By KERRY SMITH, EDITOR, ST. LOUIS CONSTRUCTION NEWS AND REVIEW MAGAZINE
Construction companies in St. Louis and nationwide are preparing to respond to Vice President Mike Pence’s request on March 17 to donate N95 respirator masks to local healthcare organizations for use by medical professionals on the front lines as they treat patients stricken with the coronavirus.
On Tuesday, the vice president called upon construction companies across the U.S. to quickly inventory and estimate the number of N95 masks they’ll need for their own workers and to donate the extras, which are in short supply.
N95 face masks, readily worn by drywall contractors, painters and other construction workers, snugly fit the face and provide efficient filtration of airborne particles.
“We would urge construction companies to donate inventory of N95 masks to your local hospital and forgo additional orders,” said Pence during a White House press briefing Tuesday morning. The vice president is heading the White House’s coronavirus task force. “These industrial masks, used on construction sites, are perfectly acceptable for healthcare workers to be protected from a respiratory disease,” he added.
Many contractors are currently scouring their construction trailers, headquarters buildings and elsewhere for excess masks.
According to Engineering News-Record, Suffolk Construction Company in Boston is donating more than 1,250 masks to the Mass General Brigham hospital network there.
In the St. Louis region, Holland Construction Services is rounding up N95 respiratory masks to donate to local assisted living centers.
HCS President Mike Marchal said Safety Director Doug Devlin is leading the effort. “One of our senior living clients made a call for help to all its contractors nationwide since its business is on the front lines of keep safe those who are most susceptible to coronavirus,” said Marchal. “With the shortage of N95 masks throughout the country, we’re happy to share ours with them during this time of need.”
Poettker Construction Company is also donating 100 N95 masks to healthcare centers.