With a medical quality face mask shortage, one Black nurse from Texas has designed a new mask that works better at protecting against COVID-19 than the standard N95 masks.
According to KSAT, Tommye Austin, the chief executive nurse at University Health System in San Antonio, came up with the ingenious idea of using AC filter material she purchased at Lowe’s to create 600 masks to help the health care workers in her city.
“In the event that we get a surge of COVID-19 patients in San Antonio, which is predicted to happen in May, we are making sure we have adequate and sufficient equipment for employees,” Austin recently told KSAT. “Once we learned that the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] had given us the ability to create masks, rather than using a bandanna or a handkerchief, we decided to look at creating our own N95.”
Even better? While Austin stresses that the masks fit and resemble an N95 mask, recent research and testing done by the Southwest Research Institute say the nurse’s invention has better filtration than the original masks used in hospitals across the country.
“The mask has a filtration rate of 99.5 percent with one material and has a 97.8 percent filtration efficiency with another material we are using,” Austin said. “So if the N95 masks have a 95 percent filtration efficiency, that means it can eliminate at least 95 percent of the virus or bacteria trying to get through the mask.”
Here she is talking about her brilliant prototype:
In addition, Austin has her eye on a larger prize: being able to make 6500 more masks that have the power to be used twice if cleaned properly. Remember, unlike the cloth masks most of us are rocking, the traditional medical masks are advised to only be worn once and then discarded.
“We are also sharing our design with the other facilities in San Antonio and whoever needs the design,” Austin said, adding “Hearing the stories from the nurses in New York and other hot spots, it was just heartbreaking. As a nurse, we are to be advocates for people, so my primary goal was not to make money off this mask or anything. The main purpose of this mask was to keep people safe.”
We love to see it!
***Editor’s Note: University Health System has been gracious to share their design. However, in a press release, they state: [The mask] should only be used for non-commercial purposes, and we cannot guarantee that others using this design will have a mask as effective as the one created by Austin. Here’s how she sourced special materials, developed her design and verified her mask’s effectiveness. Learn more here.