MARQUETTE COUNTY, Mich. (WJMN) – Healthcare professionals are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. They need supplies such as masks and gloves to do their job. But supply is limited. In the U.P., Yoopers are coming together to help with some of that burden.

“The name is Masks for Marquette,” said Sally Steen, organizer of the effort. “It just started because I saw other nurses around the country that were making masks out of paper and office supplies and craft because they were out of masks and running out of masks in places where the infection has began to spread more than it has here. And I don’t want our healthcare workers to be in that position.”

The effort started last last week with a Mask for Marquette Facebook page. With about 1,000 members there are about 100 sewers and a GoFundMe page is also set up for people to help in that way.

“We’re in need of elastic which we can get and it’s still available. And then we have businesses in Marquette that are making us the aluminum nose pieces.”

Marquette business owner Beth Millner has been working with window companies to help gather the materials for this.

Steen has been in contact with both UP Health System Marquette and Bell to see this is something they could benefit from.

“A lot of people are concerned that we’re putting people at risk or that they don’t know the dangers of using what we’re making,” said Steen. “The infection control people are going to instruct them on how to use them properly so that they are safe. And they’ll either be using it over an existing mask to prolong the life of that mask or they will be using it with a filter.
while it is not meant to replicate the actual medical masks. I guess what people are saying is that it’s better than nothing.”

Sally says the biggest need right now is sewers. The following YouTube video is what the group wants sewers to follow:

There are four drop-off locations for the masks.

-Econo Foods in Marquette

-ACE Hardware in Harvey

-ACE Hardware in Ishpeming

-Sally Steen’s residence in Gwinn if you message her via Facebook.

Another effort underway is creating face shields using 3D printers for healthcare providers. Becky LaBrecque, a teacher at Marquette Area Public Schools and director of MAPS Makerspace utilizes the printers in her work and thought they would be useful during this time of need.

“As someone who runs a 3-D printing lab, I run five printers and because you get tied in a network… so a couple days ago we started getting emails for these causes,” said LaBrecque. “Can you fire up your printers and send to national databases and places where they’re collecting them and so I saw some of those emails. My printers weren’t at home. They were at school and I thought this cool that people are trying to help. I wanted to know what was local so I just started asking around and realized that we do have a need for this locally. A few of us makers started talking online and saying let’s try some of these models. So we started printing some, I think Saturday. There were a couple of decent ones out there that they were using and when I finally connected with local, the model that they wanted was one of the ones that we’re working on.”

LaBrecque says production is a slow process, but with efforts also from printers at NMU, different school districts across the U.P. and people who use them at home as a hobby, they’ll make as many as they can.

“I get about three of them made about every hour and forty minutes,” said LaBrecque. “If you have zero and you have nowhere to buy them, I think they’ll take three. I talked to a few nurses that would take anything they got right now.”

LaBrecque says they also looking at more productive ways to create these. If you don’t have a 3-D printer, she says they are in need of supplies to help make them.

People interested in helping out LaBrecque’s effort, Yooper Makers United can message her on Facebook or email her at rlabrecque@mapsnet.org.