Chandler Police get big facemask donation The Chandler Arizonan

Chandler Police get big facemask donation

Chandler Police get big facemask donation
Health and Wellness

By Kevin Reagan
Arizonan Staff Writer

The Chinese-American COVID-19 Relief group has given Chandler Police their largest donation of disposable masks to help shield officers and citizens from the coronavirus.

The group that donated 4,000 masks comprises local individuals who have been supplying several hospitals and police departments with protective gear since the pandemic began.

The donation came at a crucial time for police, said Sgt. Jason McClimans, because the department’s supply has become notably depleted and it hoped to avoid pulling from the city’s reserves.

Officers burn through about 50 masks a day during all their interactions with the public, he explained, adding the donation brings the supply back to a more comfortable level.

The Chinese-American COVID-19 Relief has collected more than $50,000 to purchase over 150,000 masks. It already delivered masks to Mesa Police, Dignity Health, the Mayo Clinic, Banner Health and the Navajo Nation.

Susan Liu, of Chandler, helped organize the group when the pandemic started in March and said most of the donors reside in Chandler and Gilbert.

This region is their home, she said, and the group feels a responsibility to protect the community during one of the worst health crises in modern history.

“When the community – our neighbors, our friends, our coworkers, our doctors, our police – is facing challenges – it’s up to us to unite together,” Liu said.

Getting the masks to their recipients has not been an easy task.

Liu said her group encountered several transportation problems in March and struggled to find distributors willing to deliver their supplies.

The COVID-19 outbreak disrupted the international supply chain of protective gear during the first few weeks of the pandemic as demand for masks outpaced the global supply.

“Meeting demand for face masks has become one of the main issues for governments fighting the pandemic,” the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development wrote in a policy statement. “Masks may play an even greater role in the next phase of the crisis, when lockdowns are gradually lifted and economic activity resumes.”

The Chinese-American Relief group had little trouble finding donors to pay for new masks, Liu said, but the real challenge was getting masks to first-responders and health care workers.

Flights kept getting cancelled and the government’s shipping policies were changing on a daily basis.

More than 100 distributors were contacted before the group got the first batches of masks imported into Arizona.

The whole operation essentially became another full-time job for this group of volunteers, said Liu, who works at Intel.

Chandler Police appreciated the group’s efforts.

“We know how special we have it in Chandler — especially compared to other communities in the country,” said Police Chief Sean Duggan.

Community policing is based on trust, the chief added, and officers can only maintain it by meeting with people one-on-one.

The pandemic has made these types of interactions more challenging, Duggan said, but having access to protective gear makes the task a bit easier.

The total number of COVID-19 cases in Chandler has grown from 3,893 to 5,070 within the last two weeks, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services. ZIP code 85225, which is home to the main Chandler Police station, has been the site of some of the city’s biggest transmission spikes; its total number of virus cases tripled between June and July. 

As the number of local cases continues to increase, the police department said it’s been taking steps to try to prevent officers from contracting the virus.

The agency has canceled several community events, curbed activity at its main headquarters and officers are instructed to keep their face covered whenever walking through a public area.

These circumstances are alien to the concept of community policing, Duggan said, but officers continue to be uplifted by the support of citizens with generous donations like the one made by Chinese-American COVID-19 Relief.

“Who knows how long this will continue?” he said. “But certainly, this puts us in better footing to help protect our folks.”

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