Because of the coronavirus pandemic, many hospitals and communities are experiencing a shortage of personal protective equipment; so people are stepping up to help.
A teacher at St. Petersburg’s Admiral Farragut Academy is using the school’s 3D printer to create masks for hospital and emergency workers.
Shannon LoRusso teaches STEM to kindergarten through 7th-grade students.
“Right now I’m trying to make the filtration masks that the hospitals need. I know that they’re having trouble with enough supplies for masks for everybody since everybody’s buying them up.
“I follow a lot of teacher groups on Facebook, and somebody had posted it. I think Pitsco — the engineering company — also posted something about having these masks that people can print if they have a 3D printer.
“I knew we had one at school that was just going to be sitting there for the next month. So I went ahead, and ran out to the school, grabbed the printer, talked to my boss and said this would be a great idea.
“I also saw another group posted about the visors. They had an STL file for the visors. Those are actually a lot quicker to print, so I figured I could print those, too, then.”
She has printed some masks already, but they take a while.
“It takes about four-and-a-half hours at least to make the masks. They’re pretty cool looking you can go to the website makethemasks.com. They have pictures on there of what they look like.
“If you watch some of the videos it shows you how you can actually dip them into warm water or hot water for a second and mold it to your face so that it is even more efficient to blocking all the germs.”
The plastic masks have openings for filters.
“On the sides of the masks you’re putting in little straps to hold it to your face. In the center, you put N95 surgical masks. If you take one of those surgical masks and you cut it up you can put that into the center of it to help filter it. So you’re actually getting six masks out of one of these instead of just one.”
She’s also printing the opaque parts of protective face shields.
“The face shields the only part I am printing is the top part that goes around their head. Unfortunately, I can’t do the polythene mask part that goes over their face because our 3D printer, the clear filament isn’t clear enough for what hospitals would need to be able to see. So all I’m doing is making the visor part of it that the polythene shield goes on to.”
“They’re pretty cool. Everybody seems to be really excited about it. I’ve had several people offer to donate their 3D printer to me and to the school so we can keep printing more of them.”
LoRusso has some ideas of where to donate the masks.
“I have a cousin that works at a hospital down in Port Charlotte.
“Several of the teachers that work at the school have family members that work at hospitals. My plan was to print up a bunch and send them with those people. And then they could start distributing them to their friends and colleagues at work. As I get more and more people requesting I can just send them to whoever needs them.”
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According to the Florida Department of Health website, as of Tuesday morning, there were 14,504 positive coronavirus cases in the state. That’s up by more than 1,000 over Monday. 283 people have died in Florida.
Here’s the county-by-county breakdown of the number of people who have tested positive for coronavirus in the Tampa Bay area:
In Hillsborough, there are 597 (with 5 deaths), in Pinellas 380 (with 8 deaths). There are 162 in Manatee (with 5 deaths), 172 in Sarasota (with 7 deaths), 67 in Charlotte, (with 1 death), 120 in Pasco (with 2 deaths), 48 in Hernando (which registered its first death), 49 in Citrus (with 2 deaths) and 197 in Polk (with 5 deaths).
The zip code with the most positive coronavirus tests in Hillsborough County is 33647, which includes parts of Tampa, Lutz and University.
In Pinellas, it’s 33756, which includes parts of Belleair, Belleair Beach, Largo and Clearwater.
The CDC website says that as of Tuesday afternoon, about 374,000 people in the U.S. have tested positive for coronavirus. And there have been 12,064 deaths across the country. That’s an increase of more than 3,000 deaths since Monday.
According to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, nearly 20,000 people who tested positive for coronavirus in the U.S. have recovered.
Video posted on Twitter shows what a WPLG reporter says are hundreds of people packed into a long line in the South Florida city of Hialeah on Tuesday.
The city is handing out paper copies of unemployment forms. The residents are crowded together without proper social distancing, despite south Florida’s coronavirus outbreak. There’s a large demand for paper forms because the state was unprepared for the surge in unemployment and its website is overwhelmed. Also, many Floridians don’t have access to the Internet when libraries are closed.
The St Petersburg Police Department says an officer has tested positive for coronavirus.
The department does not believe he had any contact with any other officer for several weeks. This is the St. Pete Police Department’s second case of COVID-19. The first was a civilian employee who is still recovering. Twelve employees are self-quarantined at home due to illness or possible exposure. Ten of them have tested negative.
The Tampa Bay Times reports that in Hillsborough County, three sheriff’s deputies have been quarantined after performing life-saving measures on a man who later tested positive for COVID-19.