Woman starts Operation Come Together to sew cloth masks for those in need during pandemic

Posted at 12:57 PM, Mar 24, 2020

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. -- The coronavirus crisis is creating all types of shortages — chief among them is medical apparel like gowns, gloves and especially masks.

Yes, more will be manufactured, but in the meantime, average citizens are stepping up to fill the need.

“Four days ago I woke up and said we’re going to make masks,” said Victoria Shoulders.

She contacted friends and started Operation Come Together in the driveway of her Clarksville home.

“You have to come together and get a group of people to provide what they can,” said volunteer Rhett Barnes.

More than 200 volunteers have now stepped up with items to meet CDC basic guidelines for emergency masks — cotton fabric and paracord in place of elastic since there’s none of that left.

Sewing teams put the masks together. Word has spread and requests are coming in to Shoulders.

“Right now 4,600 masks needed from Hendersonville to Paducah, with more requests coming,” said Shoulders.

The cloth masks will go to hospitals, nursing homes and any other front line worker who needs one.

Shoulders concedes these masks are not as good as the N95 professional facemasks, but they are stop gap.

“This is what we can do. We don’t know if they will work 100 percent, but something is better than nothing,” said Shoulders. “We will keep making them until we don’t need to do it anymore.”

Shoulders heads up just one of many citizens groups trying to help fill the immediate need for more masks.

Vanderbilt Medical Center says while they have an adequate supply of personal protective equipment, they know there's a need worldwide. They've posted instructions on how to sew cloth masks on their website.

This story was originally published by Nick Beres at WTVF.