Essentia donating 20,000 masks to local organizations

Ryan Juntti
Updated: July 14, 2020 11:15 PM

As COVID-19 cases are increasing across the Northland, health officials are continuing to urge the public to wear masks. Essentia Health is stepping in to make sure everyone is covered, donating 20,000 masks to Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank, and the Duluth NAACP.

“We had a really tough spot a couple of months ago when we at the hospital didn’t have enough masks of any kind," said Essentia Health Emergency Medicine Physician Dr. Andrea Boehland.

But then the community stepped in to help, donating around 14,000 cloth masks to Essentia.

“We at Essentia are so grateful to the Northland for providing all of those cloth masks that you guys made for us in our need," Boehland said.

Now they want to repay the favor, donating procedure masks they purchased.

“I think this is a nice way for Essentia to say 'thank you for the support that you gave us when we really needed masks. Now community, you really need masks, here are some from us to you,' ” said Boehland.

One of the organizations benefiting from the mask donation is Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank. They are expected to receive 10,000 masks this week.

"We want to make sure that participants now coming to see us have access to a mask, so it’ll keep us safe, our staff safe, and our volunteers safe,” said Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank Executive Director Shaye Moris.

As we are all dealing with the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, Moris says the additional supply will help them prepare for anything to come.

“In the early days of COVID masks were really hard to find, so we scrambled to find whatever we could. To have an abundance now makes us feel comfortable going into the latter part of the year not knowing what could happen with COVID, that we’ll be protected, our participants will be protected and those who help us provide our service," said Moris.

The Duluth NAACP says the mask donations will help them increase their supply for their mask drives, but won't impact the amount of drives they hold.

Boehland says the procedure masks Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank and the Duluth NAACP are receiving are a step up from cloth masks.

Boehland says after wearing them, users should store the mask in a paper bag for five days before reusing them because COVID-19 germs will die in that amount of time.


Ryan Juntti

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