feature image contributed by Sam Manzella
We’re in the midst of a global pandemic. Words most of us never thought about before are suddenly crowding our brains: novel coronavirus, droplet, community spread, containment, drive-through testing, social distancing, curbside pickup, masks. Even at the best of times during a public health crisis, new information is immense and best practices can change quickly, leading to confusion and panic. In the United States, we are not exactly experiencing the best of times during a public health crisis, and finding clear, direct information about how we should be proceeding during this scary and destabilizing time has not been easy.
The latest confusing issue? Masks. For a deep dive reported piece on what’s been going on with masks, read Ed Young’s Everyone Thinks They’re Right About Masks for The Atlantic. Basically, the people of the United States were told not to wear face masks, with a clear campaign endorsed by The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that civilians should avoid buying masks and leave them for medical professionals. But with continued community spread and the acceptance that humans with zero symptoms can carry and pass on the virus for up to 14 days, the CDC has changed its recommendation and now says everyone should wear a mask when leaving home. One major important thing to note: a mask is simply an extra defense for when you have to go outside – it should not make you feel as though you are free to stop practicing social distancing. Also, when making masks at home, not all fabrics are created equally – here are some guidelines from scientists about which fabrics work best for DIY face masks.
Hoarding medical masks is still obviously a no (you as a civilian don’t need an N95 mask and you absolutely should donate any of those you may stored in your house to hospitals where the staff on the frontlines really need them!), and in many places it’s impossible to find any kind of mask to purchase at all. Lucky for us, queers have been crafty since the dawn of time, so this should not deter us. As soon as the mask conversation shifted, no fewer than ten queers on my Instagram feed started showing off their skills by creating their own DIY face masks. I have faith in us.
Here are some of my favorite tutorials for making DIY face masks. If you’ve found other ones you like please drop the link in the comment section, and if you or another queer you love are selling handmade face masks on Etsy (or elsewhere), let us know so those of us who would rather let someone else make a mask for us can support you!