National Cathedral donates 5,000 respirator masks to DC hospitals

Washington National Cathedral of Washington, DC. A congregation of The Episcopal Church, it is one of the largest church buildings in the world.
Washington National Cathedral of Washington, DC. A congregation of The Episcopal Church, it is one of the largest church buildings in the world. | (Photo: Courtesy Washington National Cathedral)

The Washington National Cathedral has donated 5,000 N95 masks to two medical facilities in the District of Columbia metropolitan area, having recently discovered them in storage.

The cathedral announced on Wednesday that they sent 3,000 masks to MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and 2,000 N95 masks to Children’s National Hospital.

According to a statement posted to Facebook, the N95 masks were recently discovered in storage by a stonemason, having been acquired years earlier for a previous health scare.

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“They had been acquired after a previous health scare, stored away in the Cathedral crypt and forgotten,” stated the cathedral on Wednesday. “Current CDC guidelines, and the manufacturer, concluded the masks were still good since they had never been opened. We're hoping it's a small step in helping to protect the people who need it most.”

The Very Rev. Randolph Hollerith, dean of the cathedral, said in a statement that it was one of many things the congregation was doing in response to the pandemic.

“In these difficult and trying times, the Cathedral community is doing everything we can to help protect the most vulnerable among us from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic,” stated Hollerith.

“We have made significant adjustments to our worship programs and made church services available for streaming online, and now we’re prepared to take this additional, proactive step to ensure thousands have access to protection that otherwise may never have been available to them.”

The cathedral’s donation of masks comes as many medical facilities and organizations in the United States report a shortage of personal protective equipment such as hospital gowns, face shields, and respiratory N95 face masks.

National Public Radio reported that several groups have launched projects to get more mask donations from assorted groups, including nail salons and museums.

Shabd Simon-Alexander, an activist who helped to launch the group Mask Crusaders, told NPR that she felt the efforts were inspiring yet showed the failures of officials to prioritize the matter.

“I'm super inspired by the way that people are stepping up to help each other. And I love to see, like the beauty in humanity, but in reality, it shouldn't fall on us,” said Simon-Alexander to NPR. “We can't mutual aid our way out of systemic failure. And it's not sustainable. It's just a stopgap.”

For his part, President Donald Trump stated at a press briefing on Tuesday that his administration was in the process of delivering large quantities of PPE materials.

“Through FEMA, the federal government is distributing more than 8 million N95 respirators, 14 million surgical masks, and many, many millions more are under order, and they’ll be arriving soon,” explained Trump.

“2.4 million face shields, 1.9 million surgical gowns, 13.5 million gloves, and more than 4,000 ventilators to the areas of greatest need have already been sent.  And we have 4,000 being delivered to New York.”

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