N95 Mask Supply in New Braunfels and Mask Collection
Updated: May 26, 2020
Whitney H. Mitchell, MD
There is a dwindling supply of PPE, personal protection equipment, in the nation including in New Braunfels. Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals locally are already noting a shortage of the N95 masks that are necessary to protect themselves and their patients caring for our community. Many medical providers anticipating the coming weeks are reusing masks that would normally be used once.
The N95 mask is the most common mask used in the healthcare setting. When used correctly, the filter removes 95% of particles from the air that are less than 0.3 microns. For comparison, the coronavirus is approximately 125 nanometers (0.125 microns) in size while the virus that causes the flu is 100-300 nanometers (0.1-0.3 microns) in size. Masks are an important part of a healthcare worker's personal protection equipment, and evidence suggests that the N95 masks somewhat decrease the rate of transmission of the virus that causes the flu from patients to providers (Journal of American Medical Association link here).
Healthcare workers are at increased risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 as a risk of their profession; those at higher risk exposure include those working in primary care clinics, the emergency care setting, and the intensive care unit. As a result the families of healthcare workers are also at increased risk of becoming infected with the virus. Some healthcare workers are making the difficult decision to socially distance themselves from their families to avoid putting their families at risk.
Our community can assist. If you or someone you know has N95 masks, please donate them. You can find information on donating unused N95 masks at the end of this article.
Many volunteers in New Braunfels are getting out their sewing machines and creating masks for New Braunfels' healthcare workers. In an initiative created by Chrissy Harris, Homemade Face Masks of New Braunfels was created on Facebook. "Initially a nurse in my neighborhood posted a need for a home made face mask. This seemed like an easy thing for folks to help with while at home, even kiddos. These face masks won’t protect someone from COVID-19, but is better than absolutely nothing." Chrissy now has 300+ people following and crafting fabric face masks, and she shares the instructions to create a mask that includes a pocket for a carbon filter.
Chrissy adds the following message: "There are quite a few people who want to help, but even more requesting them. We need help until we can get our medical professionals flooded with actual N95 masks. This is just a band-aid, judging at the response I’m having. It is a bigger band-aid I ever thought was needed."
For additional information on making fabric masks in New Braunfels, you can follow Chrissy here:
For the pattern and Youtube tutorial to make fabric face masks:
For instructions to make 5 different types of DIY face masks: 5 DIY Masks
To donate N95 masks to New Braunfels' healthcare workers, please drop off masks at 910 Gruene Road, Building 1 during the hours 9 am-2 pm. Call (830) 625-0600 for more details.
For information from the CDC on FAQ's about masks, including fabric masks:
For information from the CDC on use of N95 respirators for healthcare workers:
Dr. Whitney Mitchell is a physician in New Braunfels, Texas. She is a diplomat of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, has been in private practice for 11 years, and has an interest in public health.