Personal Protective Equipment for America

The United States is experiencing a severe shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as the coronavirus pandemic surges on. Nurses are treating patients in trash bags. Doctors are wearing single-use surgical masks five days in a row.

Meanwhile, there are MILLIONS of masks in China.

I’m a supply chain expert and chief operating officer of a food company I co-founded five years ago. I sell my products to Walmart, Costco, Kroger, and thousands of other grocery stores. I have years of experience in buying and importing materials from China.

What is happening right now is a disgrace. 

I am confused, saddened and pissed off that there is a PPE shortage. We are the richest country in the world. For the price of a single cruise missile we could have stockpiled over 5 millions masks. That’s a travesty. I’m pretty sure America has never feared a shortage of cruise missiles. 

Day after day, I assumed this problem would be solved by people smart enough to call up Chinese factories, negotiate a price, import them to America, and send them to healthcare facilities in need.

But this is not happening as fast as it should.  

My honest assessment is that hospitals are too scared to directly buy new materials from abroad. Chinese factories are demanding aggressive payment terms to reduce their risk. Masks are being seized by the US Customs. Fear, mistrust, ineptitude and ignorance are interacting with a once-in-a-lifetime crisis.

We as private citizens can make a dent in this problem. 

I’ve identified several large suppliers of N95, KN95s masks, surgical masks and face shields that I believe I can import expeditiously to the United States. 

My plan is to donate them to health care facilities in need. In the event that I can sell them at cost so that I can buy more masks, I’ll do that. 

Let me be clear: I'm not trying to make a penny here. I just need your help. Money is still the key resource to getting the masks from China so we can get them to hospitals in need. 

Here’s what I’ve figured out we need to do: 

Raise $50,000
Buy the masks we can ship the fastest to the United States
Identify the hospitals, nursing homes, and front line facilities most in need
Donate the masks or sell them at cost if the facilities can afford them
Rinse and repeat

My biggest regret is that I didn’t do this weeks ago. It may seem like we are late to the game -- we are--but it could be a longer game than we anticipate. I don’t want to repeat the mistakes of the past. Let’s not accept this incompetence any longer. Let’s get the masks we need!
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Jesse Koltes
Brooklyn, NY

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