Stockbridge first lady pitches in COVID-19 fight with face masks

In an effort to help battle the spread of coronavirus, the wife of Stockbridge Mayor Anthony Ford has made homemade face masks for leaders of the Henry County city.

Alcelia Ford said she decided to make the protective gear after her husband said he had called a special meeting earlier this week to discuss new city measures to combat the disease.

“I’m kind of anal about hygiene and cleaning and stuff like that,” she said, which spurred her to tell the mayor, “If you’re going to have a meeting, I’m going to make masks.”

Homemade face masks have become a hot commodity as the nation faces COVID-19, which as of early Thursday has infected more than 69,000 people nationally and killed more than 1,000.

Volunteers around the state are making masks, though they are not the N95 surgical variety used by hospitals. Alcelia Ford's masks are made of cotton and are machine washable so they can be used more than once.

“It was to remind [us] to be safe and to be cautious,” Mayor Ford said of the masks.

Alcelia Ford, who used an online pattern for the face masks, said it took about four hours to complete the 10 or so she created, including washing the fabric, cutting out the pattern, sewing it together and ironing the finished product. She had originally bought the fabric to make baby bonnets in a business venture.

The phone hasn’t stopped ringing since word of her endeavor got out, with people seeking masks for ill residents or the staffs of small businesses.

“They say, ‘If you have time, can you make one for my family member?’” she said, adding that she does not intend to make this a business.

Mayor Ford said his wife is keeping the quantity small as she does not have the materials to make a hospital-grade product. Her goal is to have an impact on a smaller scale.

“She will do some more as gifts for people and as a gesture of goodwill,” Mayor Ford said.