Dr. William Satterwhite, of Wake Forest Baptist Health, talks about ‘Mask the City’ initiative in Winston-Salem

Newsmakers

He’s another key figure in what is probably the Piedmont’s largest collaborative effort to fight the spread of COVID-19. “Mask the City” is Winston-Salem’s initiative to provide everyone in the city a specially-designed “Nightingale” mask (named after the legendary nurse Florence Nightingale).

Recently, I interviewed the CEO of the Renfro Corporation of Mt. Airy which will soon have the capacity to make a million of these masks a week. To watch that story, click here

In this segment, I speak with Dr. William Satterwhite, the chief wellness officer at Wake Forest Baptist Health. He led the team that designed the mask. Here’s some of our conversation edited for brevity.

*Neill*

“These Nightingale Masks sold out within a matter of minutes last week. I’m wondering what you think as the mask designer, what does that say about the people of this community and they’re concern about COVID-19?”

*Dr. William Satterwhite/Wake Forest Baptist Health*

“I think it says a couple of things. First, people are concerned about COVID-19 and on some level, we all should be. I think it also says the people of the community are very interested in a high-quality mask, which this is. And I also think that people are interested in joining the movement to say, how do we mask the whole city?”

*Neill*

“When you started out in your medical career, I’m sure designing a mask probably wasn’t even on your radar screen. Am I correct?”

*Dr. Satterwhite*

“That is totally correct. In fact, six weeks ago it wasn’t even on my radar screen. So it was actually March 19, I was sitting on my back porch doing some work one night where I realized there are not going to be enough masks for the community, for health care workers. There just aren’t. Real demand is up, the supply chain is broken and, it’s not going to happen. And so I then said I’m going to call some of my team together and tell them we are going to start designing and making masks to fill the void. Which is one of the amazing things about it that together, we were able to come up with that is an incredible design. Totally knitted, has what we call a nice little air pocket in the front that plays off the fact that your nose sticks out and your chin sticks out. Cause if you’re wearing a mask a long time and it sits close to your face, it gets hot and wet and it’s really hard.”

*Neill*

“When and where specifically are you recommending people wear these masks?”

*Dr. Satterwhite*

“We recommend that people wear them whenever they are in public or whenever they are in tight spaces where you actually can’t have any distance between each other.”

*Neill*

“A lot of the masks, like this one, clip around your ears. But this specifically ties on the back of your head. Why did you go with the ties rather than the ear clips?”

*Dr Satterwhite*

“So your clips don’t really allow for much adjustment. So part of having a good, sealing, fit means that I am going to be able to secure it in multiple ways behind my head. Everybody’s face is different. Everyone’s head size is different and so you really need to have ties that work.”

*Neill*

“Is there a maximum number of times you can wash it?”

*Dr. Satterwhite*

“There’s not a maximum number of times and the industry standard in the clothing world is that their material needs to at least stand up for 25 washes and beyond.”

*Neill*

“Do you just wash it like in the normal wash cycle, normal detergent. Can you put it in the clothes dryer?”

*Dr. Satterwhite*

“Yes to both of those. We actually want you to wash it. Normally you would need to tie the straps or they’ll come out before you wash it and you also want to dry it. Heat is actually one of the things that kills COVID-19.”

*Neill*

“What is the big message you would like to get out to my viewers, people in this community, about these masks?”

*Dr. Satterwhite*

“First of all, from a technological standpoint, the masks are very, very good and you should feel comfortable wearing them. Second thing is masking is an important thing to do. It is one of the ways that I protect myself. But it’s also one of the ways I love my neighbor. I, you, by saying I don’t know if I have COVID-19, and I don’t want to share it with you. There’s a legitimate need to do that.”

For the very latest on the distribution of the masks, click here.

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