Apple will donate nine million N95 protective masks to help protect medical staff from contracting the coronavirus.
Vice President Mike Pence said that Apple is one of several tech companies based in California that are helping hospitals across the nation deal with a reported shortage of protective gear – especially N95 face masks.
Facebook, IBM, Salesforce and Tesla are have said they too will also donate masks.
‘I spoke today, and the president spoke last week, with Tim Cook of Apple. And at this moment in time Apple went to their store houses and is donating nine million N95 masks to healthcare facilities all across the country and to the national stockpile,’ Pence said at a press conference on Tuesday.
Although the tech companies don’t produce the masks themselves, either because of coincidence or because they have access to certain supply chains, they are able to source the equipment in a way the government cannot.
The details are not clear on exactly how a company such as Apple has access to the masks, but it is possibly because the tech giant has relationships that the federal government does not.
‘There is a risk in relying on corporate philanthropy — rather than the government — in solving this problem. For starters, it depends on the voluntary generosity of these companies to deal with an unprecedented emergency, an altruism that could vanish at any time,’ Teddy Schleifer, a reporter at Recode, wrote.
The mask shortage has been a major problem as doctors attempt to contain the coronavirus.
Some doctors and nurses have said they have had to reuse gear with some taking to social media to beg for supplies.
Even nine million will not be enough. New York City’s Presbyterian Hospital, said that it was using more than 40,000 masks a day and anticipates that it could rise to 70,000 per day.
Salesforce CEO, Marc Benioff, has said that the company hopes to deliver five million masks this week by ‘working hard across all of our resources & relationships.’
On Tuesday, Elon Musk, entrepreneur and CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, also received praise for delivering over 1,000 ventilators to a California hospital to help with the treatment of patients with COVID-19.
The billionaire also delivered 50,000 face masks to the Seattle home of a University of Washington physician on Sunday.
Despite repeatedly downplaying the severity of the coronavirus, Musk promised last week that he would procure ventilators to help with the shortage that is predicted across the United States.
He has also said on Twitter that he could use the Tesla factory to produce more ventilators to help meet growing demand in US hospitals.
Musk’s gesture came as automaker giant Ford revealed Tuesday that it expects to be able to send new ventilators to hospitals by early June. The motor company is working with GE Healthcare as it steps up to provide the vital pieces of equipment.
Musk was also praised for sending 50,000 N95 surgical masks to Dr. Kristina Adams Waldorf in Seattle on Sunday just a day after she was contacted by a friend about the available masks.
A physician friend at UCLA whose brother works at Tesla called Adams Waldorf knowing that the Seattle area is in dire need of protective equipment, having been the first center of the outbreak in the United States.
‘It was just so, so fast,’ Adams Waldorf, who is starting s series of COVID-19-related research projects, told the Seattle Times.
‘I was told: ‘The truck is on the dock. They just need an address right now, no questions asked.’ I didn’t have the address for the supply-chain manager or a phone number. So I gave them mine.’