Coronavirus: Thousands of stolen masks donated to local hospitals

Vice president Mike Pence has asked construction companies to donate to hospitals amid a nationwide shortage

James Crump
Monday 23 March 2020 19:03 GMT
Medical teams in China smile as they remove their masks one by one

Thousands of sought-after N95 masks - allegedly stolen by a man from Portland – have been recovered and donated to local hospitals.

According to a report in the Portland Police Bureau, between 20 to 25 cases of the masks, which are used by nurses when treating patients with Covid-19, were stolen from the Rebuilding Centre, a non-profit facility that collects donated unwanted construction materials, located in the Oregon city.

The masks are estimated to be worth $2500 and the police were alerted to their location after the accused thief listed them for sale on Craigslist.

The victim of the theft found what looked like a listing of the masks and set up a meeting with the seller, before alerting the police.

The authorities went to the agreed location and arrested and charged Vladislav Drozdek with theft.

Upon receiving the stolen goods, the victim donated them to local hospitals to help cope with mask shortages.

Assistant Chief of Operations Mike Frome praised the work of his team, while highlighting the pressing need for health supplies, amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“This was a good example of interagency teamwork and cooperation, along with some helpful detective work by the victim,” he said. “This is even more significant during a time when these medical supplies are in such short supply.”

Last week, US vice president Mike Pence asked construction companies to donate N95 masks to hospitals to help ease the load on nurses and doctors, amid the crisis.

“We would make one specific request, and that is we would urge construction companies to donate their inventory of N95 masks to your local hospital and forego additional orders of those industrial masks,” Mr Pence said.

“Those industrial masks that they use on construction sites are perfectly acceptable for healthcare workers to be protected from a respiratory disease.”

According to a tracking project hosted by Johns Hopkins University, upwards of 35,530 people have tested positive in the US. The death toll has reached at least 473.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended a two-week ban on gatherings of more than 50 people as part of the battle to contain the spread of the contagion.

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