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Americares Delivers 1.4 Million Masks to Protect Against COVID-19

  • April 17, 2020
  • Communicable Disease, Emergency Response, Health Care Providers

Stamford, Conn.  April 17, 2020 – Americares is delivering more than 1.4 million protective masks for health workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. The masks will help to alleviate shortages at hospitals and primary care facilities in 11 states and Puerto Rico.

The city of New York has already received 300,000 masks and the state of Connecticut and Boston Medical Center in Massachusetts have each received 100,000. In Puerto Rico, 40,000 masks will be distributed among 11 of Americares partner health centers on the island. The rest of the masks are headed to California, Colorado, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Tennessee and Washington where state and city officials will oversee the distribution and allocation of supplies to medical facilities based on need.    

Americares worked closely with longtime partner, the GE Foundation, to source the critically needed masks from a GE supplier in China. Medtronic Foundation and the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation also provided instrumental support for the purchase and distribution of the protective supplies.

Americares Vice President of Global Program Operations Martha Kennard inspects a shipment of 300,000 KN95 masks for health workers in New York City. Photo courtesy of Americares.
Americares Vice President of Global Program Operations Martha Kennard inspects a shipment of 300,000 KN95 masks for health workers in New York City. Photo courtesy of Americares.

“Hospitals and health facilities across the country are quickly running out of the personal protective equipment necessary to keep health workers safe while treating patients with COVID-19,” said Americares Vice President of Emergency Programs Kate Dischino. “These supplies will help thousands of health workers continue their life-saving work.”

The masks are KN95 masks, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined to be a suitable alternative for health workers when N95 masks are not available. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently issued an emergency use authorization to allow the use of KN95 masks that meet certain criteria in the U.S.

“The entire GE family is coming together to help fight COVID-19,” said GE Foundation President Linda Boff. “GE employees around the globe are ramping up production to manufacture vital medical equipment, keeping planes flying to deliver critical supplies to locations worldwide and servicing utility customers so that the world can fight the virus uninterrupted. The GE Foundation is proud to work with Americares to procure and donate essential personal protective equipment to support healthcare workers and protect patients.”

“We are committed to supporting the courageous front line workers who are delivering critical services to those in need,” said Paurvi Bhatt, president of the Medtronic Foundation. “Responding quickly to what is needed most requires partnerships across our industry and with nonprofits, like Americares. We have worked with Americares on a variety of disaster response efforts over the years and this trusted partnership is helping to get PPE to those in need fast so they can stay safe as they care for patients with COVID-19.”

“It is critically important that we come together as a community to address the medical supply shortages facing those on the frontlines of the COVID-19 response,” said John Damonti, president, the Bristol Myers Squibb Foundation. “As part of our long-standing support of Americares, and our organization’s commitment to COVID-19 response efforts, we’re proud to support this important work that will go a long way in helping meet this urgent need.”

Americares is providing critically needed protective gear, training and emotional support for health workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure they can continue their lifesaving work. To date, Americares has shipped protective gear and infection control supplies to health facilities in the United States, Haiti, Honduras, India, Lebanon, the Philippines and Tanzania. In the U.S. alone, Americares has delivered 25 tons of protective supplies to health facilities in 40 states. In addition, Americares is training health workers in infection prevention and control, disaster preparedness and mental health and psychosocial support.

Americares has a long history of responding to infectious disease outbreaks, including cholera, Ebola, dengue and Zika outbreaks. The organization has professional relief workers ready to respond to disasters at a moment’s notice and stocks emergency medicine and supplies in warehouses in the U.S., Europe and India that can be delivered quickly in times of crisis.

Americares responds to approximately 30 natural disasters and humanitarian crises worldwide each year, establishes long-term recovery projects and brings disaster preparedness programs to vulnerable communities. Since its founding more than 40 years ago, Americares has provided more than $18 billion in aid to 164 countries, including the United States.