SUMMIT, N.J. –Political gatherings have been cancelled, public events rescheduled and legislative meetings are moving online in response to the coronavirus outbreak. Although the virus is clearing legislators’ social and political calendars, it is not stopping them from finding other ways to serve the people.
One Assemblywoman, Nancy Munoz, is still answering the call of duty by employing her hidden seamstress skills.
“Our healthcare workers are facing a dire shortage of personal protective equipment. Those who can sew, are being asked to make masks,” explained Munoz, who spent more than three decades as a registered nurse. “I am by nature a caregiver and a public servant. Now that in-person public interactions have been put on pause, I had to find a way to use my time to help others. I’ve always enjoyed sewing, but now I can use my skill to protect those who are battling the coronavirus on the front lines, which is a great feeling.”
She started by sewing adult, as well as pediatric masks for the Atlantic Health System, which serves 4.9 million people across 11 counties in Northern New Jersey and operates six acute care hospitals.
Masks are crucial protective wear for those treating patients with COVID-19 and help prevent the transmission of the virus by capturing droplets in coughs and sneezes in those who are symptomatic. Munoz added that wearing a mask can also reduce people’s tendency to touch their faces throughout the day, which is how many people become infected.
“It is a small token of my appreciation for all that nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists, and other health care workers are doing round the clock to treat the growing number of patients with COVID-19,” said Munoz. “New Jersey’s health care system has never been put through such a test and we have never experienced this kind of shortage in supplies. It is critical that we do all we can to support those who are putting their health at risk to care for the people in our communities who are ill. I hope others will join me in using their talents to meet the increased demand for masks.”
It is not just the public stepping up, NJBIZ reported that two New Jersey manufacturers, Suuchi Inc., a supply chain platform, and Eclipse, which makes mattresses, are retooling operations to produce masks, gowns, gloves and other protective gear. Other businesses and professionals have also donated their protective equipment to health care workers.
“It has been said before, but it deserves repeating, we will get through this together,” concluded Munoz.
By Thursday afternoon, the number of New Jerseyans infected with the coronavirus had climbed to 6,876 with 81 deaths.