Members of McCarter Theatre Center’s Costume Shop used their skills to create washable masks for healthcare professionals.

For McCarter Theater Center Costume Shop first hand Sarah Romagnoli, the fight against COVID-19 is personal.

Her sister, Dr. Anne V. Lee, had recently taken a contract working for the United States military in Louisville, Kentucky.

“She was among the first to say that clinics were going to run out of masks so I video-conferenced with her about what she thought the ideal mask would be,” Romagnoli said.

Romagnoli started developing the pattern for building masks around March 17. Lee wanted extra-large washable masks to fit over her medical mask and to wear to and from work. The pair also decided that a pocket would be useful to be able to insert used paper filters.

“She and others on staff love them and grateful to McCarter for giving me the time to make masks for the medical community,” Romagnoli said.

Starting this week, she will be building the masks from Halyard H600 Sterilization Wrap.

Working from home has taken on new meaning for the 10 members of McCarter Theater Center’s Costume Shop. After the cancelation of the remainder of the season, McCarter artists find themselves with an abundance of time, which is now being used to create emergency Personal Protection Equipment for health care workers and first responders.

Here in Mercer County, McCarter staff connected with the Mercer Mask Project, a collection of local sewers making masks for healthcare professionals, first responders, and essential employees in the community.

In mid-March, the Centers for Disease Control stated that “in settings where facemasks are not available, health care professionals might use homemade masks for care of patients with COVID-19 as a last resort.”

“The Mercer Mask Project came together in order to fight against potential shortfalls in personal protection equipment,” says project co-founder Cindy Rosen of Robbinsville. “The masks made by Mercer Mask Project are made for people who fall through the cracks and may not have access to PPE, like first responders, home health care, and the homeless, and may potentially be used to extend the life of N95 masks. I thank everyone involved at McCarter Theatre Center for their help in this fight.”

Mercer Mask Project has delivered more than 500 masks to a variety of organizations in need including pharmacies, assisted living facilities, homeless shelters, rescue squads, first responders, and more.