• 25°

Fire stations taking face mask donations Saturday

Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan have launched a Homemade Mask Drive to support those working and living in congregate living facilities.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 25, Minnesotans can deliver homemade masks to their local fire station. Fire stations will then deliver the masks to local congregate living facilities for their employees and residents to wear.

All 775 fire departments in the State of Minnesota will participate. Austin’s fire station is located at 122 First Ave. NE.

While they don’t replace medical-grade personal protective equipment, cloth masks help keep the wearer’s germs from getting on other people, which is key to stopping the spread of COVID-19.

Guidelines on creating face masks include:

• Build a mask that tightly encloses the area around the nose and mouth, from the bridge of the nose down to the chin, and extending onto the cheek beyond the corners of the mouth, so no gaps occur when talking or moving.

• Use mask material that is tightly woven but breathable. Double-layer the fabric if possible. Masks must be made from washable material such as fabric. Choose a fabric that can handle high temperatures and bleach without shrinking or otherwise deforming.

• The mask should be tolerant of expected amounts of moisture from breathing.

• Suggested materials include outer layer tea cloth and the inner layer of a microfleece to wick away moisture. Use an accordion fold to mimic a hospital mask as much as possible. Use a fat woven shoelace type material to bind the sides (such as quilt binding). For straps, use elastic straps, shoelaces, or strips of fabric to loop behind the ears.

There is no standard design for a homemade facemask. A guide can be found at https://northmemorial.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/north-memorial-health-homemade-healthcare-masks.pdf.

Masks can also always be donated to the Mower County Emergency Operation Center by calling 507-396-8227.

The CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings to protect others from COVID-19. Cloth face masks can help prevent the wearer’s germs from infecting others – especially in situations where they may spread the virus without symptoms. Cloth face masks are not a proven way to prevent COVID-19 from infecting the wearer.

The Austin Police Department is encouraging all residents to wear source control masks while in public retail spaces, Austin Police Chief David McKichan said. This protects all retail workers and can also help protect friends, family, neighbors, and essential workers as they shop.

“Employers are doing a lot right now to try and protect workers in the workplace,” McKichan said. “Retail workers though need us to help them as we share their workspace. Essential workers when outside of their workplace also need the community to help do that. Wearing a mask is a great way to help. We are also supportive of retailers who have adopted a ‘one cart, one customer’ policy. Having only one person enter retail areas to shop also helps us protect our community and we would strongly recommend following that guidance from our retail sector.”