Napa Valley’s Acumen Wines has shipped and donated 12,000 N95 respirator masks to a hospital in Wuhan, China, the epicentre of the Coronavirus crisis and Acumen founder Eric Yuan’s hometown.
The disease known as COVID-19 has reportedly infected more than 76,000 people with the death toll rising beyond 2,200. While the majority of cases have occurred in China, the epidemic has also spread to upwards of two dozen other countries.
‘It was really an idea out of need. Eric lives in Wuhan and he identified that they were going to be running out of masks,’ said Diana Schweiger, Acumen sales and marketing director. ‘It was a necessity and we have the means to supply the need.’
The winery knew where to source the masks – which filter out 95% of particles greater than 0.3 microns in size – having been in the direct path of the 2017 Atlas Peak Fire.
These life-saving masks will protect all medical personnel, scores of which have become infected by treating patients, with the exception of those working in the “red zone,” where patients in severe condition are quarantined and staff are required to wear special protective equipment to enter the rooms.
Shipped to Wuhan Tongji Hospital, one of the largest hospitals in Wuhan, Yuan predicts the masks will serve the entire hospital for at least two days. They cost Acumen $7,000 and another $5,500 to ship them to China.
Finding a way to get the masks to Wuhan was no easy task. Only one company in the United States was shipping medical supplies to China and the closest airport flying planes into the country was Los Angeles. Acumen enlisted assistance from one of their wine carriers to get the masks down south, but once the logistics were figured out, there were still five more days of paperwork.
The masks were finally shipped on 8 February and arrived at the hospital last Friday, 21 February. ‘It was truly an effort of good will for humanity and our brothers and sisters across the globe,’ said Schweiger. ‘It really makes the world much smaller.’
Yuan and his family are safe, but have been under lockdown in their house for about a month. ‘The best way for those of us who are safe and healthy to help curb this virus is to not add any troubles to our hospitals. The government has been organising all kinds of resources including transportation, groceries, and other supplies,’ said Yuan.
In addition to locking the city down to prevent the disease from spreading further, Yuan said the government constructed new emergency hospitals throughout Wuhan and sent in more than 20,000 medical experts from all over China to help.
Translated by Sylvia Wu / 吴嘉溦
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