For the last couple of months, Boston City Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George has spent a lot of time at her sewing machine, but it's not an unfamiliar place for her. Along with her council duties, Essaibi-George also runs a small business in Dorchester called The Stitch House. Lately, she's been sewing and distributing face coverings in an effort to protect people from the coronavirus, and even helped to start the Boston Area Mask Initiative. WGBH Morning Edition host Joe Mathieu spoke with Essaibi-George about the initiative's progress so far as Massachusetts mandates that people wear masks in public spaces. The transcript below has been edited for clarity.

Joe Mathieu: You've provided a lot of masks to a lot of people. You even personally have sewn thousands of them, and now we have no choice when we walk out of the house.

Councilor Annissa Essaibi-George: We're hitting the 4,000 mask number. I didn't think I'd be making masks in May, but here I am.

Mathieu: My God! I look at your website and you've had live numbers running on the number of requests [and] the number of masks you have sewn. My gosh, you could do this the rest of your life, it looks like; 45,000 people are still looking for masks.

Essaibi-George: Yeah, we've got a huge demand on masks. And for me, the part that I enjoy the most is making masks for those that are really in need. We've got an order going out this afternoon to the engagement center. So when we're working with individuals who really are vulnerable and really do need access to good face coverings, I'm happy to do it.

Mathieu: Forty-five thousand total masks requested. You have sewn more than 17,000. How many people are you working with at this point, Councilor?

Essaibi-George: Through the Boston Area Mask Initiative, we have a few hundred volunteer sewers that are making between 10 masks and hundreds of masks. It is certainly a small army of sewers and sewists that are contributing to this effort. My effort through The Stitch House has been really directed towards organizations that I've done work with as a city councilor and really want to support and continue to do that work. And splitting my day between my council duties, our budget hearings, regular community meetings and then finding and sneaking some time on the sewing machine has been quite a balancing act, but one that I feel lucky that I can do. And then plus my children and school from home.

Mathieu: If you follow Councilor Essaibi-George on Twitter, you will not need her to tell you [she's] a force of nature. I'm pretty sure you don't sleep, and I know I don't get much myself. But I want to ask you, if somebody wants a mask — let's say they're not necessarily part of the frontline workforce, but we do have this mandate in place today and people want to do the right thing — how should they reach out to you?

Essaibi-George: Yeah, they can certainly send me an email. I'll take it to my a.e.george@boston.gov email. Also, give me a call at The Stitch House, 617-265-8013.

Mathieu: Well, that's some homespun business.

Essaibi-George: I'd give my cell phone number out, but that might cause a little too much trouble.

Mathieu: Yeah, I don't think we want to do that this morning.

Essaibi-George: Yeah, and you can find me on Facebook and on Twitter. Send me a DM or a message on Facebook. We'll get it.

Mathieu: Are you running into shortages at all, in terms of materials?

Essaibi-George: Well, I'm an avid sewer, or at least I have been most of my life. My mother taught me how to sew when I was 6 and I worked at a fabric store for about 15 years as a young person and through college, and I've collected a lot of fabric. I don't sew as much as I used to because life got in the way, so I am pretty much still sewing from my own personal stash of fabric.

But like you mentioned, I own The Stitch House, so I do have a supply of fabric should I need to dip into it. We also have some really great volunteers that are making masks from their own stash of fabric and have been very generous about sharing their stash with others. Elastic in the beginning was really hard to get a hold of, and that was a national problem — especially quarter inch-wide elastic for the ear loops. That supply has caught up, and we have, too. And we've been able to give that to a lot of other sewers as well.

Mathieu: Well, that's good to hear. I'm really proud of my mask that that I got from the initiative because it's got a couple of cool things. It's reversible, and one of the sides was made from an actual Boston Marathon T-shirt. You guys are getting pretty creative with your materials.

Essaibi-George: Yeah, there's always a way to find a little bit of fun through this crisis. And "fun" I think understates the impact that this crisis has had on a lot of people and a lot of families. But while we're sewing, if you've got a cool T-shirt that you want us to cut out and turn into a mask, we're happy to do that. We've done that for a number of folks, and it makes wearing a face covering a little bit more doable.

I think about my own boys in particular. They really don't want to wear masks. So one of them, we cut up an old Red Sox T-shirt and it looks fabulous. Someone else has an E.M.S. t-shirt, one of my other boys. And it looks great. They have to wear them, especially now. Starting today, you have to wear some sort of face covering, so you might as well enjoy wearing it and have some fun with it. Whether it's one of my masks, a bandana [or] a beautiful scarf — Councilor Kim Janey has done some beautiful posts on some face coverings that she's fashioned — it is going to become a fashion statement, it is necessary [and] it is lifesaving, so you might as well have a little bit of fun and be a little creative. Or not creative — be as boring as you want to be.

Today you have got to start covering up, especially in public [and] especially in places like grocery stores and convenience stores. It's really important for yourself and for others.

Mathieu: You mentioned your boys. You know, we've been reading about teenagers this morning. We're all working from home, in many cases with kids. The teenage years are especially tough, though, and I don't need to tell you that. How are they staying busy and focused on what's going on around them?

Essaibi-George: Well, it's funny. I feel so old when I think back. If this happened when I was 14 or 15 — my triplet boys are 14, my older boy is 15 — we wouldn't have access to the video games, cell phones, the Zoom classrooms [and] the Google classrooms. So my boys' real, real school started this week. Boston Public Schools in particular has sort of shifted how they're doing school from home. I feel very lucky that my boys are teenagers, so although not always highly motivated, [they] can do this work and can access this work. They aren't elementary school, they aren't kindergarten. I really feel for those parents of younger kids. There's been a little bit of sneaking out [and] we've had to corral them back in. It's really tough as the weather gets better, but they're I think fully understanding the magnitude of this crisis and the impact they could have on our family, on my mother [and] on my mother-in-law — who we haven't seen — if they were to become carriers. And because of my work [and] because we often have the news on, they see the reality and it's difficult for them. But we're managing.

And I know like most families, we're sort of itching for the end. We've done such a good job as a city and a state flattening this curve, but we've got to stay the course because we know in the long run it's better for our city and it's better for our state.