The New York Irish community is mobilizing in the face of coronavirus by launching the "Irish-American Meitheal In Support of Healthcare" fundraising and donation efforts.
Update, April 1: The Aisling Irish Center on McLean Avenue in Yonkers, New York said today that they will be open to collect donations on Friday, April 3.
Donations of the following are needed:
- N95 or N99 masks (commonly used in construction)
- Tyvek Suits: hooded "bunny" suits or non-hooded variety
- Gloves, rubber or nitrile
- Face shields
- Any cleaning wipes or liquid that is 70% alcohol or above
- Bleach or bleach-based cleaning products
- Anything specifically labeled as viricidal
The Aisling Irish Center are proud to support Brian McCabe and Sophie Colgan in their search for protective equipment ...Publiée par Aisling Irish Community Center sur Mercredi 1 avril 2020
Irish and Irish Americans local to New York City are joining together in collecting and organizing both funds and equipment for hospitals and healthcare workers amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
The effort has been launched in the spirit of meitheal, an Irish tradition that sees a team of workers, usually neighbors, banding together to help a neighbor in need.
Organizers of the "Irish-American Meitheal In Support of Healthcare" are seeking donations via a GoFundMe page, as well as much-needed personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline workers.
On March 27, Irish American Brian McCabe announced the launch of a GoFundMe page in a Facebook post: “I and my colleagues are calling on the Irish-American community, our allies and friends, and all good people to support our sisters and brothers on the frontline of the pandemic currently raging.
“Healthcare workers are that frontline. Dedicated and selfless, they are standing up to the danger and providing care and healing to those afflicted.
“It is disgraceful that they are doing this with dwindling supplies of personal protective equipment.
Noting that a meitheal was successfully organized after Hurricane Sandy, McCabe wrote: “What we now face is on a scale far beyond what we have had to deal with in the past.
"We are indeed all in this together, but it is those valiant healthcare workers who are bearing the brunt. They need our help and they need it now."
He continued: “Our immediate request is for contractor and construction companies to scour their resources and source protective equipment, masks, nitrile gloves, protective 'bunny' suits, and any other personal protective gear that can be utilized by medical professionals.
“In addition, we will seek other types of support for those workers who are under incredible stress. We welcome suggestions, and we will provide a GoFundMe page for financial support to fight this plague and procure equipment.
McCabe concluded: “It is time to stop watching your propaganda outlets of choice, put aside differences, and take action. Although many of you are homebound due to the necessary steps to stop the spread and flatten the curve, that does not mean you are powerless to help in ways big or small.
“We will prevail, Spring is here, and Easter is coming. It is time to rise above the anxiety and work together to battle this problem, and support those in harm's way."
As of Tuesday night, the GoFundMe page had raised just over $4,800 of its $20k goal.
Sophie Colgan, a native of Co Down who now lives in New Jersey and is involved with the fundraising effort, told IrishCentral that while the GoFundMe is a large part of the effort, plans are underway to use hubs within the local Irish community, such as the New York Irish Center, the Aisling Irish Center, and the Long Hall Pub, as collection points for the PPEs in the coming days and weeks.
Colgan said that after a medical team examines the PPE donations, the Padded Wagon moving company has agreed to help distribute them to hospitals that are in need.
Coronavirus in New York
The effort has been launched as New York remains the worst-hit state in the US in terms of confirmed cases. As of March 31, there were 75,795 confirmed cases of coronavirus in New York state, representing more than roughly 40 percent of the country’s 181,000 confirmed cases.
With the high number of cases, New York state, especially New York City, is feeling the strain. In response, the Javits Center has been converted into a 1,000-bed hospital, while the hospital ship USNS Comfort docked in the city this week bringing with it 1,000 hospital beds and 1,200 personnel.
The USNS Comfort seen sailing to New York Harbor from a NYS escort vessel.
The Comfort brings 1,000 much-needed hospital beds & 1,200 personnel to New York. I'll be in NYC to receive a briefing upon its arrival. pic.twitter.com/VpHpjymsow— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) March 30, 2020
New York State is additionally taking the following measures:
- A new Central Coordinating Team will help implement a public-private hospital plan to share information, supplies, staff, and patients among hospitals across the state.
- A new online portal will connect hospitals to volunteer healthcare workers and help prioritize deployment to hospitals with the greatest need.
- Three new sites have been identified to serve as a place for emergency beds - South Beach Psychiatric Center in Staten Island, Westchester Square in the Bronx and Health Alliance in Ulster County – adding 695 more beds.
- The federal government has approved four new sites for temporary hospitals - the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, the Aqueduct Racetrack facility in Queens, CUNY Staten Island and the New York Expo Center in the Bronx - adding an additional 4,000 beds.