Kalamazoo County Government officials are asking those who sew to make and donate face masks for first responders, hospitals and others that are responding to COVID-19 (coronavirus).

The Kalamazoo County Government is calling on all local people who sew to make and donate face masks as the community continues to prepare for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The donated face masks would be distributed upon request to community partners that work with the high risk, vulnerable population such as first responders, hospitals, shelters, long-term care facilities, and other front-line staff. These masks will be used as added protection over medical face masks or for situations where there is little to no coronavirus threat. Having the homemade face masks will help keep face masks supplies from being depleted.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fabric masks are a crisis response option when other supplies have been exhausted. Homemade masks are not considered Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) since their capability to protect the health care provider is unknown. Homemade masks should ideally be used in combination with a face shield that covers the entire front and sides of the face.
“We know there is a supply shortage across the nation with masks and other PPE,” says Tracie Moored, County Administrator. “This is a way that we can prepare now locally and have our community help us take action to protect our most vulnerable residents and our front-line workers.”

Details about making/delivering fabric masks for our community and first responders:

  • The pattern is courtesy of Phoebe Putney Health Systems
  • Remember both women and men in a variety of roles may wear these masks
  • When your masks are complete, drop-off at the Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services
  • Department (311 E. Alcott St., Kalamazoo, MI 49001) Monday through Friday, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 pm. (More drop-off locations listed below)
  • Collected masks will be immediately sent to laundry/processing to be prepared for usage.
  • If there are any surplus masks after the COVID-19 response, those masks will be distributed to other organizations in need

All donations must be dropped off in-person. It is essential that nobody involved in the creation, distribution or delivery of new/unused materials or homemade masks have any symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath) or have recently been exposed to anyone experiencing these symptoms or who has been tested positive for COVID-19.

Bronson will be collecting the acceptable new/unused items from businesses, organizations and community members at the following five locations Monday through Friday, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.:

  • Kalamazoo: Bronson FastCare®, 6220 W. Main St.
  • Portage: Bronson Diagnostics at Woodbridge, 2640 W. Centre St.
  • Battle Creek: Bronson Urology Specialists, 4441 Capital Avenue Southwest
  • Paw Paw: Bronson LakeView Outpatient Center, 451 Health Parkway
  • South Haven: Bronson Family Medicine, 930 Blue Star Highway

Anyone with questions or in need of additional information, please contact Josh Fitzgibbon, Community Activities Branch Director, at fitzgibj@bronsonhg.org.

The Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services Department (HCS) continues to urge individuals to practice social distancing in order to prevent community spread in Kalamazoo County.

HCS has acknowledged that there is a lack of testing supplies and a lack of diagnostic testing capacity in Kalamazoo County. In a Facebook Live video on March 20, Health Officer Jim Rutherford stated, “That is why there is a valid concern about undetected COVID-19 cases in Kalamazoo County.” Currently, all test samples must be approved by the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS) Bureau of Laboratories and follow their sampling criteria. HCS is working with hospital partners to utilize their labs or commercial labs in order to increase the ability to test more individuals. “As more labs become available in our community, the guidelines for testing may broaden. We are also working to secure more testing supplies. We must alleviate
the burden on our healthcare system right now and safeguard the supplies that we do have for our most ill and vulnerable residents,” stated Rutherford.

Kalamazoo County Government will have the face mask pattern and instructions on their website at www.kalcounty.com.

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