Cheryl Nestor Wolfe, CEO of Salem Health, addresses a COVID-19 incident command meeting on March 19, 2020 (Rachel Alexander/Salem Reporter)

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Supplies of masks, gowns and other protective equipment are running low at Salem Hospital, but the hospital isn’t yet seeking help from people with sewing machines.

As U.S. hospitals care for more patients suspected to have COVID-19, some have asked enterprising crafters to make fabric masks at home using guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That’s led to some inquiries from Salem residents seeking to help, spokesman Elijah Penner said. But the hospital said Friday on Facebook they aren’t accepting homemade items.

“We don’t have a need yet, and we don’t want you to use your fabric and time until we know the specifications we might possibly need. But we will keep you up to date should we need them!” Salem Health said on its Facebook page Friday.

The hospital will accept donations of commercially made surgical masks, N-95 masks, gowns and other equipment. Donations can be brought to the hospital’s Building B loading dock, Penner said.

Instead of sewing, hospital leaders are pleading with residents to follow health guidelines by staying home. 

“Without adequate testing, it is impossible for us to know who has the virus; or where and for how long they’ve exposed others. As a registered nurse for 46 years, I want to assure you that sheltering at home – while extreme – is critical. There is an urgent, painful need for social distancing and half-measures will not do enough to stop the spread of this virus,” Salem Health CEO Cheryl Nestor Wolfe said in a public letter Friday.

 “Our top priority is to provide care now and as the crisis worsens. In order to do this, we must keep our essential health care workers healthy and at work. Please help us by staying at home. While there, remember to still maintain a distance of six feet from other people, especially if you are not feeling well,” she wrote.

Contact reporter Rachel Alexander at rachel@salemreporter.com or 503-575-1241.