By: Grace Coughlan, Assistant Arts & Life Editor
The United States as a whole has faced a significant increase in the number of cases of COVID-19. According to The New York Times, New York state has the highest number of coronavirus cases, especially in the New York City Area. In New York City alone, there have been 604,577 cases of COVID-19 as of April 13.
Fashion designers have stepped up to help the first responders in NYC. Christian Siriano is a fashion designer who first gained attention after winning season four of the series “Project Runway.” Originally from Annapolis, Maryland, Siriano attended the Baltimore School of Arts as well as American InterContinental University in London. After graduating, Siriano moved to New York City, where he has participated in New York Fashion Week since 2008.
On March 20, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo pleaded for help because of the shortages of protective gear for hospital workers. Sirano tweetedto Cuomo, stating that his sewing team is able to create masks for hospital workers from their homes.
In an interview with Good Morning America, Siriano spoke about how he felt that it was the right thing to do, and on how it is a simple way to help out healthcare professionals, therefore helping the community. He emphasized how important it is for him and his team to follow specific guidelines regarding the materials that they use to make the masks. All of the fabric must be tested in order to make sure that they are protective.
“I think the masks that we are making are actually an upgrade from what they even have,” Sirano said. “It’s washable, bleachable; that was really important that they could re-wear it.”
The masks that Siriano and his team are making are being worn by health professionals at New York Presbyterian.
Other fashion designers have also answered the call to help, however, according to the CDC, the effectiveness of homemade masks is unknown. Nonetheless they still serve as a crisis response option. Neiman Marcus, for example, in partnering with JOANN, has emphasized that these masks are nonsurgical.
The fact that designers are coming together to help our country is inspiring and shows how much the fashion community is willing to extend their time and material for the greater good. I know that their work has inspired other people around the country to bust out their own sewing machines and contribute as well. I think that it’s really important that we try to help as many people as we can with what we have, while also being safe.
I know that it can be difficult to make masks because it’s hard to determine what fabrics or materials will be effective, but homemade masks or food donations are ways that as a community we can help people who are suffering from the effects of this pandemic.