Emerging as the eye of the storm for the nation’s COVID-19 outbreak, New York City is currently facing a critical shortage of protective gear for hospital staff working with infected patients. The N-95 masks are in particularly high demand, as they filter out all but five percent of airborne particles, according to the CDC.
Realizing the severity of this situation, AZ Painting head Indrit Gjata and Sherwin Williams location manager Philippe Chahinian made a point to get the coveted respirators into the hands of local medical personnel.
“They’re on the front lines,” said Chahinian. “All of us want masks, but who really needs them? The people who are coming into contact with this every day. We got our shipment and we wanted to do the right thing.”
Both companies have regular access to N-95 respirators, as they are commonly used for woodworking and sanding painted surfaces.
Gjata says he has donated nearly 300 masks during the city’s escalating coronavirus crisis, including those he delivered to elderly customers so they could be protected while running essential errands like grocery shopping.
“Even though I live in Glendale, most of my business is in Forest Hills, Kew Gardens and Rego Park,” he said. “So I wanted to give back to the community.”
Sherwin Williams has been doing its part in the neighborhood as well, sending a 120-mask supply to the 112th Precinct, in addition to accommodating local doctors and nurses who stop by requesting respirators.
The store also set aside 795 masks on Friday specifically for Elmhurst Hospital, which lost 13 patents to the virus in one day and is in desperate need of supplies.
“We’re more than just a paint store,” explained Chahinian. “We want to do right by the community and let them know we are here for them.
“The donations only make a little bit of a dent,” he continued, “but if everyone did a little bit it would be tremendous.”