemade versions. The internet was suddenly flooded with patterns for DIY masks and videos on how to turn a T-shirt into a face mask. The idea caught on among several members of FOPL, The Friends of Prospect Lake. Left over swaths of fabric, together with lengths of elastic tape and string, were sought and gathered (the T-shirt idea turned out to be no good – too porous – so, never used.) Cutting boards and sewing machines came out of the cupboards. The western side of Prospect Lake became a mini-assembly line, providing masks free of charge in the North Egremont General Store, in Big-Y Supermarket, Volunteers in Medicine (VIM), South Egremont Post Office, and for a range of friends and relatives on a request basis. Each mask went into a small plastic bag, along with a printed disclaimer stating that this mask did not meet the standards set by the CDC for official medical face masks. The mask makers wanted to be helpful, but also wanted to avoid misleading. A sample of the masks created are included here.

In this difficult time the Friends of Prospect Lake salutes those in our community who are selflessly carrying on to keep us all safe.


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