Filling the gap: Grassroots mask making in California during the Coronavirus pandemic




public health, volunteers, PPE, COVID- 19, social networking, face mask


In early months of 2020, California experienced a mask-making revolution during the Coronavirus pandemic. Media reports and personal pleas from the medical community regarding personal protective equipment shortages and rationing activated a female-led, voluntary response to protect frontline medical and essential workers, loved ones, and vulnerable populations. Mask makers impressed themselves into action, operating independent of the formal channels for emergency response to fill the gap in communities across the state using social media and crowdsourcing to match offers of assistance with needs.

Makers provided protection to thousands of Californians using locally organized Facebook groups to share patterns, collaborate, problem solve, coordinate mask requests and distribution, and build com-munity when the supply chain fell short. While many legitimate obstacles prevent the formal response com-munity from coordinating with emergent volunteers, recognizing how efficient and effective were they during COVID-19 benefits the whole community approach to emergency management.

Author Biography

Holly Cuthbertson, MS, CEM

Emergency Planning and Research, Roseville, California


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