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“The Farewell” Director Lulu Wang And More Are Bringing Necessary Face Masks To The Frontlines

by Kim Small

As the nation tries to contend with the fallout of COVID-19, hospital personnel and doctors have been vocal about the shortages of vital medical supplies they’re experiencing. Medical professionals are tasked with making life or death choices in this unprecedented time. The lack of resources has been forcing many on the front lines to further endanger themselves. Some reports show that medical professionals have to reuse masks that should be getting tossed out after each use. This desperate time should be a clear indicator to Trump to invoke the Defense Production Act, an order that would require businesses to produce far more critical supplies that those working in hospitals and clinics are quite literally begging for.

Many Democratic politicians have been calling on Trump to issue the mandate that would aid in a more streamlined approach to fighting coronavirus. Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo has been outspoken about the severe need the state has: New York City currently has the largest population of infected individuals in the country, and the city’s hospitals are reaching a disastrous tipping point. As of right now, the Trump administration is failing to provide not just New York City but the country as a whole with the necessary tools.

In contrast to Trump’s lack of urgency, every day people and celebrities alike are banding together to offer their help and support in any way they can. Last week, director Lulu Wang (The Farewell, 2019) tweeted out to her followers, calling on them to share any unopened masks they might’ve had to donate to the medical staff at an L.A. hospital. In an interview with Slate, Wang spoke about what inspired her to take on this task, citing that is was her friend’s sister who works in an emergency room who disclosed the nightmarish circumstances on the frontlines of this pandemic.



The tweet was shared and liked and, this past weekend, Wang collected 1,000 masks and gloves. Through this kind of grassroots organizing, Wang has now been able to set up three more donation drop-off sites.

When asked how much longer she expects to keep these medical supplies collections going, Wang said, “I think it depends on how we do this week with the drop-off. But I think that there’s starting to be better systems in place. I’ve heard that hospitals themselves are starting to set up donation drop-off.”

Wang isn’t alone in offering relief wherever or however possible. Many celebrities like Rihanna and Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds have donated money for coronavirus relief.

Also helping with the need for masks is fashion designer Christian Siriano, who is known most famously for winning Project Runaway and creating looks that have made headlines on red carpets. Now, he’s lending his talent to the relief effort, volunteering to create masks in New York City. After Siriano tweeted that he was interested in creating more masks, Governor Cuomo immediately reached out.



Siriano’s team has been hard at work making masks remotely from home and inside his New York studio. Siriano has been sharing updates on their progress on his social media accounts, offering insight into his team’s efforts. Though Siriano said his team has to follow certain guidelines when creating the masks, he claims his are an improvement from the single-use ones because they can be washed and bleached. As of Wednesday, Siriano’s team produced almost 1,000 masks in just three days.


If you happen to have spare masks to donate or you are a healthcare worker in need, check out Mask Match to easily give (or sign up to receive) emergency medical supplies.

Header image: Tonik/Unsplash

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