As we work together to protect each other and our community, I am asking local businesses and residents to help provide cloth face coverings for essential city staff who cannot work from home.

The City would like to provide face coverings to workers in Streets, Parks, Water Utility and other public facing departments. Surgical masks and others known as N-95 respirators are in short supply and are being reserved for health care workers and other first responders. The City is working hard to acquire multiple types of PPE, including face coverings, but they are in short supply and often back-ordered.

I am asking all businesses with the capacity to produce cloth face coverings and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to consider manufacturing these products. First responders, healthcare professionals, and the general public is in great need of this equipment, and anything we can do locally to help manufacture these materials will benefit all of us. Additional information for business is available at the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership website ( You may also contact the City’s Office of Business Resources for more information at or 608-267-8737.

In addition, I am asking people who know how to sew to consider making and donating masks to the City. There are a number of suggested patterns for the face coverings, including those from the CDC ( and Unity Point Health ( Although craft stores are closed due to the Governor's "Safer at Home" order, you can order fabric online and have it shipped directly to your home.

We know Madisonians are looking for ways to help, and this is one. Donations of cloth face coverings will be gratefully accepted at Fire station #2 (421 Grand Canyon Drive) and #8 (3945 Lien Rd). The face coverings will be laundered before they are distributed to workers.

Current health guidelines recommend cloth face coverings for anyone when they are outside of the home. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has information under the “Should I wear a cloth face mask?” section to help you understand when to wear a face covering. If you choose to wear a cloth face covering, they can be made at home from common materials. The CDC has several sets of instructions on their website, including instructions that do not involve sewing: The CDC FAQ may also be helpful: Please also follow best practices around how to put on and take off a face covering, including:

  • Before putting on a face covering, clean hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Cover mouth and nose with face covering and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the face covering. Make sure you can breathe freely.
  • Avoid touching the face covering while using it; if you do, clean your hands immediately with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Do not slide face covering up or down on face, or wearing around your neck, as the inside of the face covering may become contaminated.
  • Replace the face covering with a new one as soon as it is damp.
  • To remove the face covering: remove it from behind (do not touch the front of face covering); discard immediately in a closed bin or launder; clean hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

These cloth coverings should not promote an inflated sense of protection. While they help to contain respiratory particles emitted from the person wearing the face covering, they do not protect the person wearing them from small viral particles in the air. They are not a substitute for handwashing, refraining from touching your face, or cleaning frequently used surfaces. And all of us, faces covered or not, are safer at home.

This content is free for use with credit to the City of Madison - Mayor's Office and a link back to the original post.