Atlanta Opera to make masks for Grady hospital doctors and nurses

Leah Partridge as Musetta and Alan Higgs as Alcindoro appear in a scene from the carnival-like Latin Quarter in the 2015 production of “La Boheme” by the Atlanta Opera. The Atlanta company will present a revival of that production as part of the 2020-2021 season. CONTRIBUTED: JEFF ROFFMAN
Leah Partridge as Musetta and Alan Higgs as Alcindoro appear in a scene from the carnival-like Latin Quarter in the 2015 production of “La Boheme” by the Atlanta Opera. The Atlanta company will present a revival of that production as part of the 2020-2021 season. CONTRIBUTED: JEFF ROFFMAN

The Atlanta Opera is partnering with Grady Health System to make surgical-style face masks for doctors and nurses treating coronavirus patients.

The hospital delivered enough sheets to the opera’s costume department on Wednesday to make 72,000 masks, said Ashley Mirakian, spokesperson for the opera. Working from home, the six-member costume team will sew the cotton masks this week, but it’s unclear how fast they can make them or how they will be sterilized once they are made.

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“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.