“This is a time of great need for the medical community and the community at large,” said opera CEO Tover Zvulun in a statement. “The question that we ask ourselves is no longer ‘How can we save a production?’ but ‘How can we save lives?’”
There is a national shortage of the N95 respiratory masks medical professionals need to protect themselves from becoming infected as they treat patients with COVID-19. Those masks filter out small particles and fit tightly around the face. But because of the shortage of those masks, many doctors and nurses are being forced to take drastic measures to sterilize and reuse the few they have. N95s are meant for single use.
The masks the opera will make are more loose-fitting, surgical masks that don’t provide as much particle protection as the N95s. However, the cotton masks will be designed to be worn over the N95s, in an attempt to make them last longer.