British Columbia

Mask campaign can't keep up with demand in B.C. Interior city

Nearly half of Rossland, B.C. has received a free, non-medical mask thanks to a campaign spearheaded by the city's mayor.

Masks4All Rossland has donated non-medical masks to nearly 50% of residents

Masks4All Rossland leaders (from left) Fiona Martin, Kimberley Pegg and Mayor Kathy Moore model their group's non-medical mask designs. (Submitted by Kimberley Pegg)

When the COVID-19 pandemic began, a small city in B.C.'s Interior mobilized to make non-medical masks for everyone in town. 

Three months in, more than 1,800 masks have been distributed in Rossland, B.C., and neighbouring communities through a campaign called Masks4All Rossland.

Rossland's population is just over 3,700. 

Mayor Kathy Moore says she often sees residents out and about sporting non-medical masks.

"There's been such a change in attitude with masks," she told CBC's Daybreak South host Chris Walker. 

"When we first started this, which was kind of the end of March ... it wasn't mainstream at the time. But since then, we've had our provincial health officer say that masks are good."

Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry has said she herself wears a non-medical mask while out in public, and encourages others to do the same.

Dr. Sam Segal, the medical lead for the project, said wearing a mask does not replace physical distancing and handwashing, but does add another layer for preventing the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.   

"Your mask catches the droplets that you produce when you are speaking, coughing or sneezing," she said in a media release.

"You can be a carrier of the virus and not know it. Your mask protects me and my mask protects you." 

Moore, who is also the coordinator of Masks4All, said whenever she visits the local supermarket and drugstore, both of which are distributing the masks, they've always run out. 

"The demand is increasing and our seamstresses are doing their best to keep up with the demand," she said.

About 35 volunteers are sewing for the cause, and businesses and individuals have made financial contributions to pay for supplies. 

"A lot of people may not wear them on the street but it's sort of become the new fashion accessory you kind of have in your bag, your pocket, and pull it out when you need it," Moore said.

With files from Daybreak South

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