PORTLAND, Ore. — As Oregon and Washington continue to reopen during the pandemic, the need for masks is just as important as it was months ago.
With cases on the rise again in Oregon, Dr. Rick Rosenfield is reminding his patients not to ease up on preventative measures such as hand washing, social distancing, and wearing a mask in public.
“People get tired of the same news every day, but the virus doesn’t particularly care how many days it maintains the headline,” Rosenfield said.
Rosenfield is the executive medical director at the Pearl Women’s Clinic in Portland. He knows that a little bit of fabric can make a big difference during a pandemic.
“The reason why you’re wearing a mask in public is because it’s the right thing to do, not for you but for everybody else that’s coming into contact with you,” he said.
To continue to fight the spread, the Pearl Women’s Clinic teamed up with Portland activewear company DHVANI to provide his staff and each patient that comes into the clinic with a free, reusable cotton mask. In the early months of the pandemic, DHVANI started a bold campaign: provide every American with a free mask.
Now, as the country reopens, he is concerned about a surge in COVID-19 cases.
“We’re seeing more people getting together in big groups and there’s no doubt that we’re also going to see an increase in COVID-19 infection rates,” Rosenfield said. “So, I think it’s more important now than ever for people to recognize what they can do to minimize the spread of this really problematic virus.”
Rosenfield has taken that effort to provide masks and slow the spread of COVID-19 to the next level. His clinic donated to DHVANI’s non-profit, DHVANIcares, so that more Americans have access to these free masks.
Now, he is challenging other businesses that can, to do the same.
“The best thing we can possibly do, aside from staying at home, is reducing the airborne particles that happen when people are talking to each other and coughing and sneezing and things like that,” Rosenfield said. “So, this is a perfect opportunity for us to step up and join with another local business to do something positive.”
Avi Brown in the co-founder and CEO of DHVANI. He points to research that suggests masks could significantly reduce the spread of COVID-19, but up to 90 percent.
“Normally we make environmentally sustainable activewear, but we’re really, really focused right now on making these beautiful cotton masks. It’s extremely high-quality. It’s reusable. It’s washable. It’s 100 percent cotton,” Brown said.
Since April, DHVANI has received around 1 million requests for masks. They’ve already provided thousands to health care workers, essential workers, senior care facilities and more.
“The outpouring of support has been staggering, honestly,” Brown said.
DHVANI is prioritizing the distribution of their cotton masks with a focus on communities most at risk for severe illness from COVID-19: seniors, minority communities, and the homeless.
Most recently, DHVANI provided all the residents and staff and Fieldstone Senior Living in Portland with free masks.
The company is also reaching out to marginalized communities, specifically the black community which is disproportionately impacted by the virus.
“We’re hearing from not only individuals, but also organizations,” Brown said, “And so we’re really focused on prioritizing the most marginalized and the most at risk.”
Both Brown and Dr. Rosenfiled say wearing a mask is a simple step we can all take to protect our health and the health of our community.
“We’re challenging everybody that has significant means to pay it forward,” Brown said. “Not everybody can afford a mask. Not everybody as the resources to make a mask, but we’re giving a mask to every single person who needs one.”
“I would really like to challenge other businesses to do the same thing that we’ve,” Dr. Rosenfield said. “There’s no doubt that even a reusable cloth mask, like this really cool mask from DHVANI, this can do a lot to protect folks around you from inhaling products that are coming out of your mouth when you speak, or cough, or sneeze.”