CHICAGO — Nearly 100,000 N95 masks were donated to Chicago first responders as the coronavirus pandemic wears on.
They were donated buy a charitable group that preferred to remain anonymous, but the delivery was made possible by Blue Flame Medical, a global medical supply and logistics company based out of Washington, D.C.
The masks — sent from China — were unloaded Tuesday at the United Center’s loading dock. All of them earmarked for first responders.
“The N95 masks in particular are actually one of the hardest things in the world to get a hold of right now,” said Blue Flame Medical spokesperson Ethan Bearman.
More than 500 Chicago Police Department officers have tested positive for COVID-19 since the beginning of the global health crisis. Three of them have died from complications of the virus.
There are nearly 13,000 officers on the force.
CPD Supt. David Brown again reminded officers to wear department-issued surgical masks, even when inside a police facility or in a squad car with a partner.
Top police commanders said they now have enough personal protective equipment (PPE) to stockpile for the future.
Swedish Hospital on Chicago’s North Side said they have also seen a dramatic improvement in the availability of PPE since March and April.
“Every day we were hearing reports on how may more days we hand on hand of N95s, for example,” said Dr. Shameem Abbasy, Swedish Medical Group.
N95 masks have a relatively short shelf life, neither the mask nor the respirators are intended to be used more than once, according to experts.