by Kyle Olson
The Service Employees International Union said it has located 39 million N95 masks and will be facilitating the sale of them to healthcare providers.
The union launched an exhaustive search for masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) five days ago in response to pleas from frontline healthcare workers that they need more protection and feel unsafe on the job as they treat the growing number of COVID-19 patients. SEIU-UHW has 97,000 members who work in hospitals across California.
Within 48 hours of painstakingly calling leads and potential suppliers, the union discovered a distributor who had the 39 million masks, and has since found another supplier who says his company can produce 20 million more masks a week. The union also has found a supplier who can deliver millions of face shields.
The union said it will be selling the masks to states, counties and hospitals for $5 apiece and claims it “has no financial interest in the transactions.”
Similar N95 masks are available on the Home Depot website for $23.97 for a box of 20, or about $1.20 apiece.