Utahns are leading a worldwide effort to ensure that caregivers who are treating COVID-19 patients have the protection they need to be as safe as possible.

Intermountain Healthcare, University of Utah Health, Latter-day Saint Charities, and several Utah nonprofits, are leading an effort known as ProjectProtect to enlist thousands of sewing volunteers across the state to manufacture personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline caregivers, including more than five million medical-grade masks.

The project is shaping up to be the largest Utah-based volunteer effort since the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.

The goal of ProjectProtect is to engage 10,000 volunteer sewers each week to produce more than five million medical-grade face masks that will be distributed to frontline health workers at the two Salt Lake City-based health systems.

ProjectProtect is also helping to produce reusable isolation gowns and more than 50,000 face shields, which are already being deployed to frontline caregivers for use while caring for patients.

Latter-day Saint Charities has worked with healthcare experts to create educational content and instructions for sewing the masks, while the Relief Society organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has tapped into its network of thousands of volunteers from around the world.

ProjectProtect will enlist an estimated total of more than 50,000 volunteers to sew clinical face masks in their homes—and more volunteers are invited to take part.

Details about what volunteers will be asked to do:

  • They need the ability to follow detailed instructions and use a sewing machine.
  • They need a sewing machine, thread, scissors, and pins. Material and instructions will be provided.
  • Each volunteer will be asked to make 100 masks. Depending on the sewer’s level of experience, each mask will take five to 10 minutes to sew.
  • Volunteers should expect to spend 10 to 15 hours sewing, plus they’ll need to pick up the materials and drop off the finished masks.

Read more about ProjectProtect here.