March 20, 2020

Willie Geist was steamed. He said he's "getting frantic texts from doctors saying we're down to our last mask, or we're already out of masks. It is not just for the places taking coronavirus patients. It is for other hospitals who are being asked to give some of their masks to these critical centers, places like cancer hospitals here in New York City that are out of masks or have a week's supply left. They have to get out and move quickly.

"A group of hospitals in Indiana is getting ahead of the mask shortage by asking the public to sew masks for the hospital. The Deaconess Health System released this video, showing the public how to sew a face mask, along with a .pdf of the pattern to follow. A spokesperson for the hospital group says the instructions meet CDC protocols, and that the homemade masks will be sterilized.

REPORTER: How long does it take to do one?
VOLUNTEER: It takes about 15 to 20 minutes. Obviously, when you first start out, it is probably closer to 20 minutes, As you make several, it'll go faster.

"Gene Robinson, I can't believe what I'm watching. It is a hospital in Evansville, Indiana, doing what it has to do to get through this. Pleading with the general public. Please, at home, sew us masks. If you read through the instructions, they say, give us a call. We'll meet you in the parking lot of a facility. Deliver the masks, and we'll sterilize them. In this country, that in 1940 and 1941, turned automobile factories into airplane factories almost overnight, where are the masks? Where are the supplies? Hospitals are dying out here," Geist said.

Gene Robinson called it unbelievable.

"Yesterday, the CDC recommended that doctors, you know, who are working on coronavirus patients, if necessary, use a bandana or a scarf. Which was, I thought, the most amazing thing I had heard, most shocking thing I had heard, until you played that piece about the homemade masks. It is unbelievable," he said.

"For the president of the United States to stand there and say, 'we are not a shipping clerk,' to absolve himself of responsibility, when the federal government has a unique ability to commandeer, order the production of and commandeer those masks and get them to where they need to go. It's just incredible. You know, I mean, the phrase 'failure of leadership,' I think, is one we're -- we've used the past few days. We're going to use it a lot more. While we're describing this situation, it has real-world effect on patients, on medical care providers. It is shocking."

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