SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - With millions of face masks desperately needed across the country — there is still a massive shortage of N95 respirators.
That's the only kind of mask approved by the CDC to protect against the coronavirus.
That’s inspired the Shreveport Sewing Center on West Bert Kouns in south Shreveport, to make hundreds and possibly even thousands of homemade masks.
The co-owner of the Shreveport Sewing Center, Debbie Ristig, said well over a dozen seamstresses have been hard at work since last Saturday, trying to make as many of these masks as possible.
In fact, their ultimate goal is to make as many as 25,000 of them before it’s all over.
This group, and others just like them, have been donating the masks to everything from volunteer fire departments to medical personnel at nearby clinics and hospitals.
Ristig explained that the Shreveport Sewing Center is actually making two different masks for the fight against the coronavirus in northwest Louisiana.
“One type is a mask that goes over their N95. So, it’s not there really to provide them protection. It’s there to make their masks live longer. So, it increases the longevity of their mask.”
Their second type of homemade face masks is not intended for anyone on the front lines of fighting the coronavirus
It's designed to go over regular surgical masks, just to add just another level of protection.
The CDC makes it very clear that the only mask that provides protection against COVID-19 is the N-95 respirator, which provides 95 percent protection from the virus.
Critics contend these homemade masks give a false sense of security. However, one agency that just received a free donation of such homemade masks is the Caddo Council on Aging.
And during our visit this Wednesday a batch of new masks was being made at Shreveport Sewing Center for the Caddo Council on Aging, as well.
The Council’s executive director, Monica Wright, told us they’re well aware of the limits of the masks and are grateful to have them, especially for the drivers of their Meals on Wheels program.
"What we have done is offered it to our drivers and we're not making it mandatory that they wear the mask. But we are, you know, giving them the option if they would like to wear the mask while they are out delivering the meals."
Some of those homemade COVID-19 masks were donated to Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport.