Hillsborough County is accepting donations of homemade masks to help residents prepare for an order expected Thursday requiring all residents to wear a face covering when out in public.
Residents and visitors had already been donating personal protective equipment in short supply like N95 masks and gowns to protect health care workers from contracting COVID-19 while they are on the frontlines of the battle.
But in an effort to ensure those supplies are available for frontline workers, Hillsborough County is encouraging those who are able to donate homemade masks for public use.
Supplies can be dropped off at the former Sears Automotive shop at WestShore Plaza in Tampa. Volunteers are at the site from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday-Friday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises the use of face coverings to slow the spread of the virus, in addition to maintaining six-foot social distancing. Simple cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost. Hillsborough County’s Official YouTube Channel has a video about how to make a simple cloth face mask.
Officials are still requesting medical schools, dental clinics, elective surgery centers, private vendors, residents, and others to donate medical grade impervious gowns, face shields, surgical masks, N95 masks, Tyvek suits, exam gloves and homemade masks for non-clinical staff and patients.
Other than for non-medical use, supplies must be unused. The county is in need of all sizes.
The Hillsborough County Emergency Policy Group met Monday and discussed a mandatory face covering order.
They decided to wait until Thursday to vote on the order and are using the week to educate residents about the expected requirement. While it’s anticipated the order will be approved, it is still subject to a vote by the eight-member group.
The county also put into place a curfew from 9 p.m. until 5 a.m.