Gundersen receiving hundreds of PPE donations; experts recommend cloth masks for public use

With experts now recommending masks for everyone, health leaders suggest cloth masks while saving N95 masks for medical workers

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – Health experts say it is recommended to wear a mask when we go out in public There are some things people should know to protect themselves and keep supplies available for healthcare workers.

Originally we were told masks weren’t necessary for those of us who do not have symptoms of COVID-19.

“I think there has been some confusion about masks,” said Jen Rombalski, director of the La Crosse County Health Department at Monday’s county health briefing.

However, when there is new information available, changes are made. Health experts now recommend masks should be used when people make essential trips to the grocery store or pharmacy.

“Those would be all appropriate times to wear the mask,” Rombalski said.

Rombalski said at Monday’s county briefing that people should use cloth masks that can even be made at home. It’s important to use fabric with a tight weave.

“If there are spaces between the weaving of that material, it is not the ideal type of material for you to be making a mask out of,” Rombalski said.

They still want people to avoid buying N95 makes that are needed for healthcare workers.

“We are specifically looking for an industrial or a medical-grade N95,” Mandy Nogle, Director of Development for the Gundersen Medical Foundation. “Most of those are coming with a respirator. Those are fitted specifically to the individual wearing them.”

Nogle said they can’t count the donations they have received.

“I have no idea. I can tell you we have had hundreds and hundreds of calls and e-mails from the community these last weeks,” she said.

She said the health system is prepared for a surge in cases, but they are bracing for all circumstances.

“We don’t want to be in a situation where we find ourselves running short,” Nogle said.

The sewing community has also donated cloth masks for patients who come through the door. It is possible to keep our own nose and mouth covered while ensuring our medical workers can do the same.

“When we rally together, when we work together, when we help each other, support each other, that’s when amazing things happen,” Nogle said. “That’s when miracles happen.”

The Gundersen Medical Foundation is also taking monetary donations too. People can call 608-775-6600 to help out. Or visit the Gundersen Medical Foundation’s website.