Apple CEO Says the Company is Donating “millions” of Masks to Healthcare Workers
Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted on Saturday that the company was donating “millions of masks for health professionals in the US and Europe,” to help combat the spread of the novel coronavirus. Cook’s tweet confirms a statement made earlier by US Vice President Mike Pence.
Pence said at a White House press briefing, “The president and I literally heard directly from Apple that they’re donating 2 million industrial masks to this effort around the country and working with our administration to distribute those.”
Globally, masks are in high demand, but supplies are running low. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in a note to employees Saturday that “masks remain in short supply globally.” The company has “placed purchase orders for millions of face masks we want to give to our employees and contractors who cannot work from home, but very few of those orders have been filled,” Bezos wrote.
N95 respirators are disposable, close-fitting masks that can keep virus-laden droplets away from the wearer’s mouth and nose. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that the masks’ effectiveness is “highly dependent upon proper fit and use.” Pence said Saturday that the Department of Health and Human Services “placed an order for hundreds of millions of N95 masks,” with the order coordinated through the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Where the masks were ordered from and when they would be available wasn’t clear from Pence’s remarks. The shortage of personal protective equipment like face masks has become a serious problem for healthcare workers, with some resorting to using less-effective masks or even going without while treating patients. Last week, Pence called on construction companies to donate their protective masks to hospitals, and to refrain from ordering more. “Those industrial masks that they use on construction sites are perfectly acceptable for healthcare workers to be protected from a respiratory disease,” the vice president said at a briefing on Tuesday.