Some Hawaii hospitals accept homemade masks as experts urge public to wear them

Updated: Mar. 30, 2020 at 5:56 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The coronavirus pandemic is prompting Hawaii’s health care system to change some of its old rules.

Some hospitals are now accepting donations of homemade masks as the CDC considers guidelines that would recommend everyone to wear them in public.

Health experts still say regulation protective equipment needs to be reserved for health care workers, but those do-it-yourself cloth masks could help everyday people.

Hawaii’s largest private employer, The Queen’s Health Systems, is asking for donations of personal protective equipment and says homemade masks are now OK.

Hawaii Pacific Health and Kaiser are also accepting homemade masks.

Jason Chang, president and chief operating officer of the Queen’s Health Systems, says front line health care workers will not wear homemade masks but other staff like yard service workers will.

“We are trying to preserve the N-95s and the surgical masks for the people that really need it most,” said Chang.

The CDC is now considering recommendations that the general public wear face coverings when outside. Health experts say even homemade masks can stop you from touching your face.

"The countries that are mandating masks or more used to wearing masks just as a general cultural acceptance are bending the curve faster than countries than those that are not so if I had to give you my opinion, wear a mask," he said.

Oahu intensive care unit physician Dr. Cecily Wang works for several Oahu hospitals. She’s not sick, but is in voluntary quarantine after traveling.

She created a social media video urging the governor and the public to do more to flatten the curve.

"There's still a lot we can do to keep more people from getting sick and dying," she said.

Wang says the health care mind set is changing and that individuals should treat themselves as if they had a virus and that means wearing a homemade mask in public.

“That’s a complete flip right,” said Wang.

“I don’t want to infect you so I will wear a mask and if everybody does, that’s going to help a lot,” she added.

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