It all started with a couple of concerned doctors.
Two Duke General Internal Medicine faculty members, Dr. Eric Westman and Dr. Lawrence Greenblatt, put their heads together to protect those in the Triangle most at risk because of where they live or work, and came up with a plan to quickly mobilize large numbers of face masks.
"This tidal wave was coming and we were not doing enough to protect those who are most at-risk," said Greenblatt.
The two physicians are purchasing masks from businesses and individuals affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and are donating their time to organize and distribute them. The main two sources of masks are from The Original Mattress Factory and independent seamstresses who were sewing for The Carolina Ballet.
Duke Medical School Students, Durham City Government, and Durham County have all joined in collaboration on this effort to help identify the highest risk individuals and help disseminate the masks to them. They have already successfully handed-out over 10,000 masks!
"I think the research, although it is not as rigorous as we'd like it to be," Greenblatt explains, "it's pretty clear that when people broadly wear masks when out in public you see a steep decline in the transmission of the virus."
Dr. Greenblatt recommends anyone who is out in public to wear a mask. He also encourages those who don't have a mask to make their own by using an old t-shirt or bandana. Learn more about making your own face mask on the Covering The Triangle website.
"The main benefit of mask-wearing is reducing spread from asymptomatic carriers to others."
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04/16/2020 - Durham doctors provide masks (WRAL)
04/14/2020 - Carolina Ballet members sew, donate thousands of masks for those at-risk for COVID-19 in Triangle (ABC 11 News)