City officials launch Mask the City initiative to stop the spread of COVID-19

City officials launch Mask the City initiative to stop the spread of COVID-19
April 21
14:57 2020

The City of Winston-Salem is partnering with Wake Forest Baptist Health (WFBH) and Renfro Company to supply enough face masks for everyone in the city. 

According to city officials, a group of doctors at WFBH have developed a new mask design that is effective in preventing the transmission of germs and bacteria. Renfro Company, a Mount Airy-based sock maker who moved its headquarters to Winston-Salem last year, will produce the masks locally and have already earmarked 300,000 for locals, including 60,000 for those living at or below the poverty threshold.  

Dr. William M. Satterwhite III, who led the team responsible for designing the mask and WFBH chief wellness officer, said the masks are equipped with a “breathing pocket” that makes it easier to breathe. He said the fact that they went from the design phase to mass production in less than a month is an amazing accomplishment. “It was just 29 days ago that I assembled my team and said there isn’t going to be enough masks. Not enough masks for healthcare workers, not enough masks for people in the city,” Satterwhite said. He said five days later the prototype was ready and within 15 days the masks were ready to be tested. 

“A stunning accomplishment in just 29 days,” Satterwhite continued. “And I will tell you, some of this happened on the design side, some of it has happened because of the leadership of this city.” 

When discussing the launch of the “Mask the City” program, Mayor Allen Joines said city officials hope to begin incrementally relaxing some of the restrictions and the Mask the City program will help ease the process when making those decisions.

“I’m extremely proud of the masking effort because I believe it will bring our community together for a common cause that will benefit us all,” Joines said. “Many local businesses and organizations have already committed to purchasing masks for their employees and the masks will also be made widely available to those who are in need in our community at no cost from a fund that’s being administered by the Winston-Salem Foundation.”

Joines continued, “In fact we hope to provide up to 60,000 masks to those individuals who are living at or below the poverty level in our community.” 

According to Joines, free distribution sites will be set up in locations across the city using various nonprofit organizations and churches. The Winston-Salem Foundation has set up a fund to provide masks for the various distribution sites. 

During a virtual press conference earlier today, Joines urged residents to wear a mask whenever they go outside to help stop the spread of COVID-19. 

“I’m seriously challenging every person in Winston-Salem to continue practicing social distancing and to add wearing a mask every time they go outside to help drastically stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” Joines said. “We must remain diligent … I am confident that the citizens of Winston-Salem will rise to this challenge and this occasion under the Mask the City initiative. This is our time to shine for all the country to see as we develop a new normal until a vaccine is developed.”

The City of Winston-Salem received the first shipment of more than 25,000 masks earlier this week and distribution has already started. Masks will be available for purchase at local Lowe’s Foods stores on Friday, April 24. 

For more information on the face masks, visit Additional information can be found at and on social media by searching “@maskthecity”. 

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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