The novel coronavirus pandemic is perhaps the single most daunting threat that humanity has faced in recent history. The disease’s exponential spread and the ubiquity of risk set this apart from anything else the medical establishment has seen in modern times. A growing body count and finger-pointing have people on edge across the globe.
Today’s political landscape testifies to the fact that even when faced with a danger of incredible magnitude, our differences divide us. A report from Newsday shares the story of a doctor who showed up to treat COVID-19 patients dressed in makeshift protective gear, including a shower cap to cover his head, a basic mask, and the plastic lid from a take out meal to cover his face.
While the doctor underscores the fact that he often tries to lighten the mood by humor, the situation is somber: The United States healthcare system is not prepared to deal with crises of this nature. Regardless of mainstream media portrayals, shortages of supplies abound. Saying the system is stretched too thin and urgently needs assistance is an understatement.
It may be natural to focus on the negative, but a time like this calls for solidarity and cooperation to find a solution and save as many lives as possible. President Trump recently passed into action powers that can force manufacturers to produce items that the government deems necessary, but why is such a measure necessary?
It is sad, to say the least, that the president must exercise such powers before most manufacturers will step up. However, corporate apathy is not always the case. Elon Musk’s Tesla produced thousands of ventilators instead of vehicles, and legendary designer Naeem Khan shifted his production from fashion gowns and other attire to masks for healthcare workers.
Khan, whose clothing has been worn by famous figures such as Michelle Obama, Kate Middleton, and Queen Noor of Jordan, has now gone full force into manufacturing the masks, which are being donated by the thousands. The first sets of masks will be given to New York, the hardest hit with the novel coronavirus.
Zainab Khan, president of The Muslim American Leadership Alliance (MALA) is helping to coordinate these efforts. Kahn observed her husband, a physician who works with the doctor mentioned by Newsday, risking his life to help others lacking in personal protective equipment. It reminded her that there are thousands of people on the front lines of this crisis, and the only way we are going to beat this is by coming together.
Kal Loul, the founder of tech company Global Geeks and a member of the MALA board of directors, has also committed to providing masks. This will bring the organization’s mask donation grand total to over 5,000.
The environmentally safe, customized masks are made with a hemp fabric that has antibacterial properties and is lined with a microfilter. Each mask has a pocket for a disposable filter that can be washed. It took Naeem Khan less than one week to make such an impact. Imagine what could happen if the rest of us set politics aside and focused on getting through this together.
The masks will also be donated to the Long Island Community Hospital and to medical care facilities in San Diego. Richard Margulis, president and CEO of Long Island Community Hospital, expressed gratitude for these acts of solidarity:
“We are following every lead to obtain more PPE and have been so grateful to receive community donations. This demonstrates that we are all community right now.”