Stitching in dark times: the mask movement and Pagan Michigan

The ravages of the Covid 19 pandemic evidence themselves in daily infection and death statistics in Michigan. Hospital, nursing homes, and long term care facilities see grueling conditions of sickness and fatigue. They battle an unseen enemy with little defensive personal protection equipment, adequate staffing, or respite. One way that the public takes measures to fight the tide is to wear masks to slow the transmission, or “slow the spread”. In Michigan, this movement has seen Pagan involvement at every level.

Several members of the local community came forward to answer the call of the mask makers in Metro Detroit. Whether by direct donation of materials, or monetary contribution, the outpouring of support for the seamstresses and seamsters continues as the need increases. With the closing of fabric stores, many are clearing out their fabric stashes and elastic rolls from home.

Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s new order requires masks be worn in public, with some exceptions, during this time. Increasing requests forced a local mask maker in Hazel Park to turn to a local hotel chain for a donation of linens to meet the need of materials. Shipments from online sources have been slow, and in one case interrupted. Yet the work does not stop, the stitchers undaunted.

Effective on April 26, 2020 at 11:59 pm:

https://www.michigan.gov/whitmer/0,9309,7-387-90499_90705-526894–,00.html
  1. Any individual able to medically tolerate a face covering must wear a covering over his or her nose and mouth—such as a homemade mask, scarf, bandana, or handkerchief—when in any enclosed public space.
  2. All businesses and operations whose workers perform in-person work must, at a minimum, provide non-medical grade face coverings to their workers.
  3. Supplies of N95 masks and surgical masks should generally be reserved, for now, for health care professionals, first responders (e.g., police officers, fire fighters, paramedics), and other critical workers who interact with the public.
  4. The protections against discrimination in the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, 1976 PA 453, as amended, MCL 37.2101 et seq., and any other protections against discrimination in Michigan law, apply in full force to persons who wear a mask under this order.

Pagan doctors, nurses, respiratory therapists, and a myriad of medical disciplines from the local hospital networks of Henry Ford Health System, Beaumont Health, Ascension Health, and others are working doggedly to facilitate care for those battling the virus. In fact, many of those systems are part of a coalition of service at the TCF Regional Care Center in Detroit. These front lines also must attend to the all patients in their care who come in to the strained conditions at this time who have other emergent conditions. Stories of masks being passed from shift to shift are not just urban legends, they are facts. The systems are treading water with holes in the boat, so to speak.

Hundreds of homemade masks are flowing from friend to friend, covener to cowan, and priests/priestesses to other leaders. Health care workers have stories of masks being dropped on porches, in mailboxes, even one set by snail mail. Traditions and Paths set aside belief boundaries and get the work of distributing needed cloth masks, scrub caps, and even gloves, done. It is a wonder to witness just how strong the communal bond is when the asfoetida hits the fan.

The numbers that are behind these measures are horrifying. Currently, confirmed cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Michigan stand at 37,203 as of Saturday, including 3,274 deaths. Bridge Magazine features Michigan coronavirus dashboard: cases, deaths and maps, a daily report of numbers on the state of Michigan by county. Though the curve is flattening, it is far from stopping its relentless continuance. Testing sites throughout the Metropolitan Detroit see lines as long as quarter miles, filled with the anxious.

Morticians in the Pagan community are also facing increased pressure, as the needs of the bereaved come in escalated numbers and frequency. The reduction of mourners allowable are causing increased hardships. A conversation about death services is becoming more frequent in our circles, here. Rites and Traditions may find that the wishes of the decedent are not able to be followed at this time. Pagan clergy is stepping into new territory in a virtual world for mourning, and we still do not know what this will look like in many cases.

Please watch the video below, Funerals in the Age of Coronavirus by Ask A Mortician’s Channel. It covers some concerns some have expressed. For specific information, the CDC has its own guidelines Death Professionals follow.

https://youtu.be/4cbCU-0Hm0c

In Michigan, we are not at New York levels of infection, death, and recovery. However, part of that may be attributed to our taking the virus seriously and staying home. Groups formed early to prepare for the need for masks for our first responders and front line workers. Now, that mission expanded. One core group example would be Michigan Mask Movement on Facebook. Ethical and Focused, they are an example of what is right with people. Many Pagans are among their number. Their about statement says it all.

#MakeAMaskMovement #MichiganMaskMovement

🚨PLEASE HELP! Our medical field needs our help!! Ways to help:

♥️If you have N95 mask please donate them. ♥️If you can sew please make properly designed mask. (This in NO WAY replaces N95 mask.) (Pattern in the comments.) ♥️If you can’t sew, cut rectangles (message for details.) ♥️If you have fabric you can donate ♥️If you have elastic you can donate (flat hair bows, hair bands.) ♥️If you can’t do anything please consider donating money to buy supplies. Everyone is donating their time but supplies still cost to make. Although I would prefer if you can just purchase the supplies and get it to us!!!

Here at PBN, we would love to hear how your local Pagan community is coming together at this time of grit and compassion. If you have a story, send it to us and we would love to feature it. If you have a hometown hero doing their part to fight the virus, make the community better, or something marvelously kind, let us know. Send us an email. Your stories could inspire others.

We are all in this together.

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