Facebook and Apple are donating emergency-reserve masks to those in need as hospital stocks run low. Mark Zuckerberg’s social network provided 720,000 masks to health workers who “urgently need more protective gear,” while Tim Cook promised “millions of masks” for healthcare professionals in the US and Europe.
Hospitals across the country are teeming with coronavirus patients, putting a strain on the institutions’ already-limited supply of N95 filtering facepiece respirators and other disposable face masks. Companies like Amazon that are continuing e-commerce operations can’t scare up enough face masks for employees and contractors.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has reportedly ordered 600 million disposable masks (at a cost of $500 million) in hopes of replenishing the Strategic National Stockpile over the next 18 months, ABC News reported. But in the meantime, it’s the tech companies attempting to come to the rescue.
“Facebook donated our emergency reserve of 720,000 masks that we had bought in case the wildfires continued,” Zuckerberg wrote in a recent post. “We’re also working on sourcing millions of more to donate. I hope you’re all staying healthy and safe.”
“Our teams at Apple have been working to help source supplies for healthcare providers fighting COVID-19,” Cook tweeted on Saturday. “To every one of the heroes on the front lines, we thank you.”
Their charity has not gone unnoticed. Theresa Adams, a respiratory therapist in California, personally thanked Zuckerberg for his support. Others chimed in with pleas for Mark and other billionaires to “do more” with their wealth, like provide technology to those in quarantine and donate to research for a cure.
Facebook Messenger, meanwhile, is teaming up with U.S. and UN health agencies to better share timely information and provide automated responses to frequently asked questions. The company also launched an online hackathon aimed at solving issues like social distancing and access to accurate data.