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San Diego volunteers start restoring 300,000 defective N95 masks for medical workers


Read the full article by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña in the San Diego Union-Tribune here.

In an effort to increase the supply of protective masks for health care workers, volunteers at the Rock Church are restoring 300,000 filtering face masks.

Nearly 100 volunteers spent Monday afternoon at the Rock Church in Point Loma replacing elastic straps on thousands of N95 masks, which are respirators that filter 95 percent of small particles. The volunteer effort, in partnership with San Diego County’s Office of Emergency Services, could save the county $1 million.

"We are grateful Rock Church and its members have partnered with us to fix 300,000 vital N95 respirators by repairing the broken elastic bands of masks in our inventory," said Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, Co-Chair of the County of San Diego COVID-19 Subcommittee. "San Diegans are stepping-up in extraordinary ways under this unprecedented public health crisis and this collaboration is another example."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidelines on March 10 that face masks are an acceptable alternative, “when the supply chain of respirators cannot meet the demand” and that N95 masks should be used when a procedure poses a higher exposure risk.

“Our goal and intent is to provide our healthcare workers with the best possible (personal protective equipment) available,” county spokeswoman Alexandra Saint wrote in an email Monday.