Essex woman makes masks her mission

Anne Miller, founder of, a clearinghouse for PPE, holds up a face shield at her home in Essex on Thursday, December 17, 2020. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

By VTDigger

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended in January that for maximum protection against Covid-19 infection, people should upgrade to a N95 or KN95 mask.

For Vermonter Anne Miller, masks and personal protective equipment are personal. In April 2020, her mother-in-law was among the first Vermonters to die after contracting Covid-19. After that, the health care consultant and resident of Essex made it her mission to find and disseminate top-quality personal protective equipment, or PPE, to anyone who wanted it.

Miller is the executive director of Project N95, a “PPE clearinghouse” that connects people who need personal protective equipment to companies that make it. Project N95 has delivered more than 12 million units of PPE and Covid-19 tests. The U.S. government is now offering a limited number of free N95 masks through pharmacies and other outlets.

When it comes to finding high-quality masks, “The big part of this is fit and filtration,” Miller said. “An N95 has those straps across the back, they mess up your hair. These are the ones that are going to confer the best protection for you.”

Miller warns that when the CDC tested masks, “60 percent of the KN95s that they tested were found to be fake … in the sense that they didn’t do what they claimed to do. They didn’t filter 95 percent.”

She said it’s important to order from sources, such as Project N95, that test and certify that their masks meet rigorous standards.