Kiya Tomlin, wife of Mike Tomlin, sewing masks for Pittsburgh-area hospitals
Kiya Tomlin, the wife of Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, has transitioned away significantly from running her eponymously named fashion line amid the coronavirus pandemic to sew masks, which she has been donating to Pittsburgh-area hospitals.
With her regular workspace closed and currently confined to the family home amid Pennsylvania’s stay-at-home order, Kiya Tomlin recently learned from a friend in Indiana about that state’s healthcare workers desperate need for face masks, even those not as effective as the difficult-to-obtain N95 version.
“Something is better than nothing,” she said of the masks she’s making at home on her Baby Lock sewing machine, per Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL Media, adding, “I haven’t sewn on this machine this much in a long time.”
Kiya Tomlin was kind enough to talk to us about sheltering at home in Pittsburgh, her husband’s booming voice and most importantly, sewing #masks to help slow the spread of #COVID19. Please give it a read! @nflnetwork @steelers https://t.co/JohO0ZwSp8— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) April 6, 2020
Tomlin has partnered with the Allegheny Health Network, and she and her team currently continues to churn out washable, reusable cloth masks, though she continues to tinker with the design to make them more effective. These modifications include adding an open pocket where a HEPA filter vacuum bag, or some other item, could be placed to help filter particles that could spread COVID-19.
Tomlin, along with her small group of staffers that includes daughter Harlyn — all of whom are “practicing social distancing,” she assures, with employees sewing at their homes — have so far donated 300 masks to Pittsburgh-area hospitals. Another 500 masks were made between the five sewers last week.
When asked why she endeavored to lend her expertise to coronavirus relief efforts, Tomlin replied that it’s “just who I am.”