SUDBURY -- A city-wide call-out is being made in Sudbury for cloth masks in an effort to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The Masks for All Greater Sudbury initiative follows a sewing campaign that started in Toronto that is encouraging people to sew one thousand masks a week.

"Cotton masks, we believe, will help reduce the spread of COVID in the community," said Dr. Jane Cox, a member of Masks for All Greater Sudbury. 

A Facebook group for the initiative was created on Friday and quickly grew to 100 members. It allows people to connect, share materials and make donations if possible. 

"We know that these material face masks, sneeze catchers, are not 100% effective. However, we have been told by some authorities that these can help. They are reducing the spread of this very infectious disease," said Cox. 

Officials say these cotton masks are not for health care workers, but instead for the general public giving people another physical barrier when they have to go out in public.

Richard Cole, an administrator on the group’s Facebook page, says this is a good start but everyone needs to be wearing a mask to help reduce the spread of the virus. 

"The concept in my eyes, covering your face isn't to protect you from getting the virus... it's to protect you from spraying it out [to others],” Cole said. “People don't just spread this disease when they're sneezing or coughing."

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now even recommending the use of bandanas or scarves as a last resort.

Lilly Noble, an organizer for Masks for All Greater Sudbury, says the group is in talks with Health Sciences North (HSN) about donating masks for patients who come into the emergency department. 

The hope is that enough masks are made and donated throughout the city to make it possible for everyone in need to have access. 

"Things are starting to roll and hopefully we can get masks to people who need them and can wear them outside when they're doing their essential outside activities like grocery shopping," said Noble. 

Officials say that although cotton masks do provide an extra physical barrier, all recommended precautions, including physical distancing and limiting the number of errands in a week, should still be used.

"These masks are not a substitute, they are to be in conjunction with washing your hands thoroughly and frequently," said Cox. "They're meant when you go out in the community to [still] stay six feet apart from another person. They're meant to be an adjunct, a helpful other tool." 

The masks also need to be used properly in order to be effective. 

“They should be washed after one use and hands should be washed when they take them off,” Noble said. “So they have to be treated properly and then they can provide that extra barrier." 

Right now, with non-essential stores closed, the group is looking for donations, especially quarter-inch elastic so that they can keep sewing.

"Not only am I trying to keep me safe," said Cole. "But I'm trying to keep everyone else safe too."

Officials say the inside of the mask should be a different colour material so that users know how to put it on properly. They add that used masks should be stored in a bag until they are able to be cleaned. 

As of Monday April 6, sewn mask donations can be dropped off in special bins at the following locations:

  • Chris' Your Independent
  • Neil's Your Independent
  • Chartrand's Your Independent
  • Battistelli's Your Independent
  • Shopper's Drug Mart Plaza 69
  • Church of the Ascension - New Sudbury

They can also be mailed to Masks For All, P.O. Box 40037, Long Lake Road

People who want to join the initiative can get more information on the Facebook page or email