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Seamstresses wanted to sew protective masks

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CENTREVILLE — With first responders across the country reporting a shortage of personal protective equipment, award-winning quilt artist Teri O’Meara of Centreville has turned her needle to fill a more urgent need. She started out making protective masks for Queen Anne’s County responders and friends at high risk, but her effort has swiftly expanded to a regional one.

What is needed now are volunteer seamstresses throughout the Mid-Shore.

“Cloth washable masks are better than freaking nothing for our first responders,” she said.

On Sunday, O’Meara said Centreville Police Department told her they were down to five masks, and the Queen Anne’s County Sheriff’s Office didn’t have any.

O’Meara said there is an immediate need for 510 masks in Queen Anne’s County, 685 masks in Talbot, 250 in Caroline and 216 in Kent. Dorchester had not yet responded.

O’Meara is coordinating volunteer seamstresses in Queen Anne’s, and she has lined up coordinators in Caroline and Talbot counties. She said she still needs volunteer coordinators for Kent and Dorchester counties.

Ideally, coordinators would have solid sewing skills plus good organizational and critical thinking skills and the ability to problem solve and overcome obstacles quickly, she said. The job could be shared by a husband and wife or mother and daughter — any combination to get the job done.

Duties include providing patterns to sewers with helpful sewing tips, if needed, and maintaining a list of seamstresses in their county to be called upon when additional masks are needed according to changing and emerging needs.

“Cloth masks do not take the place pf good hygiene practices recommended by the CDC and social distancing. They will not prevent infection by COVID-19. If no masks are available to first responders or those who are high risk who must go into the community, the masks cut down on viral load and are better than nothing at all.” O’Meara said. “Additionally, some jurisdictions are using cloth masks to extend the life of N95 masks.”

O’Meara has a pattern and can provide specific instructions on how to make a mask. Fortunately, she said, she has a large stash of fabric on hand and said she expects other sewers do as well.

“Seamstresses are urgently needed to help now,” she said. “We are on our own, so we must alert and motivate anyone who can sew in our county to help out.”

To get involved, call O’Meara at 410-758-3230.

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