The Washington State Nurses Association is so grateful for the offers of support for our nurses and other health care workers during the COVID-19 crisis, and we appreciate offers from our community to sew masks. Unfortunately, homemade masks will not meet criteria for the state stockpile and procurement standards – and should not be used by health care providers in lieu of approved PPE.
In the face of extreme shortages in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers on the front lines, one stopgap measure that has been suggested is to use homemade cloth masks with or in lieu of PPE.
The American Nurses Association and WSNA do not endorse the use of homemade cloth masks in health care settings. ANA released the following statement on March 24:
ANA’s Position on the Use of Cloth Masks #
Evidence does not support the notion that cloth masks are safe for health care professionals providing care to patients with coronavirus. ANA continues to press for appropriate PPE including N95 respirators and if those are not available, medical/surgical masks. Nurses should not be wearing cloth masks – they do not afford the wearer any significant protection.
In addition, homemade masks do not meet criteria for the state stockpile and procurement standards. According to CDC Crisis Capacity guidelines (3/17/2020), HCP use of homemade masks should only be considered in settings where facemasks are not available. Homemade masks are not considered PPE, since their capability to protect HCP is unknown.
WSNA is grateful to the public for their continued support of nurses, especially during these uncertain times. We continue to work with state leaders and health officials to ensure an adequate supply of appropriate PPE, including face masks and N95 respirators. If businesses or members of the public have supplies to donate, please donate them to healthcare providers at www.suppliessaveliveswa.org.