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Amish communities in Michigan sew scientifically designed face masks for Navajo Nation

COPE’s ongoing response to COVID-19 includes a mask-making mission by a group of researchers from Central Michigan University who call themselves the “My Mask Saves Lives Research Team.” Dr. Lana Ivanitskaya, faculty member at Central Michigan University’s School of Health Sciences reached out to COPE to share how their scientifically designed masks could help limit the spread of the corona virus among the Navajo Nation.

The current state of emergency on the Navajo Nation has brought the awareness of the entire country and the world to our area . Partnering with other groups such as the research team from Michigan creates a stronger stance for COPE to help Navajo communities combat COVID-19. As of May 18, Navajo Nation had the highest per-capita infection rate in the US. COVID-19 has undoubtedly caused many families to suffer during this pandemic.

Back in March, COPE initiated a COVID-19 response by providing emergency relief aid to Navajo communities that were heavily impacted by the virus. COPE continues to deliver food by the tons to communities in Chilchinbeto, Dennehotso, and Kayenta. Bulk PPE’s have been donated to IHS and to the Navajo Nation Department of Health, and to businesses such as nursing homes and grocery stores in the Gallup area. Ongoing direct aid initiatives to stop the spread of the corona virus by keeping our Navajo relatives safe is what COPE strives to accomplish.

Mask-Making Mission: Great Lakes Amish Help Navajo Nation

The Amish of the Great Lakes are following the My Mask Saves Lives Research Team’s guidance to make science-based, washable and reusable face coverings for the public. A group of Amish seamstresses have begun to produce hundreds of masks for the Navajo Nation, following the guidelines of producing tight-fitting face masks made of nonwoven materials and customizable ties to accommodate for long hair or to be an easier fit for the elderly.

COPE team members have already delivered hundreds of masks to Navajo community members, area nursing homes, gas stations, and grocery stores. Store employees that are a part of our Healthy Navajo Stores Initiative program all received the masks made by the Amish seamstresses. The masks are much needed throughout the Navajo Nation as New Mexico’s new public health order to wear face coverings while in public took effect Saturday, May 16th. It is important that while choosing which masks to wear, the most appropriate for safety is considered. The mask project’s functional designer is CMU alum, Armine Ghalachyan, a faculty member in apparel, merchandising, design and textiles at Washington State University. Lana Ivanitskaya who is Russian shared that “The virus does not care if one is Hispanic, or Amish, or that I am Russian, or they are American Indians. The virus will take us one by one if we don’t work together.

COPE will continue to collaborate with other organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide support to the Navajo Nation communities.


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