Shoppers, some with protective masks and some without, exit the Walmart in DeKalb Thursday afternoon. After May 1 all shoppers will be required to wear masks as Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker announced in his daily press conference that people in Illinois over the age of 2 will be required to wear a face-covering or mask “when in a public place where they can’t maintain a six-foot social distance.”
Shoppers, some with protective masks and some without, exit the Walmart in DeKalb Thursday afternoon. After May 1 all shoppers will be required to wear masks as Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker announced in his daily press conference that people in Illinois over the age of 2 will be required to wear a face-covering or mask “when in a public place where they can’t maintain a six-foot social distance.”

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Per the order of Gov. JB Pritkzer, in a week all Illinoisans will be required to wear a face covering, whether cloth or otherwise, when out and about in public places as a continued effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Brandy Ganion-Titus is a retired nurse and wanted to do her part to help keep people safe during the COVID-19 crisis by sewing masks to sell for those who were unable to find them because of the short supply.

“My 12-year-old daughter Sydney helps me with cutting fabric and elastic,” she said. “I have been a hobby sewist since childhood and knew I would be able to whip out a few masks for family and friends. Since the word got around, I started taking orders. I am a returned nurse and felt this was a way I could still help.”

Masks have been a public staple for many on a voluntary basis for weeks now, although the protective accessories will soon be a requirement, and residents may be wondering where to find one for their family or how to make one.

Per the governor’s amended stay-at-home executive order, people in Illinois over the age of 2 will be required to wear a face covering or mask “when in a public place where they can’t maintain a 6-foot social distance.” Face coverings will be required in public indoor spaces, such as stores. This new requirement applies to all individuals over the age of two who are able to medically tolerate a face covering or a mask.

The local wave of homemade mask-sellers are already offering supplies and soliciting sales online and in local coronavirus Facebook groups.

Ganion-Titus of Sycamore is selling adult- and child-sized face masks made of cloth for
$5 a pop and button attachments that she calls “ear savers” for $1 a piece. They’re designed to attach the mask via the buttons instead of ears, which can prevent discomfort for those wearing masks for long periods of time.

Buyers can order them delivered or pick them up at her home. To order, call 937-407-7447.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cloth face coverings should “fit snugly” against the side of your face, be secured with ties or ear loops, include multiple layers of fabric for ample protection, allow for unrestricted breathing, and be able to be laundered without damaging the shape.

Masks should not be placed on young children under the age of 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated or unable to remove a mask of their own accord.

Cloth masks should be washed or cleaned regularly, depending on how frequently you wear them, and a washing machine should be sufficient to wash away any potential germs.

When wearing a mask, you should not tough the outside of your mask while wearing it, or your eyes, nose or mouth when removing it, and the CDC recommends washing your hands immediately after removing the mask.

Ganion-Titus said in her spare time, she’s also donating masks to health care workers and other essential folks on the front line. She began her endeavor in early April, she said, and to date has made about 200 masks using her own pattern.

“I have split my time between making ordered masks and making masks to donate to Chicago nurses, local grocery employees and other essential workers,” she said. “I’m just glad to be able to help, even in this small way.”

For others, like local business owners seeking to cushion their suffering revenue sales because of nonessential business closures, the mask mandate means finding creative ways to support each other and provide a much-needed product to the community.

Elizabeth Oparyk, owner of Lizzy’s Pink Boutique in downtown Sycamore, 303 W. State St., said she started selling masks to make ends meet and pay the bills at her storefront.

“We’re buying them from one of my vendors that is trusted down at Merchandise Mart in Chicago,” Oparyk said. “It’s a woman-owned business. It’s nice that we’re helping keep other women employed. That was important to me.”

At Lizzy’s, also 100% women-owned, cloth masks are cotton jersey-lined with two pieces of fabric and come in child and adult sizes for
$10 each. You can order online for delivery or for curbside pickup.

Oparyk said she’s also fulfilled larger orders for local business employees such as for Blumen Gardens and Lang Management.

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