Bloomington, Monroe County fabric mask update: Thousands made, still more needed

The latest Centers for Disease Control guidance on the topic supports wearing cloth face masks by members of the general public to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

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Kelly Clark, co-organizer of the Bloomington Indiana Fabric Mask Drive, at the city’s Allison-Jukebox Community Center, where the drive is now headquartered. (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)

That endorsement from the top health protection agency in the country squares up with local efforts in Bloomington and Monroe County to make and distribute such masks to people in non-health care settings.

Those efforts started a few weeks ago, before the more supportive recommendations from the CDC were released.

Christina Kempf, who’s the county’s public health coordinator, told The Square Beacon on Tuesday that the county’s program has now produced 1,095 homemade masks. The county is publicizing its mask making effort with a .pdf file that contains instructions for sewing masks and drop-off locations at four different fire stations around the county.

“We are still in need for more masks,” Kempf said.

When The Square Beacon checked in with the Bloomington Indiana Fabric Mask Drive on Tuesday afternoon, the report from organizers Kelly Clark and Nola Neher Hartman was 5,964 masks distributed so far.

The mask drive has shifted operations to Bloomington’s Allison-Jukebox Community Center, which the city has put at the group’s disposal. According to a Bloomington press release issued on Tuesday, the city is directing employees to wear a cloth mask if their work puts them in close quarters with others.

The available space at the community center means a “clean room” has been set up for sorting the masks.

The community center is now the nexus for volunteers to pick up mask making material and drop-off finished masks. It’s also where people who’ve requested masks can pick them up. Masks are provided at no cost to those who request them.

Clark said the city is lending support not just with the building space, but with phone calls made by city staff to people who have requested masks, to coordinate pickup.

People and organizations who need masks, can register on the website that Clark has set up.

Clark told The Square Beacon that a good way for people to support the drive to to make a donation to the United Way by mailing a check to the United Way, 431 S. College Ave, Bloomington, IN 47403. (Write: “Bloomington Fabric Mask Drive” in the memo line.)

Scenes from Allison-Jukebox Community Center on April 14, 2020

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Scenes from Indiana University Campus

The Square Beacon used a backup mask acquired from the Bloomington Fabric Mask Drive to stage these photos on campus. (That is, no masks were wasted.)

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Hoagy says: “I have ears, which means I can loop the elastic behind them and wear a mask, unlike that stupid fish on the top of the courthouse, who’s been named after me.”
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Herman says: “B Wells, and stay wells.”
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Ernie says, “Fine. Put a mask on my statue, but please don’t put words in my mouth.”