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That’s thanks to the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW), which said it located 39 million N95 masks, available for purchase, in the last five days and is now connecting health providers with the respective suppliers.
The union said it has no financial interest in the transactions.
“SEIU-UHW members and health care workers all over California are desperate for more protection, so we are seeking out supplies wherever we can get them,” SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan said in a statement sent to FOX Business, adding that they will "turn over every rock to find more equipment to make sure health care workers, who are heroically putting their own health on the line to care for patients, can do their jobs.”
SEIU-UHW said it launched its search in response to pleas from workers on the front lines of the pandemic, including doctors and nurses. The California-based union has 97,000 members who work in hospitals in the state.
To find the masks and other personal protective equipment, the union called a number of leads within a 48-hour period before finding a distributor that had all 39 million. It said it has since found another that said it can make 20 million more masks in a week.
So far, according to SEIU-UHW, buyers are already purchasing the $5-apiece masks, including the Greater New York Hospital Association and the state of California.
New York-Presbyterian Hospital is burning through 40,000 N95 masks per day, according to one report, and that number could hit 70,000 soon. Meanwhile, officials in Los Angeles County are telling doctors and nurses to reuse face masks and wear expired equipment.