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Ironton woman produces more than 1,000 masks

Sherri Kincaid normally operates Grove Nursery in Coal Grove, but she is sitting out this year while taking chemo shots.

“I’m deemed an essential business,” she said of closures during the coronavirus outbreak, but said she chose not to open because the medications she takes lower her immune system and puts her at high risk of getting the virus.

In the meantime, she has been hard at work sewing, producing more than 1,000 cotton face masks for hospitals and individuals.

“I started on March 22,” she said, stating she saw an article on Facebook about the needs hospitals in other states faced.

“And, if they need them, our area does, too,” she said.

She has made so many masks, she said she can not estimate just how many.

“I stopped counting,” she said, noting that she was sewing one as she did the interview by phone on Monday.

The state of Ohio issued guidelines last week, advising citizens to wear masks in public settings where social distancing is difficult.

Kincaid, an Ironton resident, notes that her masks are more effective than the ones commonly available, using three layers of fabric and an embroidery interfacing filter.

She said she produces about 70-80 a day and, in one two-day stretch, she made more than 270.

A shipment of her masks were sent to Emory University in Georgia. She has also delivered to King’s Daughters Medical Center in Ashland and her masks have gone to hospitals as far away as Oregon, Florida and Texas.

She has been giving them away to those in need and also selling them for $4.50, to cover costs.

She has also customized them, making a batch for workers at Ironton CVS, featuring the company’s logo.

Kincaid said she went out and purchased material for the masks and has also had a lot donated. She said her masks are washable and reusable.

She also gives advice to those wearing cotton masks on how to clean them.

She said the best way is to use alcohol, then put them in a paper bag, with the top wrapped down overnight.

Kincaid said she is always in need of more material, from thread to 100 percent cotton fabric and those who would like to contribute can contact her on her Facebook page, where she also has videos on mask making.

She said she hopes her effort will help as many as possible to get through the outbreak. She said she is not out to make money and is trying to help curb the spread of the disease.

“It’s tough,” she said. “If I could put a mask on every person in the Tri-State, I would.”