MOUNTAIN VIEW (KPIX 5) — With health officials now urging people to wear masks in public, the costume department of a Mountain View children’s theater company is using its skills to sew masks for medical personnel.

The coronavirus outbreak has forced the curtain to fall prematurely on Peninsula Youth Theatre’s run of the musical “Newsies” in Mountain View.

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“It was pretty devastating on so many different levels,” says producing artistic director Loryn Hatten.

But the troupe’s costume design department wasn’t idle for long. They’ve signed on for a supporting role in the real-life drama unfolding in clinics, ERs and intensive care units, volunteering to sew masks for frontline medical personnel.

“I emailed the rest of the group and asked if anyone was interested in making masks. And everyone was thrilled to be able to help in some way,” says costume designer Susie Lew.

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A Seam Team member sewing masks for health workers on the front lines of the coronavirus fight (CBS)

Lew says a member of the costume design department –nicknamed “The Seam Team”– learned that hospitals were on the verge of running out or rationing personal protective equipment like masks and face shields. The Seam Team began turning unused fabric from past performances into brand-new masks — an extra protection layer that could be worn over hospital-issued N-95 and surgical masks.

“The feedback that we got from doctors is that they’re absolutely useful. No, they won’t replace a N-95 mask. No, they do not replace a hospital-grade mask. But they are helpful and they are being well-used,” Hatten said.

The Seam Team has sewn more than two-hundred masks. Their first shipment was dropped off at Kaiser Santa Clara. A second shipment is being readied for staff at Queen of the Valley Hospital in Napa.

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“It’s just kind of unreal and shocking that we are where we are now. And we’re all just happy that we can help in some way,” Lew says.