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People making medical shields, masks to protect frontline workers amid pandemic

COURTESY PHOTO: MULTNOMAH COUNTY LIBRARY - Makerspace Program Specialist Desiree Wolcott-Cushman, with 3D printer, gets ready to make a face shield at the Rockwood Library makerspace.

The Rockwood Library makerspace is usually filled with kids in classes making superhero costumes, perfecting their claymation techniques or crafting jewelry. But the COVID-19 emergency has turned it into a workshop fabricating face shields and cloth masks for frontline health care workers.

"We're really on board to help any way we can. It's part of the library's mission," said Ben Sanford, maker space supervisor at the Rockwood Library, part of the Multnomah County Library system.

"We're not going to sit idle when we have all this great equipment and these great people and we can help people," he said.

The Rockwood makerspace joins students, community groups and other volunteers nationwide who are crafting masks and face shields to provide both health care workers and everyday folks with protection against the novel corona virus.

"There are a lot of broad efforts happening in the world. This is not unique to us," Sanford said.

The Rockwood effort is staffed by volunteer mentors who normally work in the makerspace and are familiar with the equipment.

COURTESY PHOTO: MULTNOMAH COUNTY LIBRARY - The shields components are sent to another workshop for the transparent shield to be added.

The group can turn out about 100 cloth face masks per day on the space's 12 sewing machines and about 30 sets of face shield components on seven 3D printers. They've been working for about three weeks.

The Rockwood production is turned over to Portland Public Schools volunteers, who also are making personal protective gear, and they distribute the shields and masks. For the shields, Rockwood is printing the top and bottom sections, and the Portland Public Schools volunteers are adding the transparent shield.

The safety garb is going to hospitals and health care workers across Multnomah County.

Said Sanford: "So much of our patron base really appreciates that the library is part of this effort."

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