SAN ANTONIO — A Texas nurse designed a homemade mask that is as effective as the N95.
Tommye Austin, chief nurse at University Health System, started making the masks after the Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued its recommendation that health care workers should cover their faces with bandannas or scarves around patients if N95 masks were not available.
“I just want my staff to be safe and I want anyone who is taking care of these patients to be safe,” Austin said in a statement. “Our nurses were up in arms. And I was alarmed as well.”
N95 masks and other personal protective equipment have been difficult for health care workers to get as hospitals became overwhelmed because of the coronavirus.
Instead of getting angry, Austin got to work. She grabbed a pair of scissors, a small stack of fabric and started experimenting with materials.
Using an air conditioning filter from a nearby hardware store and some other material at the hospital she developed the TM2020 mask. She sent it to the Southwest Research Institute for testing and found that it blocked 99.5% of particles. Another version of the mask screens 97.8% of particles.
N95 masks block about 95%.
“It doesn’t have what we call carbon dioxide buildup, which could make you dizzy or (give you) a headache,” Austin told KSAT. “It is comfortable, and you can wear it for long periods of time.”
Austin plans to produce about 6,500 masks, KSAT reported.
There are 21,769 confirmed cases and 572 deaths from the coronavirus in Texas, according to the New York Times.