GREAT FALLS — Hospitals and healthcare workers are being hit hard by the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) across the nation and here in Montana, and there are many people wondering what they can do to help. Many hospitals and clinic are dealing with short supply of masks, prompting some people to begin working on creating their own at home - some using technology such as 3D printing, and others by firing up their sewing machines.
Now, the Great Falls Clinic has released guidelines for sewers and like-minded crafters who want to help, and posted the following message on its website:
- The Great Falls Clinic is seeking homemade masks to prepare and offset the limited supplies available to healthcare workers. There are some specific requirements for acceptable masks which are provided in the links below. Mask patterns must be followed by using the tutorial video located at the link below. This is the only pattern approved by the Great Falls Clinic at this time.
- All homemade masks must have a built-in pocket for a filter to be placed in. Currently there are no allowed modifications for the mask unless there is a low supply of a certain material used to make them. All masks must be delivered to the Great Falls Clinic as we have limited volunteers available to pick them up. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or with questions.
- Additionally, the Great Falls Clinic is accepting 3D printed masks. The 3D-printed mask has a snap-in section for filtration material that can be changed out as needed. We are asking all those that have access to 3D printing to consider assisting with this effort.
If you would like to help, please click here for specific instructions and video tutorials at the Great Falls Clinic website, or click here for a PDF version.
They also announced a new Facebook group called Medical Masks For Great Falls; click here to visit the page.
Benefis Health System provided the following statement on Monday, March 23: "Recently, many community members have reached out to Benefis staff offering to supply us with handmade fabric masks. While we greatly appreciate the community's efforts to assist us during this time of mask shortage, we cannot accept handmade/fabric masks, as they do not prevent infection spread as effectively as clinical-grade masks."
As of Tuesday morning (March 24), there are 46 confirmed cases of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Montana.
Here is the total by county:
Lewis & Clark: 3
Silver Bow: 3
There have not been any deaths in Montana attributed to COVID-19 at this point.
Officials in Montana are keeping a list of confirmed cases in the Treasure State on an updated map and website - click here to visit the site. A spokesman for the Montana COVID-19 Task Force says that positive test results for Montana residents who are currently outside the state will not be included in the totals reported on the website, and said: "The state recognizes that its reporting totals will differ from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) total as a result of these reporting processes." Experts still believe the true number of people infected with COVID-19 remains much higher than the number of confirmed cases.
As of Monday afternoon, the DPHHS public health lab in Helena has completed 1,688 tests for COVID-19.