The hoarding N95 respirator masks has had the tragic side effect of escalating a shortage in surgical masks, and while these are two different types of masks, both shortages are driving up infection rates among both civilians and medical personnel. Last week’s AP report that African-Americans are disproportionately dying of COVID-19 infections was based on state data from Michigan, places like California and San Francisco do not include racial data in their regularly updated coronavirus numbers. (SF announced today it would add some demographic numbers — though not necessarily racial data — in a data tracker "very soon.") But it seems pretty obvious that black and brown communities are in particularly vulnerable spots.
The two unfolding tragedies of supply shortages and infections in communities of color are the inspiration for tonight’s Masks for the People online fundraiser, to be held on W. Kamau Bell’s Instagram page, and aims to raise $1 million to supply masks and more black and brown communities facing shortages.
“100% of your donation will go to support providing FREE masks, hand sanitizer and testing kits for the incarcerated, formerly incarcerated, violence interrupters, elderly in our community, and most vulnerable black and brown loved ones in urban and rural communities,” the event says in an announcement picked up by KQED.
Bay Area comedian W. Kamau Bell is hosting the event and welcoming a number of household names, but this is not exactly a “comedy jam.” Among those scheduled to pop in are Warriors coach Steve Kerr and Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza, and dozens of activists, doctors, and journalists. Berkeley activist Pastor Mike McBride is co-hosting with Bell.
Per KQED, McBride projects a successful $1 million fundraiser will provide “250,000 N95 masks, one million surgical masks and about 50,000 gallons of hand sanitizer.”
The fundraising page for this effort does not show totals raised yet, so it’s unclear how much of a head start the Live Free campaign has here. But the ambitious goal of a million bucks in one night may in fact be met, after all, W. Kamau Bell has friends in high places.
Related: SF Turns Moscone Center and Palace of Fine Arts Into Homeless Shelters; Supes Decry Subpar Conditions [SFist]
Image: W. Kamua Bell via Twitter (Left), Keith Allison via Wikimedia Commons (Right)