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Letters from the Homefront: Making Masks

The following “Letters from the Homefront” account is part of our new initiative, Collecting in Quarantine. Inspired by the poignant letters in the Maryland Historical Society collection documenting past adversities from the Spanish flu of 1918, to the Annapolis yellow fever epidemics of 1793 and 1800, MdHS is calling on Marylanders to send their personal stories of how the pandemic is impacting their lives.

Masks made by Emily McCort
Photo courtesy of Emily

April 1, 2020 – On this day, Emily from Riverdale writes:

Like many others, the coronavirus has had a huge impact on my life. I work in the arts industry and theatres across the country have closed meaning that myself and many, many others are currently out of work until things begin to open again. Even though I know this is temporary and that eventually things will return to normal, the uncertainty of every day, and sometimes, every week can be really hard. However, I’ve always tried to be a pretty optimistic and upbeat person, so I’m trying to focus on the good amongst all the bad.

Before everything closed, I was typically working for the costume departments of theatres in Maryland and DC. To keep busy, I’ve been sewing medical masks from home. Recently there was a huge shortage of medical masks across the country because of coronavirus. One of the theatres I work for, in addition to many others across the country, have been teaming up with hospitals to volunteer to make masks since we have the skills and supplies. I like being able to help people and it feels good to be able to help while doing something that I love. Most of my masks will be sent to hospitals, but I‘ve made a few for my grandma in Florida with extras for her friends who might need them and some for my Maryland friends who have at-risk relatives. I’m planning to make as many as I can with the supplies I have. I know it’s a small thing compared to what medical professionals are doing, but I’m glad I can help them in this way.

Face masks made by Emily McCort
Photo courtesy of Emily

When I’m not making masks, I’ve been spending time with my roommates and having movie nights, (when watching movies now I get really confused for a moment when people just casually hold or shake hands. Don’t they know they need to keep 6ft apart?!), or virtual movie and game nights with the friends I don’t live with. I think technology has really made quarantine easier for a lot of people and has made what could be a very lonely and isolating time a little more bearable.

Thankfully it’s spring, so when it’s nice outside I try to take a moment to read or eat dinner on my porch or go for a walk just to get some fresh air and out of the house. Right now I’m just trying to take everything day by day!

Please note: The views, information, and opinions expressed and shared on the underbelly through the Collecting in Quarantine project do not necessarily represent those of the Maryland Historical Society. Our staff does not verify for accuracy the information contained within these submissions. We also do not edit the content beyond minor modifications for formatting or to remove personally identifying information, if applicable. Just like the historic letters in our collection, each letter presents the writer’s own perspective. The primary purpose of this series, with the permission of contributors, is to share and collect the experiences of Marylanders living through the COVID-19 crisis at this moment in time.

To learn more about the Collecting in Quarantine project and how to share a story of your own, click here.