Health care workers in San Francisco got a large shipment of protective equipment Friday — a critical arsenal as they battle the coronavirus pandemic.
The donation from Flexport, a San Francisco company that uses software to make international trade more efficient, includes 60,000 surgical masks, 34,000 gloves, 2,000 surgical gowns and 50 thermometers. Mayor London Breed announced the delivery Saturday in conjunction with Supervisor Catherine Stefani, who served as an intermediary.
Officials said they would put the supplies to immediate use in San Francisco’s Emergency Operations Center.
“Our frontline health care workers and first responders are doing heroic work to protect people and save lives during this crisis,” Breed said, noting the need for more equipment as the city braces for a surge of COVID-19 cases.
Hospitals throughout the country are confronting a scarcity of masks and other gear, which became so dire in Washington state that medical workers made 500 masks out of vinyl, tape, foam and elastic purchased at Home Depot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidelines, allowing workers to use bandannas, scarves, and homemade masks as a last resort.
Experts cited several reasons for the shortage, including the rapidly spreading virus — which quickly stripped hospitals of their supplies — and a consumer buying spree. Also, hospitals rely on manufacturers from China and Italy for their supplies, said Brent Andrew, spokesman for San Francisco General Hospital. Both countries were hit hard by the coronavirus, which led to economic disruptions.
In San Francisco and elsewhere, concerned citizens have rallied hospital donations online while elected officials work behind the scenes.
“I was thrilled — but not surprised — to hear that Flexport is stepping up to deliver thousands of much-needed surgical gowns, gloves, masks, and more to our local efforts to flatten the curve,” Stefani said. “When we all step up, there’s no challenge too great for San Francisco.”