As hospitals around the country face a shortage of personal protective equipment to fight the new coronavirus, the University of Maryland, College Park is delivering N95 respirators and surgical face masks to the state university’s medical system in Baltimore, President Wallace D. Loh announced Monday.
The state’s flagship university discovered the face masks in emergency stockpiles stored more than 15 years ago during the avian flu pandemic, officials said.
The 12,000 N95 respirators and 12,000 surgical masks will be provided to the University of Maryland Medical System for health care workers fighting to save those infected by COVID-19, according to the university.
As of Friday, the university’s Fischell Department of Bioengineering had collected 14,650 pairs of gloves, 2,660 surgical masks, 102 disposable lab coats, 59 N95 masks, 100 shoe covers, 17 pairs of goggles, 200 conical test tubes, 320 coveralls, 500 hair covers and 18 gallons of ethanol, the university said.
More than 15 labs, including bioengineering, biology, physics, animal sciences, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering and the Nanocenter donated needed medical supplies to hospitals in Prince George’s County and Baltimore, the university said.
Even the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center’s Scene Shop’s six boxes of N95 masks and about 40 boxes of protective gloves went to a hospital: Walter Reed Military Medical Center in Bethesda.
“When something big like this is going on, everybody is figuring out what they can do to help,” said Reuven Goren, the scene shop’s coordinator, who uses protective gear like masks and gloves to build sets and props.
The university libraries’ conservation department donated an additional 250 N95 respirator masks along with gloves and cover garments to the University Health Center. The equipment had been kept on hand as part of its disaster response protocol, in the event books and other library materials needed saving.
The university’s Department of Animal and Avian Sciences is hoping to lend to a hospital a ventilator that had been used for humans for several years before being acquired by the department to be used on swine, officials said.
A shortage of the devices is expected as COVID-19 cases overwhelm U.S. hospitals. Veterinarian and instructor Angela Black said she never had a chance to use her department’s ventilator on animals.
"I glanced at it and thought, ‘Oh my God, we should donate that,’” Black said in a news release.