Nearly six months after the coronavirus prompted a health and humanitarian crisis, shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) continue to persist.
Such shortages—which include face masks, protective gowns and gloves—are reportedly greater in communities of color and vulnerable communities, both of which have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus. What’s more, after months of enhanced safety measures, budgets of local nonprofits and health centers are stretched thin, and the ongoing costs of securing PPE is not likely to lessen any time soon.
Take, for example, Haven for Hope, a San Antonio-based nonprofit that serves about 2,400 individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness. The organization saw its inventory of PPE fall to a one-week supply. “Without this gear, safeguarding our employees and volunteers, as well as the people we help get back on their feet, becomes extremely difficult,” says Kenny Wilson, Haven for Hope’s chief executive officer.
Face coverings continue to be one of the most important preventive measures, yet it is still difficult to source them. Recognizing the problems this posed in local communities, Mike Curran, Local Markets organization executive at Bank of America, knew a way the Bank could help.
Curran tapped the Bank’s extensive community relationships to identify local partners that serve vulnerable populations to help distribute face masks. The masks are provided to low-income families, the elderly, communities of color disproportionately affected by the virus, and the frontline workers, schools and community and health centers that serve them.
An initial distribution of four million masks is helping 25 communities around the country better prevent infection, with millions more masks set to be delivered to another 66 locales. Haven for Hope was one of the recipients, receiving a shipment of 50,000 of masks. Local volunteers from Bank of America helped pack and distribute hygiene kits that included the masks. “The coronavirus has disrupted how we serve San Antonio’s homeless population,” says Wilson. “So getting supplies to help continue that service has had a big impact.”
The mask distribution further supports the Bank’s four-year, $1 billion commitment to drive racial equality and economic opportunity, with a particular focus on people and communities of color.
Learn more about how Bank of America is helping local communities manage and mitigate the impact the coronavirus is having on their most vulnerable residents.