Bay Area nonprofit donating masks to China amid coronavirus outbreak

SAN LEANDRO, Calif. (KGO) -- The World Health Organization, WHO declared on Friday a global shortage of critically needed N95 masks and isolation gowns so badly needed in China's coronavirus outbreak.

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One Bay Area nonprofit is stepping up to donate a stockpile of 1.8 million procedure masks sitting in MedShare's San Leandro warehouse.

After fires and volcanic eruptions around the world, MedShare had them ready to donate to the next big disaster, and they say that disaster is coronavirus. They are also ready to ship 200,000 plastic isolation gowns.

"We originally had a flight out of Oakland but it got rerouted out of Chicago," Eric Talbert, MedShare's Western Regional Director said. "Thanks to folks at the UPS Foundation, they have a direct flight from Chicago into Shanghai. Once they're on the ground in Shanghai we have three distribution partners who will get them into the hands of people who need them. "

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The N95 masks are as good as gold and hard to find, plus expensive in China. Recently, N95s are in short supply in many Bay Area stores so MedShare has created a coronavirus donation page and will start collecting for a second shipment of specifically N95s next week.

Trucks filled with supplies will leave over the weekend and by Valentine's Day all of it will be in the hands of healthcare workers and residents in China.

You can find MedShare's donation page here.

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