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Kalamazoo County asking people who sew to make face masks for health care providers

Completed masks can be donated at the Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services Department Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Credit: Kalamazoo County
Phoebe Putney Health Systems shows how to make a homemade face mask.

KALAMAZOO COUNTY, Mich. — Kalamazoo County is asking its community members who can sew to make and donate face masks to health care providers as the county prepares for cases of the coronavirus, and expects there to be a shortage of personal protective equipment. 

“This is a way that we can prepare now locally and have our community help us take action to protect our most vulnerable residents and our front line workers," said Tracie Moored, County Administrator. 

As of Sunday, March 22, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Kalamazoo County. However, Calhoun and Berrien Counties announced their first cases on Saturday. In southwest Michigan, there are five cases: One in Allegan County, one in Barry, one in Calhoun and two in Berrien.  

There are 787 confirmed cases of the virus in Michigan and eight deaths. 

RELATED: Live updates: 787 total coronavirus cases in Michigan; 8th death reported

RELATED: More West Michigan counties reporting coronavirus cases; Kent County total reaches 21

Homemade masks are not considered personal protective equipment, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, they may be used as a "last resort," according to the health protection agency. 

The CDC recommends using homemade masks in combination with a face shield that covers the entire front and sides of the face. 

Here is a step-by-step guide from Phoebe Putney Health Systems, a nonprofit health system, on how to make them. 

Completed masks can be donated at the Kalamazoo County Health & Community Services Department Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

Bronson Hospital is also hosting its own donation drive and is asking community members to drop off new and unused personal protective equipment for its health care providers such as gloves, masks and handmade supplies at the following locations: 

  • Kalamazoo: Bronson FastCare®, 6220 W. Main St.
  • Portage: Bronson Diagnostics at Woodbridge, 2640 W. Centre St.
  • Battle Creek: Bronson Urology Specialists, 4441 Capital Ave. Southwest
  • Paw Paw: Bronson LakeView Outpatient Center, 451 Health Parkway
  • South Haven: Bronson Family Medicine, 930 Blue Star Highway

The donations are accepted Monday through Friday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. 


Patients with confirmed infection have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

The best prevention for viruses, such as influenza, the common cold or COVID-19 is to:

  • If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19, call your health care provider. If you do not have a health care provider, call the nearest hospital.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If not available, use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or upper sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • If you are sick, stay home, and avoid contact with others.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others when in a public setting.

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