Nearly one million facemasks were delivered to a warehouse in Newark today, and some of these could soon be on their way to Delaware healthcare workers.
A Delaware distributor of protective clothing received a truckload of 900,000 ear-loop face masks, safety gear that will fill orders with health-care providers and others on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis.
All masks are FDA approved and certified, and more are on the way.
George Gianforcaro, president of Indutex USA, made the delivery to Newark’s D&S Warehouse this morning, saying it was one of four major shipments his company will receive over the coming days, including a shipment of 1.2 million earloop masks they will receive tomorrow.
Not all facemasks are earmarked for Delaware. Gianforcaro says his firm has yet to receive any purchase orders from supply chain officers at local hospitals and health industry firms. Once those are confirmed, he says he can immediately begin to supply Delaware customers.
“Usually it’s first come, first served. But today I’m putting Delaware at the head of the line because they haven’t gotten any yet,” said Gianforcaro today.
Facemasks are in such short supply in Delaware that some hospitals have asked workers there to wear them for days in a row.
The Middletown Transcript reports that Bayhealth staff who work with patients are given one mask and “a brown paper bag” on Fridays, and they are to keep and use the same mask until the following Friday, “unless it becomes wet, soiled or exposed to a COVID-19 positive patient.” And the newspaper reports that at Beebe Healthcare’s hospital in Lewes, employees are using face masks for up to five days.
Since the coronavirus outbreak commenced about a month ago, Indutex has shipped 15 million facemasks to states such as Louisiana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Utah.
Next week 500,000 of the coveted N95 NIOSH approved respirators will also make their way to Delaware.
Gianforcaro, whose wife is a nurse at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, said the shipments were made possible due to a long-standing relationship with his overseas distributor. Indutex sells and distributes clothing designed to protect against chemical, biological, and particulate radioactive contamination.
Gianforcaro anticipates future shipments of COVID-19 test kits, isolation gowns, face shields, goggles, respirators, and related PPE.
He was joined this morning by U.S. Sen. Chris Coons who conveyed Gianforcaro’s offer to provide masks and other equipment to organizations like ChristianaCare looking to replenish their stocks.
The two used to work together at W.L. Gore and Associates.
“If it wasn’t for my relationship with Chris … I picked up the phone and I texted him, and I said, ‘Chris, I just sold 20 million masks to other parts of the United States, why can’t we keep the masks here?'” Gianforcaro recounted. “Chris quickly replied, ‘I’ll get you in touch with someone immediately,’ and that was about two or three days ago.”
Coons cited the small-state Delaware connection that made the delivery possible.
“We actually got to know each other well through his wife, who is a nurse at the children’s hospital and the younger sister of my best friend from high school. George has been delivering literally millions of these airlift masks and now also N95 masks, and I’m trying to work with George to make sure Delaware also receives some of this. But the vast majority of it is going to hotspots like New York City like northern New Jersey,” said Coons.
Coons added that he thinks the federal government needs to establish a coordinated effort in terms of prioritization of personal protective equipment (PPE’s).
In the past two days, Coons connected Gianforcaro with the Delaware Department of Emergency Management (DEMA) and Governor John Carney to help facilitate the delivery of masks to Delaware hospitals and other managed health care facilities.