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Coronavirus Face Masks: 'Crazy Jawnaments Lady' Pins Homemade Masks To Her Fence In Fishtown For Anyone To Take

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Now that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that everyone wear a face mask due to the coronavirus pandemic, they've become a hot commodity. Even homemade masks are hard to come by.

"I put 20 out yesterday, last night, and they were all gone," Susan Murphy said.

If you sew it, they will come.

That's the reality for Murphy, who's been sewing face masks and pinning them to her fence in Fishtown for anyone to take.

face masks
(Credit: CBS3)

Murphy's full-time job is as a business professor at the University of Delaware, but in Fishtown, she's affectionately known as the "Crazy Jawnaments Lady."

The masks are free, but she asks that you only take one.

"What I've been telling people is instead of paying me, go and order takeout because that would help the local restaurant industry more than I need help," Murphy said.

It's the same concept across town.

The sewing machine at N.R.S. Boutique on Passyunk Avenue is working overdrive.

Nicole Styer is the owner of the customer and vintage clothing store. Since Gov. Tom Wolf closed all non-essential businesses, she says all she does is make masks.

"It totally pivoted my business to making masks right now," Styer said.

Styer says she's donated hundreds of masks to health care professionals, first responders and even delivery drivers.

She's also accepting orders from the general public.


"I have a lot of customers who are nurses and they reached out and I was like, 'Yeah, let me see how many I can whip up.' It just kind of kept on coming from there," Styer said.

While the CDC is now recommending people wear face masks, or some other face-covering when out in public, health experts also want to make sure they don't give you a false sense of security.

Dr. Ron Collman is a researcher at Penn. He says the benefits of homemade face masks are still being researched.

But Collman says to make sure your mouth and nose are covered, and that you continue to distance yourself from others -- even when wearing a mask.

"I think it's unlikely to be harmful unless it gives somebody a false sense of security and it makes them think that they could have closer contact than they should really," Collman said.

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