• Along with social distancing, face masks are increasingly becoming a familiar sight in cities around the country and are regarded as helpful in limiting the spread of the coronavirus.
  • One enterprising artist has come up with a unique twist on face mask designs — adding a straw hole, so that even though you may be worried enough about catching the COVID-19 coronavirus to want to wear a face mask, it doesn’t have to get in the way of your drinking.
  • Visit BGR’s homepage for more stories.

The rift in America over face masks keeps getting worse.

Retailers near where I live are increasingly posting signs that announce something along the lines of — if you want to shop here, you have to wear a mask to come inside. It’s believed that masks, as a complement to social distancing, can help limit the spread of the virus by blocking germs you might expel. Since, remember, people can be infected with the coronavirus and not know it, so seemingly healthy people have a role to play in limiting the spread. Meanwhile, everyone has been sending the American public mixed signals, shall we say, when it comes to the importance of masks. President Trump refuses to wear one. Regulations vary from city to city. People have gotten into fistfights at stores over masks – and, as if all that wasn’t enough, the CDC recently said it doesn’t have any data about whether or how much face masks work in providing protection from the coronavirus. Confused yet?

Artist Ellen Macomber recently decided to take matters into her own hands, designing a new kind of face mask that might be more widely embraced by people worried about the coverings getting in the way of activities they want to do, like drinking.

It’s an outgrowth of her early response to the coronavirus pandemic that included sewing masks to help keep people safe from the virus. Her online shop features other products like handbags, but it was an idea from a friend — and the fact that, being in New Orleans, drinking is pretty much one of the official pastimes in that party city — which convinced her to give this face-mask-with-a-straw-hole project a try.

Working with an assistant, Macomber produced 40 masks in a week. It takes about an hour to make each one, and the materials used include cotton along with other fabrics. Macomber charges $30 per mask. Of course, she’s aware that her masks aren’t a perfect protective solution, given the obvious hole in the center of them. These seem to be positioned along the lines of being better than nothing at all. “This is the biggest s - - tshow I’ve ever encountered in my life,” Macomber told Fast Company. “So I’m just rolling with the punches, and trying to provide my clients with what they’re asking for: a mask.”


Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.