Mask, Gloves and Goggles in Pile Isolated on White Background.

By Shereen Siewert

Through news releases and social media posts, regional health organizations are asking the public to help alleviate a national shortage of face masks curing the COVID-19 outbreak by donating industrial masks to area hospitals — even seeking hand-sewn masks to provide a protective barrier for patients.

“We’ve had a great response from businesses in the Wausau area and surrounding communities who’ve generously donated medical supplies to help us fight coronavirus,” said Teri Wilczek, chief philanthropy officer, Marshfield Clinic Health System Foundation. “It takes a community banding together in challenging times and we’re greatly appreciative of their efforts.”

Supplies of N95 respirators have dwindled as anxiety surrounding the COVID-19 outbreak rises, and some hospitals in Wisconsin and the U.S. have been unable to get new shipments of the masks, leading to rationing at some sites, according to multiple media and government reports.

Access to N95 respirators is crucial for frontline health care workers to manage the outbreak and care for increasing numbers of ill patients. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not approved using cloth masks as an alternative to clinical surgical or N95 masks, but hand-sewn masks are being sought for patient distribution purposes only. Medical-grade N95 masks will be conserved for health care providers, officials said.

A Facebook post from the Marshfield Clinic Health System Center reads, “Can you sew? Are you staying home and need a DIY project? Marshfield Clinic Health System Foundation is collecting donations of sewn face masks to alleviate the national shortage during the COVID-19 outbreak. If you or someone you know is able, please consider sewing face masks for patients at Marshfield Clinic Health System.”

Natalyn Janeanne, assistant vice-president of marketing at AbbyBank, where mask donations are being accepted, said donations from tattoo parlors or dentist offices that have been forced to close are also urged.

Instructions to sew masks can be found in the photos included with the post, found here, and are at the bottom of this page.

Masks can be delivered at the following locations:

MCHS Wellness Center
Tuesday and Fridays, 11am – 1pm
717 Western Street
Marshfield WI, 54449

Acoustic Cafe – Eau Claire
Tuesdays and Fridays, 11am – 1pm
505 S. Barstow St.
Eau Claire, WI 54701
Barstow St. entry

KJ’s Fresh Market
Monday – Friday, 8am – 6pm
719 2nd St.
Chetek, WI 54728
Drop box located inside of the 2 automatic entry doors

Marketplace Foods
Tuesday and Fridays, 11am – 1pm
330 S. Main St.
Rice Lake, WI 54868
South Entry by Liquor Store entry is dropoff site

Christie Country Quilts LLC
32 Hewett Street
Neillsville, WI 54456
Tuesday – Friday, 9am – 5 pm and Saturdays 9 am – 1 pm 4
Drop off box In entryway by the front door

Soap ‘n Suds/What’s The Scoop?
Tuesdays and Fridays, 11am – 1pm
816 1st Ave
Woodruff, WI 54568

AbbyBank locations in Wausau, Weston, Abbotsford or Medford:

305 S. 18th Avenue
Wausau, WI
Drop off bin in building lobby

2405 Schofield Avenue
Weston, WI
Drop off bin in building lobby

401 E. Spruce
Abbotsford, WI
Drop off bin outside lobby door (lobby closed); staff will bring inside

215 S. 8th Street
Medford, WI
Drop off bin outside lobby door (lobby closed); staff will bring inside

In addition to masks, the Marshfield Clinic Health System is seeking donations of gowns, gloves, face shields and goggles and will arrange for pickup of donated items, if needed. Donations are a tax-deductible charitable gift to Marshfield Clinic Health System Foundation. Contact Karen Piel, 715-897-1527, for information on how to donate.