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As hospitals see mask shortage amid coronavirus pandemic, Californians step in. But are DIY masks useful?

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state needs 500 million masks to keep up during the shortage. Could DIY mask-makers help?

ROSEMONT, California — The medical mask shortage California's hospital has some do-it-yourself enthusiasts taking matters into their own hands. Homemade medical mask-making is a growing trend on the internet with dozens of mask-making tutorials on YouTube and a number of Facebook Groups getting people involved.

Amber Roberts is one of those people, having recently dusted off her sewing machine to make up a few dozen masks. Roberts' masks consist of left over cotton fabric, two pieces of elastic and some trial and error — she'll be the first to admit that she's not great at sewing.

"I am going to send them out to nurses today, and they will teach me what in need to improve on, how I can make them better," said Roberts, a Rosemont resident.

RELATED: California seeks 500 million N95 masks, 50,000 hospital beds | Local coronavirus updates

The N95 medical mask shortage is a real problem, and hospitals all over the country are having a hard time keeping them in stock.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state needs 500 million masks to keep up during the shortage, despite having already distributed 20.7 million masks in the state's hospital system and having 2.5 million still in storage. 

Additionally, Newsom says they'll be looking to get one billion gloves and 200 million shields to accompany those N95 masks.

Meanwhile, Roberts and other mask-makers are trying to what they can to alleviate the shortage, even though the cotton-made masks aren't comparable to the real thing.

"This is for the worst-case scenario. Let's use these and try and stop something," Roberts said.

The mask making design and material varies with each mask-maker and that doesn’t sit well with Dr. Tom Hopkins. The internal medicine doctor in Roseville says health care workers should only use N95 masks.

As for the general public, homemade masks offer little protection from Coronavirus. While N95 masks have been tested and approved for medical use, if everyday people who don't work in the medical field aren't showing symptoms, they don’t need a mask at all, Dr.Hopkins said.

"It's a great gesture, no doubt about it," Hopkins said of homemade masks. "But if you are a health care worker, wearing a cloth mask around the hospital doesn't do any good."

Follow the conversation on Facebook with John Bartell.



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