Guest Commentary: Local Heroes in Masks

Stories of how Davisites stepped up as Federal Government fell short


By Alan Hirsch

I write this first to thank the many Davisites who have donated over 200 N-95 medical grade masks by dropping them at my front door.

I have conveyed them to local Davis doctors, including one of which works in ER.

I also want to share heartwarming…and also troubling feedback I have gotten from these doctors.  There has not been any reported on local impact of shortages in PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) resulting from the Federal Government’s mismanagement of this crisis.  I hope this begins to fill in the blanks and puncture the illusion of we live in a “Davis bubble” above partisan politics of Washington.

To begin, neighbors have donated via my front door medical grade N-95 masks after I post a call on NextDoor 25 days ago. People choosing to selflessly give them to doctors instead of retaining them to protect themselves.  I got lots 1 or 2 masks at a time, or at times even full boxes of 10 and 20 of them. Masks purchased for next wildfire season, to deal with allergies, or to protect from dust in their home workshops.

Some masks were left anonymously at my front door, but others had attached notes thanking the unseen doctors and nurses who ultimately will get them. “Love you guys,” “Thanks for being on the front lines.” “My trip to Peru was canceled, you need these now,” or just a simple heart drawn on a post-it.

I also got text messages back from the local Davis doctors appreciating the masks.

I present these feedback messages in chronological order beginning early in March as they tell a story.

*   *   *   *

The story begins a month ago, before the shutdown when I offered an ER doctor friend a box of masks I had bought when Hibbert’s closed.  He thought they had they had the PPE mask situation covered.  But two days later he texted me:

“How many N-95’s do you have? We are running out at work and are reusing now.”

A few day later I saw him with two big boxes in the back on his car. He told me “These are some masks I found in a farm supply store in Woodland. They let us have their entire stock.”

After conveying another donation from a neighbor, he wrote:
“Very helpful and likely to save lives.”

Then, “Got the 15 masks you left. These N-95 are gold to us.”

“Thanks for 10 more. They will protect our staff during intubations. You made our director’s day.”

Another Davis doctor I gave some to wrote: “The masks really help a lot and not just physically. Knowing neighbors are looking out for us means so much. Peace.”

He then wrote about his wife, the nurse: “Her office’s supply was taken for the use of the ER so she is greatly appreciative of these.”

The first doctor then wrote: “I dropped off two at a rural hospital and they cried and waved.”

Yesterday, 4/8, from an ER doctor: “Thank you very much. FEMA took away all masks from our supplier last week so people like you are what we have left to deal with. We are wearing garbage bags etc.   News is not accurate that we have enough in California.”

+  +   +   +

If you have any unused N-95 (or P-95) grade masks, or a box of nitrile gloves. give them to a doctor or nurse you know…or drop them by my home at 1711 Redwood Lane near the high school. I assure you they will be put to good use.  Wash your hands if  have to touch them…and only handle by the edges. And why not add a note of appreciation, too?

They may save lives of some neighbors, local doctors and nurses.

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Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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