From the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face masks, gloves, gowns, and ventilators, has been in very short supply. As of May 2020, the shortage is still being felt across the country, with hospitals, outpatient clinics, and skilled nursing facilities continuing to request PPE donations.
In order to meet the demand, a wide range of groups, organizations, and individuals have stepped up to craft, donate, and contribute. Whether you’re in need or looking to give, there are a number of ways to get involved. Here’s your guide on how to get and give PPE.
How to get PPE
For essential workers
GetUsPPE is a grassroots coalition whose mission is to serve as a nationwide database and facilitator for PPE requests, donations, and volunteers. Employees of hospitals, clinics, homeless shelters, nursing homes, supported living facilities, correctional facilities, and more can request PPE donations with their online form.
Healthcare professionals can also sign up with Find the Masks, an international directory that handles PPE requests for Level I Trauma Centers and other healthcare facilities around the US, Puerto Rico and other countries such as England, and India.
If you’re an individual healthcare worker looking for face masks or respirators, you can submit requests at Mask Match, a network linking donated PPE to the frontline workers who need them.
PPE for yourself and your loved ones
Given the urgent need for PPE, most organizations are understandably focused on providing supplies for healthcare professionals. However, as states and cities begin to ease lockdown, it’s critical to have what we need in order to protect ourselves and others.
There are a few ways to get supplies without depriving frontline workers of the equipment they need. The best option is to make your own face masks, which not only enables you to equip yourself, but also gives you the opportunity to donate once you get going.
If you’re not the crafty type, or if you’re looking for a quicker solution, consider purchasing masks from a company that is giving back.
How to give PPE
If you are the crafty type, or if you just have some supplies at home that you’d like to give, there are a number of ways to get your extra PPE into the right hands.
Find the Makers—the other side of Find the Masks—lets you link up with “maker groups” to coordinate donations, exchange supplies, and be a part of a team of givers. Another alternative is finding a mutual aid group near you. These groups are often looking for PPE to give to their elderly or immunocompromised neighbors, and even small donations go a long way.
Other organizations like Fashion for the Frontlines—coalitions of volunteers, designers, and craftspeople—provide templates and patterns on their websites for everything from face masks to isolation gowns, delivering the supplies to your door so you can get cutting, sewing, and crafting.
The American Hospital Association has also launched the 100 Million Mask Challenge, a call to action for hospitals, manufacturers, and enterprising individuals to donate, create, and contribute however they can to meet the need for PPE.
And whether you’re an individual with a small stash or a business with a stock of PPE, you can try GetUsPPE to get supplies to wherever they’re most needed.
Other ways to help
If you don’t have extra PPE, or if you lack the resources to make them, there are still plenty of ways you can lend a hand.
Donations made to the Promise Society all go toward providing PPE for healthcare workers in high-need areas. If you want to be a little more selective, Protect the Heroes allows you to search by city and state for facilities to donate to.
For a more “boots on the ground” approach, volunteer opportunities are also available at Masks for NY, as well as the aforementioned Fashion for the Frontlines and GetUsPPE. They’re looking for drivers, writers, social media marketers, engineers, community organizers, and more to help with their mission and spread the word. No matter your talent or availability, there are many ways to support these organizations as they work to meet the demand for PPE.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge, but the number of people stepping up to do good and lend a hand is proof that not only will we get through this, but we’ll get through it stronger and more connected than ever.