Bethenny Frankel, 49, has leaped in to help medical workers get basic personal protective equipment [ppe] by purchasing and donating N95 face masks that they can wear while treating patients with COVID-19. Frankel, the former Real Housewives of New York City star had already been putting together corona survival kits with important essentials to donate when she realized the most critical necessity was face masks so she now has donated a whopping 450,000 medical masks to medical workers who are working hard to help stop the spread of the virus so far.
“Several days ago, I said to my partner we are making and distributing corona kits, which are for hydration boost, immunity boost and hand sanitizer gel, so people don’t get gouged, as well as cash cards for the impoverished whose kids can’t be in school… but I pivoted and added to that when I realized that the masks were going to be a crisis” she EXCLUSIVELY told HollywoodLife on Mar. 21. “Because the idea of a doctor or a nurse who is risking their life and not to mention firefighters, and police officers, and people working at Publix and Kroger and Whole Foods, and all those people that are interacting with people all day, they all don’t have masks. But on the forefront, the medical workers that are going in to intentionally interact with people with the worst crisis that we have ever seen in our lifetime, not having masks, being told to recycle masks, wash their masks, is a horror show.”
Bethenny admitted she was “ahead of the curve” when she began her mission of locating and donating masks because of what she’d been hearing from certain professionals like those from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). “The former head of FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) said about FEMA, ‘They need to just go get what they need and worry about it later. Pay for it later.’ So I said, ‘I just got to go wire money and start ordering masks because this is going to be the problem’,” she explained. “And they have to be N95, they have to be medical grade certified masks. They’re not bras, they’re not made from fashion designers. That may be good for a postal worker who’s not dealing with a patient or someone who’s working at a supermarket, but for medical personnel, they need to have the proper medical masks.”
All the info about Bethenny’s new mission in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak and donation opportunities can be found on BStrong, the charity she created to help others in times of crisis such as natural disasters and now COVID-19.
Bethenny’s plans for the masks took a lot of effort and she went on to describe exactly how the process unfolded and what hospitals she’s already donated to. “I have a place in Boston with my boyfriend so we started with Mass General, a subsidiary of Newton Wellesley Hospital,” she said. “And we talked to their president who said that they’ll go through an astronomical number in a month, so we donated 10,000 masks to them. And then I went to UCLA and Cedars-Sinai through Maria Menounos, and we donated 10,000 masks to them. And then NYU where I went to school, and where New York is the epicenter tracking to be the next Wuhan, China, but even worse because they don’t wear masks like they did in China. And so then I donated 10,000 to them. And then I heard today on Fox and Friends that Mount Sinai had already run out of masks. So I dedicated 5,000 masks to them. And then this took fire.”
She’s been ordering the masks directly from manufacturers, according to her charity’s website. “We have sourced Medical grade FDA approved mask manufactures from China to Israel and we can support tens of millions of orders if proper funding is allocated,” a statement on BStrong reads. “We have an MOU with each big donor or group and how many masks they want to fund and have sent to their desired hospital or clinic. We are not making any money off of this unlike most shark middle men trying to cash in on this disaster. We work directly with the manufacturing plants.”
Bethenny has also connected with MedStar, which she tweeted about. “They have over 120 clinical operations, 10 hospitals. They have over 5,000 doctors working in urgent medical, etc.” she said. “So we just worked with them to earmark masks and surgical gowns for them. So we are using the money that we’re raising through the community for all of the smaller hospitals, shelters, and elderly homes that are calling, and tracking where they all are to get them money. So that’s all going to be the general fund.”
The coronavirus, which started in Wuhan, China in December, has infected a total of 318,776 people worldwide so far, including 26,909 Americans, of which 396 have died. Governors like Andrew Cuomo of New York and Jay Inslee of Washington, have been sounding the alarm for the critical need of masks and ventilators for days now but they aren’t receiving help from the federal government, making Bethenny’s work even more vital. Governor Inslee took action to stop retail stores like Target in Washington state from selling medical masks to regular customers since it takes away from the inventory for medical professionals and Governor Cuomo is still working on getting help on the federal government level.
“The states simply cannot manage it,” Cuomo said about hospitals needing more medical supplies during a press conference on Mar. 22. “States all across the country can’t handle it. Certainly, the states that are dealing with the highest case load can’t handle it. And that’s why I believe the federal government should take over that function of contracting and acquiring all of the medical supplies that we need.”
It’s crucial that doctors and medical staff wear masks while in the hospitals because if they were to get sick with coronavirus, it would be an even bigger risk of spreading it and/or not having enough professionals to help with the other people infected. “The masks are like a swollen insane desperation that you cannot imagine,” Bethenny told HL. “I can’t tell you how many messages I get. I have four people assisting me just to field and talk to everybody and make them feel connected to something. And that I am hearing them. It is outrageous. People working in stores that are cashiers feeling totally screwed over by their employers because they are working so people can get food and they don’t have masks on. I mean it’s really very, very scary. They’re just panicked because they know the numbers and they’re reusing masks. What’s going to happen if we get sick, if our relatives get sick, if our kids get sick, and the doctors are all sick?”