IRMO, S.C. — There is a nation-wide critical shortage of medical supplies as cases of COVID-19 continue to plague the U.S.

Testing swabs, surgical gowns, hand sanitizer and protective masks are all a part of the list of scarce, vital items needed to fight this virus.

Many who are able are doing what they can to step up and help with this shortage. 

Jenni Newbanks is an Irmo paralegal who happens to sew as a hobby. She is using that talent to do what she can to help the community during this COVID-19 pandemic.

Jenni told News19, “I am making masks that I guess are the next best thing to the actual medical grade masks as a back up for our health care workers when they run out of masks or to those that are high risk groups- the grocery store workers that come in contact with people every day.”

Jenni says she hopes this will prevent medical grade masks from not being sold to hospitals when they are critically needed.

“I think I saw something about somebody in another state doing something like this and I was like, ‘you know what- I sew.’ So that’s something I can do to give back," Jenni says, "What better can you do when you’re all shut up in your house and everything than to get creative and just try to help your community.”

Other people like fashion designer Christian Siriano are stepping up to help as well. He announced via Twitter that his company would be making versions of surgical masks to help as many people as they can.

YouTube ‘Do it Yourself’ videos have also popped up in the last few weeks with instructions on how to sew your own mask at home.

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The Center for Disease Control listed on their website under 'Strategies for Optimizing the Supply of Facemasks' that as a last result health care personnel might use homemade masks though they are not considered personal protective equipment because their unknown ability to actually protect.

Jenni says though her masks may not go straight to medical professionals, they can help high risk community members right here in the Midlands,“Just to give an extra level of comfort during this scary time going on.”

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