By: Kendall Jones on March 27th, 2020
NC & SC Contractors Donate Face Masks to Area Hospitals
It’s Day 17 of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and things have gone from really bad to really, really, terribly, horribly worse. Since the World Health Organization (WHO) proclaimed the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, the total number of cases worldwide has skyrocketed from 126,214 (4,628 deaths) to 530,000+ (24,000+ deaths). In the U.S., that number of cases since March 11 has jumped from 1,301 cases (38 deaths) to over 85,000 reported cases and more than 1,300 dead.
More shelter-in-place orders are popping up every day and life as we know it has been upended with schools closing, people having to quickly adjust to working from home, to all but essential businesses having to temporarily close their doors. Essential workers, especially those in healthcare, are working under extremely stressful conditions as they try and provide basic needs to the public.
For the past couple of weeks, it’s been pretty much doom and gloom 24/7. But today, I’d like to focus on something else. Something positive. A feel-good story involving the construction industry that hopefully will put a smile on everyone’s face and restore a little bit of hope for humanity.
One of the reasons that many healthcare workers are so stressed out right now is that many are being asked to come to work every day without the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) to lower the risk of contracting COVID-19. Supplies are running low at many hospitals and medical clinics and offices across the country and manufacturers aren’t currently able to keep up with demand.
On Tuesday, March 17 during a press conference from the White House Coronavirus Task Force. During the briefing, Vice President Pence called on contractors to donate face masks to local hospitals:
“We would make one specific request and that is we would urge construction companies to donate their inventory of N95 masks to your local hospital and forgo additional orders of those industrial masks because of what the president asked to be included in legislation moving through the Congress today, those industrial masks that they use on construction sites, are perfectly acceptable for healthcare workers to be protected from a respiratory disease. But we’re asking construction companies—that our president knows very well from his background—we’re asking them to donate their N95 masks to their local hospitals and also forgo making additional orders.”
At the time, there was no additional guidance on how construction firms were supposed to respond to the vice president’s request. This is at a time when panic buying, along with a higher than expected demand by the healthcare industry for N95 respirators, has depleted supplies across the country. Construction workers rely on these respirators to protect them from a number of respiratory hazards that can lead to asbestos-related diseases, lung cancer, and silicosis.
After hearing the vice president’s call to action, Leslie B. Clark, Vice President, Operations
Director, SC Government Relations & Divisions of Carolinas AGC (CAGC) got to work. She contacted the SC Hospital Association to see if they needed N95 respirators. It turns out they were in dire need of face masks.
Leslie and Betsy Bailey, Director, NC Government Relations & Building Division began organizing a donation drive for face masks from contractors throughout North Carolina and South Carolina. They contacted CAGC members via email asking them to donate any masks they could spare. By the end of the week, over 500 masks had found their way to hospitals throughout South Carolina.
“I have worked for the construction industry for over 20 years and I have never met a more generous group of individuals. Contractors are salt of the earth, hard-working, generous people who care about their employees and their communities,” said Clark. “Anytime there is a crisis in South Carolina they are on the front lines helping. Simply put, giving is in their DNA and anytime there is a need they are there to fill it.”
During a press conference on Monday, South Carolina Governor acknowledged the contributions from CAGC members and other construction firms who had stepped up to donate face masks.
CAGC has continued to ask for donations through their website and social media pages.
About Kendall Jones
Kendall Jones is the Editor in Chief at ConstructConnect. He has been writing about the construction industry for years, covering a wide range of topics from safety and technology to industry news and operating insights.