an extra-ordinary week
As the coronavirus spread in China I saw inhabitants wearing face masks on the news. Later, with the virus spreading and spreading, these masks appeared at Schiphol Airport. Meanwhile, healthcare was and still is screaming for protective supplies, like gloves and masks. Because there is a shortage of mouth masks, nurses and other people working in health care use alternatives that are not safe. Several stories have come in from nurses who work with self-made dust masks or kitchen towels. Because of the scarcity, resources often have to be used longer or products, such as aprons, must be used for 24 hours. This increases the chance of contamination for the care provider and the patient many times. Many healthcare professionals are concerned about their own safety, but also of their patients and their families. There are initiatives who say they want to provide face masks, but these caps must meet many requirements to make it completely resistant to the virus. The Netherlands is working hard to supply face masks and I will show you my research on behavior around face masks.
In this project I do an investigation about the face masks. What is behavior around them? What is the Netherlands doing to protect their healthcare professionals? Can we get the masks in big numbers?
Unite. During this time I see people reaching out, caring for each other. Beautiful initiatives to help weak people have grown. People want to help each other and even though this is a though time for humankind, it's also a time when we unite. The face masks at first seemed overprotective to me, but it's actually to prevent infecting people around you.
The face mask unites us during this time; visualizing that we're all in this together, we have to shield to save lives, stay home to flatten the curve. Wearing a face mask to protect yourself as well as others.
Dutch business people are working days in a row hours and hours to supply face masks to the healthcare. I got the opportunity to see these people at work. I saw a beautiful initiative growing to take care of corona patients as well as doctors who need the supplies.
I will show you the developments around the face masks.
he is just doing it for the fashion
At this point I was still pretty sceptical about the face masks and wanted to observe people at Schiphol Airport who were wearing the masks. I hopped on the bus to go to Schiphol. Many tourists flew from over the boarders with half of their faces covered. In the Netherlands this was still rare; people with face masks. In the people I photographed with face masks I soon recognized patterns; they were all from a diversity of backgrounds, including most countries who were facing the troubles of corona intensely, like Italy and China. Observing these people I saw that the masks were fake protection. People treated it laxly. Blowing your nose? The mask goes off. Itchy nose? The same happens. The boy in the fourth picture was the only one in his group of friends wearing a masks, so I asked him why. One of his friends answered instead; "he is just doing it for the fashion". The boy nodded.The little boy in the fifth picture didn't even put the mask over his mouth. The black and white and flashy shots illustrated the anonymity of the people.
empty shelves are waiting
I got the opportunity to see the warehouse with my own eyes. This warehouse is reserved to collect and distribute protection supplies. The supplies come in from Schiphol Airport, afterwards they are spread over hospitals and practitioner posts. The staff is preparing for large badges to arrive. The current state of the shelves is emptiness. The face masks, after arriving in the stockroom, won't stay there long, because as fast as possible they have to go to healthcare professionals. The energy in the stockroom was vibrant. All the staff members had to sign a confidentiality statement. They were excited to be put on such an important mission. The location of the stockroom has to be secret, as the robbery danger is high.
The empty shelves are waiting.
In a few days a whole new business has been built. Here, professionals assembled in secret to supply protective supplies for health care. This business exists 2 weeks on this day. On day 1 they worked with 10 people and currently this number has risen to 150 people. On the third day of my project I came here and got to experience these extremely passionate people. It's so beautiful to see all of them working so hard, because their country needs them. Everybody wants to help. The security guard was asked what she thought of her job, standing hours and hours at the front door. She answered; "I am so honored I can be part of this community, working together to help people out." With many intermediate steps it's to intention to reach healthcare with needed products.
Day 1 develops into day 4 as the measures in the Netherlands have become more strict. Wearing face masks in public evolved from being very rare to being normal. The scarcity of face masks also hits non-healthcare people. Old accessories were taken out of the closet. More and more alternatives like scarves and buffs were used. Again, I see the pattern of fake protection popping up, it's more as a matter of form. As many others Coot pulled an old accessory out of her closet, "just for the fashion".
After days of working as hard as possible the first badge of supplies came in. In a stockroom they were stored until they found a new home. The rumors about the panda wearing a mask had been going around for some time and finally, the day before, they were delivered from Schiphol to the stockroom. At 5 o'clock in the morning Sarah stood at a landing strip at Schiphol to receive the pandas with open arms. This day Sarah, Rob and me visited the stockroom again and could see the badge with our own eyes. I saw the pride in Robs eyes.
slip of the tongue
After hours and hours debating minister de Jonge slipped his tongue; he mentioned the location of the stockroom. Extra security was needed to keep the masks save. In a matter of moments a portacabin, including chairs and a table, was put down. A pole for energy was installed. Extra staff for security was welcomed. And in all of this happened in a moment. In Spain a stockroom with face masks has been robbed, so for extra security these measures were taken.
After the arrival of the face masks in the stockroom they have to be tested on sight. At the location a test room was created out of nowhere. The masks have to meet many requirements. At a similar time the corona tests developed into being rare and not many people would be tested. Only with clear signals or when a health care professional shows some of the signals, they will be tested. The supply of face masks and the corona tests intertwine as it is extra important to wear face masks when you're tested with corona. When a healthcare professional is positive after being tested for corona, they have to stay at home. On one of the pictures a healthcare professional is being tested.