Etsy's CEO Encourages Sellers to Make Non-Medical Face Masks as Demand Skyrockets

Etsy is calling on its sellers to make face masks — and lots of them.

On Friday, the CDC announced recommendations that all citizens wear face coverings when going to the grocery store or other public places as the U.S. continues to follow social distancing guidelines during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In a blog post on Tuesday, Etsy CEO Josh Silverman asked sellers to consider using their skills and know-how to make and sell masks as the demand for them soars.

“While tens of thousands of sellers have already augmented their product offerings to include fabric face masks, demand will very likely outpace our sellers’ existing supply,” said Silverman, noting that hundreds of thousands of face masks were sold each day last week. “That’s why we are continuing to let sellers know that those with the skill and materials may want to consider creating and selling face masks on Etsy.”

: Coronavirus: How to Make Your Own Cloth Face Mask at Home

As stores across the country and online retailers like Amazon continue to sell out of masks, people are looking elsewhere to find face coverings. According to Silverman, “face mask” was the most popular search term on Etsy within the last two weeks. In fact, over the weekend alone it was searched for an average of nine times per second, resulting in over 2 million searches from April 4-6.

While the CDC emphasizes that this voluntary measure could help limit the spread of the virus, it is still unknown how safe cloth masks actually are. In light of this, Silverman reminds the site’s online storeowners not to “advertise or represent their products as medical devices” as homemade masks are not equivalent to medical-grade ones.

“We believe that the Etsy community is uniquely positioned to address this crucial need during a global health crisis,” the statement reads. “We hope that increasing the availability of fabric, non-medical grade face masks from Etsy sellers will allow more medical and surgical masks to reach the people who need them most: front-line healthcare workers.”

: Apple Donating 9 Million Masks to Hospitals Fighting Coronavirus Pandemic

A slew of other companies including Gap Inc., Christian Siriano and Ralph Lauren have taken steps to join the ongoing fight against coronavirus by reconfiguring facilities to produce medical masks and other necessary supplies for healthcare workers.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.

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