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Provincetown, like everywhere in the North East , faces a shortage of PPE for those working for our health and safety. Supply chains are falling apart and the federal government, rather than get more made and organize demand for bulk buying and equitable distribution has been encouraging profiteers, seizing shipments, playing favorites and leaving some of the most at risk towns and states to fend for themselves. Until that gets back to normal we are lucky to be able to help protect these folks. 100% of donations spent on masks and respirators for:
"Other initiatives to provide face masks and respirators are underway on the Outer Cape. In Provincetown, Michael Goff, along with Steven Latasa-Nicks, started the LGBTQ Corps, which has sourced, funded, and delivered a three-week supply of KN95 respirators and surgical masks for the town’s first responders and local nonprofit staff."
"...By organizing, the Corps was able to secure masks through Masks for Life, a West Coast GoFundMe project that Goff knew was distributing masks purchased in China. In total they secured about 4,000 masks and respirators combined. Goff said they cost just under $2.50 for each respirator and less than 50 cents for each surgical mask. The LGBTQ Corps is continuing to raise money for procuring protective gear..."
A. N95s are made to American FDA specifications. kN95 are Chinese specifications. There are also Japanese (DS), Korean (KMOEL) , Australian (P2), and European (FFP2) specs. Very recently the FDA approved the importing and use of kN95 Respirators in place of N95s. The minor differences :
Q. DO THESE DIFFERENCES MATTER? WHO SAYS?
A. "...respirators certified as meeting these standards can be expected to function
very similarly to one another, based on the performance requirements
stated in the standards and confirmed during conformity testing."
--Report from 3M Research: Comparison of FFP2, KN95, and N95 Filtering Facepiece Respirator Classes . (3M is manufacturer of choice for N95 respirators by many users and municipalities. Hardly the most likely to come out with analysis like this this analysis comparing all 5 other country specifications this past January (hmm, wonder why they did that then.)
Q. WHAT IS THE SOURCE OF FUNDING AND GEAR?
A. We have been allowed to order with a group called Masks4life which raises funds, gets gear from China and donates it to more than 100 resource-challenged health-providing and health related services, for the most part serving lgbt and api communities. Our donated gear is purchased specifically for Provincetown, and is 100% funded by local donations. (please donate and join our generous group of funders. All of your donation is spent on gear for Provincetown.)
The source in China has a medical gear division and has up to date FDA certifications. I am happy to direct anyone interested to the relevant pages.
Q. ARE YOU SPENDING DONATIONS ON EXPENSIVE PROFITEER GEAR and OTHER THINGS?
A. NO. All donations go to gear. No other expenses. We pay the price our partners pay and so far it's the best prices i have heard of. $0.47 cents for each surgical mask and $1.72 for each respirator. At the time of the order the town said they were contemplating makign orders at more than $10 per respirator and they were concerned they would not be able to find them.
Q. HOW DOES THIS MAKES NO SENSE? WHY THE HELL TRUST MY SAFETY TO THIS GEAR?
A. It makes no sense and you shouldn't have to. If you can get gear that is certified and verified through the supply chain from known sources, you absolutely should. It would be great to hear that and we won't be offended. This makes no sense other than under wartime type scarcity we were not prepared for. (Links below). It's approaching dire in much of the country but coalitions of states are making headway and hopefully Provincetown will start seeing the effects in coming weeks. A few logical reasons to feel a bit better about our imperfect supply:
Is any of this enough? Certainly not.
But the extreme shortages with gear used for weeks at a time if available, and with priorities set, the donated gear can help preserve gear you have more confidence in for the most dangerous jobs.
--If Behenny Frankel of the Real Housewives of New York was foiled by scammer offering 10 million 3M respirator masks, what are any of us mortals supposed to do? More from this comprehensive Buzz Feed report (in some ways the kN95 of media sources) specifically on sourcing these masks from April 23rd:
"HOW is a resource center for women living with chronic or life threatening conditions. We serve the Outer Cape community from Provincetown to Eastham."
-- US, Canada, the New England Patriots, and other cities and states are chartering flights to try to expedite orders of PPE. Canada's flew back empty handed.
--In March the US agreed to buy 600 million N95s for more than $3 not including shipping and other costs to be delivered over 18 months .... though needed now.
"After the coronavirus outbreak began, China imported two billion masks. France ordered a billion and vowed to become self-sufficient by year-end. The U.S. government has done comparatively little to coordinate purchasing and ensure that American governments and hospitals aren’t competing." --NYTimes on April 3rd
--Hospital in Georgia could only find N95 masks for $7 each from a manufacturer in Mexico
Bethanie Marie Gregory, Chef at SKIP (Soup Kitchen in Provincetown) cooks for 100+ weekdays in the off season. Mask by Masks4Life via LGBTQ Corps donation. She's a tireless advocate and a tough cook.
April 21: Landscape Canada sent two planes to China to pick up PPE supplies. They came back empty.
"we set the plan in motion. Three members of the supply-chain team and a fit tester were flown to a small airport near an industrial warehouse in the mid-Atlantic region. I arrived by car to make the final call on whether to execute the deal. Two semi-trailer trucks, cleverly marked as food-service vehicles, met us at the warehouse. When fully loaded, the trucks would "
-- New England Journal of Medicine -- Here is an incredible -- and really short but highly credible-- story about the insane profiteering and then having to dodge the FBI just to get PPE gear for a Massachusetts hospital.