CHICAGO — Volunteers from across Chicago came together to help hospitals in need of essential medical equipment Sunday, collecting donations of vital supplies to support the fight against COVID-19.
Normally home to Bulls and Blackhawks crowds, the United Center is just one of many public spaces transformed by the pandemic. The parking lot became a donation station to collect much-needed supplies Sunday.
“You start thinking about the medical shortages, and we just want to get this stuff to these people and fight this thing and help everybody move on,” volunteer Davis Zagortz said.
Some brought cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer, but the greatest need is for “personal protective equipment” aka PPE, which includes gowns, gloves and masks worn to protect doctors, nurses, and first responders as they treat and transport patients.
“The PPE equipment, are things we’re collecting today that people might have in their homes – like factory workers, people who do home construction, people who do art, things like that – who would have this equipment,” said Beth Rottman, Executive Director of the nonprofit Project C.U.R.E.
Chicagoan Roberto Madera said he found some leftover masks from a painting project.
“I found a couple of masks in the garage. They’ve been in there for a year, so I brought them out,” Madera said. “If a doctor or a nurse can save more lives and themselves, they need it more.”
The donation drive was organized by Project C.U.R.E., which normally sends medical supplies to developing countries. Now its focus has shifted inward.
“About two weeks ago, everything changed, where we now are receiving requests domestically,” Rottman said. “Our supply chain is struggling. We’ve been around since 1987 and we’ve never seen this before.”
Governor JB Pritzker has outlined the need for PPE in Illinois, which as of Sunday has an additional 1,100 COVID-19 cases.
Supplies gathered Sunday will be distributed throughout the Chicago area to hospitals, nursing homes, police and firefighters who need it most.