Pharmacist creates free mask program to help bend COVID-19 curve in community

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ST. CLAIR, MO – COVID-19 cases are low in St. Clair, and Marty Hinterlong, a local pharmacist and owner of The Medicine Shop, wants to keep it that way. He has formed a protective mask program in hopes of keeping the people in their town safe from the virus.

“My job as a pharmacist is to make sure people don’t overwhelm the hospitals, and the only way I could figure out how to not overwhelm the hospitals is for us to all wear masks,” said Hinterlong. “Well, there were no masks. So, the simple solution was, ‘Why don’t we get a mask program together?'”

Hinterlong is now asking people in the community to donate materials so that volunteers can make more masks. Debbie Hinson, Carol Womack, Angie Oschenbine, April Eads, and Bobby Campell are some of the women donating time outside of their full-time jobs to make the masks from home.

You can drop off donated items like fabric, vacuum filters, and elastic bands at either The Medicine Shop or Health Mart to help their cause. So far, this team has distributed around 600 masks to individuals in the area. Their goal is to make 1,000 masks and have people wear them while they are out and about.

“Because we’re rural, and because there is only one hospital two towns over, if we get it and get it strong the hospital is going to be overwhelmed. That’s really why we all need to wear a mask when we’re out because 20 to 40 percent of us are carriers and we don’t even know it.”

Hinterlong says people who have been given a mask have been extremely grateful, but he is doing this to save lives – not for the credit.

“It’s got nothing to do with needing thanks or praise. It’s literally the only way we are going to slow down this curve and keep people out of the hospitals – all of us in this together helping each other through it.”  

Hinterlong feels wearing masks is truly the only solution to keeping each other safe and to bend the curve. He is encouraging everyone to wear a mask when they are out running errands.

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