Apple to donate millions of face masks to health workers

The company says they aim to donate at least 2 million industrial masks

With the coronavirus now multiplying at an alarming rate, companies are doing their part in helping out locally and globally. With the resources they have on-hand, some are helping out in the development of testing kits, distribution of alcohol, and in the donation of masks and other protective equipment. Apple CEO Tim Cook has also decided to contribute. In a tweet from last Saturday, Cook said that Apple will donate millions of masks for health workers in the US and EU.

The Verge reports that earlier in the day, Vice President Mike Pence in a White House press briefing preempted Cook’s announcement saying,

“The president and I literally heard directly from Apple that they’re donating 2 million industrial masks to this effort around the country and working with our administration to distribute those.”

It’s unclear how exactly Apple will procure said masks as the current demand is at an extreme high while supply slowly dwindles. This is the case all around the world. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, in a note to employees, said that maks remain in short supply globally. The company itself has placed a purchase order for masks with the intention to distribute to their own employees but, as the note details, “very few of those orders have been filled.”

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The Department of Health and Human Services has also placed an order for N95 masks, according to Pence, and will be coordinated through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Unfortunately, the shortage of face masks has resulted in health workers and individuals to resort to different methods of protection. Some are using less effective masks as a replacement while others aren’t using one at all. The Washington Post reports that Pence has asked construction companies to donate their masks to local hospitals to help in the supply shortage and that they should refrain from ordering any more.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, told reporters in the White House briefing room that they are doing their best to get a fresh supply of masks as quickly as they can. “We’re going to try to make it days to the best possible way that we can.” he says. He anticipates that masks should arriver “sooner than weeks”.

Other companies who have donated to the cause include Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, who gave a truckload of personal protective equipment (PPEs) directly to the UCLA Health facility. Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, as well, donated their emergency reserve of 720,000 masks and are continuing to source for more to donate.

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