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Local business and doctor work with nonprofit to provide masks for doctors

Posted at 10:26 PM, Jul 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-16 11:33:16-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — A local dive shop is doing its part to help to keep doctors stay safe during the pandemic.

The Omaha-based business, Diventures, helped the nonprofit, MasksOnuse snorkeling masks as personal protective equipment.

Dr. Ann Edmunds with the Omaha Ear Nose and Throat Clinic calls the special snorkeling masks the gold standard for safety on the job.

"It gives you peace of mind where if I absolutely have to have something on [if] I have a patient that has COVID or I'm highly suspicious, and I'm going to do a procedure where I'm going to be directly in their face with nasal secretions or air way secretions (which seems to be the primary way that it's passed on) I know I have this, and I know I can use it over and over and over," Dr. Edmunds said.

Edmunds tells 3 News Now she has 5 of the masks in her office thanks to MasksOn, which started manufacturing snorkeling masks after connecting with Diventures and a local doctor.

"In 100 days they've made 21,000 masks that are currently being used in all 50 states," Diventures Owner Dean Hollis said. "They've figured that these masks have been used in over 1 million medical provider days."

Hollis says he and a friend in the medical field wanted to help during the national PPE shortage.

Dr. Edmunds says the masks provide added safety for front-line workers who have direct contact with a patient's face.

"We'll use a mask in the operating room for up to about 8 hours," Dr. Edmunds said. "Then we have to re-clean it or get UV light on it or something to sterilize it ... with this you're not going to have that problem because of the difference in material and you can clean it sterilize yourself."

She also stresses the importance of continuing to social distance and wear a mask.

"A part of the problem is a lot of people that have COVID are either pre-symptomatic (where we don't know they have it because they're not having symptoms) or they stay asymptomatic and have no symptoms the entire time," Dr. Edmunds said. "So how do you protect yourself from people like that when you don't even know they have it and there's no suspicion so a mask has been shown to be helpful in those cases and to decrease the number of cases daily."

The masks have been donated to area doctors and dentists. MasksOn is taking donations to continue providing the masks for free to health care workers all over the country.