Unmasked: A brief history of PPE
Two thousand. That’s the number of handmade masks that theater faculty members Kristin Jensen and Felicia Malachite, along with three of their graduate students, sewed and delivered to local businesses in the first six months of the coronavirus pandemic.
From the infamous plague doctors’ beaked masks of the 1600s to the face shields and N95 masks of today, personal protective equipment (PPE) has evolved significantly and has proven instrumental to health and safety in the medical field and in civic life. In our current struggle facing COVID-19, UMass has helped make and distribute much-needed PPE to area hospitals, essential service providers, and front-line health care workers.
But the new coronavirus isn’t the first time UMass has experienced an epidemic. When the 1918–19 influenza pandemic came along, Massachusetts Agricultural College (as it was known then) was prepared with nurses and dedicated space for patients. Then, as now, UMass is working to uphold the health and safety of the community. You can even purchase your very own UMass face mask from the campus store.