Facemasks are being seen more and more in Hay River as people try to protect themselves and others from the coronavirus.

And to meet that growing demand, a number of people in Hay River have begun making the facemasks.

Pat Burnstad is among the people in Hay River making facemasks as protection against the coronavirus.
April 16, 2020
Hay River
Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

One of them is Pat Burnstad, who expects to see even more people wearing facemasks in town.

“There’s going to be more because people are asking for them already,” she said.

Burnstad has been making the masks along with several other ladies in a quilting group.

“We’ve been dabbling at it,” she said.

One of the challenges they have faced is finding elastic for the masks because of high demand across Canada.

“Right now, elastic is at the same point as toilet paper,” Burnstad said in mid-April. “You can’t find it anyplace.”

At that time, she was waiting for an order of elastic to arrive from a supplier in British Columbia.

Instead of elastic, some people have been using ribbons for the facemasks.

Burnstad said the demand for facemasks in Hay River started in early April.

“We’ve got about five in our group that are making masks,” she said, adding that a lot of people are also making their own.

Burnstad began by giving away facemasks, but started to sell them on April 20 and donates the money to the Hay River Regional Health Centre to help buy personal protective equipment or whatever it needs.

As of April 22, she had sold about 15 masks at $5 each.

She makes the facemasks out of 100 per cent cotton.

“That’s one of the things you need to do because it doesn’t breathe as well as other cottons and polyester,” she noted. “Polyester is a no-no. So polyester cotton you don’t use. It’s pretty well 100 per cent cotton that you use, and then elastics and ribbons and whatever you can find.”

Burnstad cautioned that, even if people wear facemasks, they still have to observe social distancing and wash their hands often.

She would like to see everyone in town wearing a facemask.

“I think there is a demand, because people all of a sudden they’re starting to see people wearing them and thinking, ‘Hey, maybe I should be,'” she said.

Burnstad has no goal on how many masks she would like to sell.

“We don’t care,” she said. “Whatever people need, we’ll make.”

Rita Kovatch also began making the facemasks about a month ago with friends in a quilting group.

She noted that she’s using batik fabrics.

“It’s a special kind of fabric that’s really tightly woven,” she explained. “And so therefore it’s more effective because it’s a higher thread count. So I pulled some of that and I gave that to three of my friends and they were also making masks.”

Kovatch sells her facemasks at Superior Sound.

“We are selling them at the store and I will be donating some of the money to the Baptist Church because that church needs new windows,” she said.

Kovatch noted there has been a high demand for the facemasks in the past several weeks.

She has made at least a couple hundred of the facemasks herself.

“I quit counting at 200,” she said. “So I don’t know how many I made, but 200 for sure.”

Paul Bickford

Paul Bickford is the reporter for Hay River Hub.

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  1. …are all these homemade masks,medically approved… Every time a clothes are washed,pieces of lint falls apart in the drying process… Medical approved facemasks have filters, non medical approved facemasks is a risk…