Q: "Masks seem like a good idea, but we haven't any and there is a worldwide shortage"

It is true that the availability of surgical masks is an acute problem and that it is not feasible to equip the whole population in the short term, but homemade masks bring a partial level of protection that would immediately make a difference. Many tutorials for making masks are available online, see for instance the site of the association masks4all.
Also, China demonstrated that by mobilising their industry they were able to develop a significant production capacity in the short term: the carmaker BYD developed in 2 weeks mask-making machines, now built at the rate of 5 to 10 per day. At mid-march (after a month) BYD had built a production capacity of 5 millions masks per day, about the quarter of the total capacity in China before the crisis. Read the article in InsideEVs.
In any country, it is possible to mobilise and convert existing industrial capacity to quickly be able to build a sufficient supply of surgical masks for all.

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