Kodiak Mask Makers churn out hundreds of masks for Kodiak’s emergency response

In response to state and international health advisories that anyone going out in public wear a mask, Kodiak’s Emergency Operations Center launched a drive for 2000 face masks to supply to the local community.

Masks are widely recommended to protect people from transmitting respiratory droplets from the nose and mouth — those are the primary carriers of the coronavirus, according to the CDC. And with the worldwide shortage of surgical and more protective masks, people are turning to homemade styles.

“I started making masks for the veterinary clinic probably a month or more ago,” said Emily Iacobucci, a veterinarian at Kodiak Veterinary Clinic. “Because we knew we were going to run out of our surgical masks.”

An assembly line setup for homemade masks. (Photo courtesy Emily Iacobucci)

Earlier this month, Iacobucci launched the Kodiak Mask Makers Facebook group, which links up people who need masks with numerous community members sewing them at home.

“That got popular very quickly,” she said. “And people are doing a really awesome job with that, just sharing resources and being supportive of each other. And we have a massive request form to that Facebook page right now.” By last Friday morning, Iacobucci said they had over 120 requests for about 1000 masks.

Emily Iacobucci, Kodiak Mask Makers organizer, wearing a handmade mask. (Photo courtesy Emily Iacobucci)

Francis De La Fuente, public information officer for the EOC said they reached out to Kodiak Mask Makers with a request for 2000 masks, to try to help ensure that anyone who can’t afford a mask, or simply doesn’t have one, can still get access to proper face protection.

With EOC funding and donated materials from Kodiak Marine Supply, The Rookery and others, Iacobucci and a team of more than two dozen volunteers are churning out homemade face masks. The EOC says as of Monday they’d received 300 masks, 200 of which are already being distributed to nonprofit organizations like Kodiak Women’s Resource and Crisis Center and the Brother Francis shelter.

“All of the organizations that have received them have had nothing but phrase and very excited to have these things, especially some of them continuing operations, potentially with folks that are at risk,” said Corey Gronn, director of Parks and Recreation, who first reached out to Kodiak Mask Makers.

“Really, not only is the community building within the 30-some members within the mask-making group but it’s given the organizations brightness at the end of the tunnel,” said Gronn. “They know they have people supporting them while they’re going to operate.”

De La Fuente says within the next week they plan to announce a public pick-up site at the high school where people who need a mask can drive by to get one — of course, while maintaining social distancing.

Anyone who would like to volunteer as a mask maker can check the Kodiak Mask Makers Facebook page. The group has resources posted, including patterns, updates from other masks makers and instruction sheets to accompany each mask during distribution.

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