As the Bay Area's shelter-in-place order stretches on, local nonprofit organizations have been stepping up in an effort to support essential employees and help alleviate a supply shortage of personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves.
Local group Tri-Valley Asian Association (TVAA) is one such organization that has risen to the occasion. As of Monday, they have raised thousands of dollars and facilitated the donation of tens of thousands of various personal protective equipment items to first responders and frontline health care professionals in Northern California.
Chinese-Americans in the Tri-Valley with ties to China understood the gravity of the coronavirus early on, according to TVAA founder and board member Sylvia Tian. Many of these residents had heard about a shortage of protective gear in China and searched for masks to ship to families, friends and doctors in the epicenter of the outbreak.
Now that China is restarting its economy and there are more confirmed coronavirus cases in America than anywhere else in the world, Tian said Chinese-Americans are calling on loved ones there and across the world to help and send protective gear to the United States.
"We are concerned," she said. "We love the people around us. We have friends and family who work in the hospitals ... (who) update us every day on the lack of equipment."
Through TVAA's network in China, GL-iNet Tech Co. and founder/CEO Jianyi Zhao donated 10,000 surgical masks, 9,000 gloves and 100 protective gowns to Northern California on April 16, according to Tian
GL-iNet Tech also donated 6,000 surgical masks to Washington Hospital Healthcare Foundation, to help stem the spread of the pandemic.
Following the TVAA's call to action, Tian added that local nonprofit group Hunan Association of San Francisco Bay Area is working with the city to provide first responders with 2,000 masks, with another 5,000 on its way to help Pleasanton directly. Those were acquired from the group's parent organization, the Overseas Chinese Federation of Hunan Province.
Prior to acquiring those materials, in the first week of April, TVAA members collectively raised $9,000 -- which was used to purchase 20,000 pairs of gloves, 2,869 masks, 126 pairs of shoe covers, 27 gowns and 11 packs of disinfecting wipes for hospitals in the region.
"I was totally amazed by the community response," TVAA president Grace Li said in a statement. "It's a testament to our country and also to our community."
Regional hospitals that benefited from these donations include Kaiser Permanente Santa Clara, Palo Alto Foundation Medical Group, NORCAL Ambulance, Stanford Health Care-ValleyCare, Santa Clara Valley Medical Center, San Jose Regional Hospital, San Leandro Hospital and Eden Medical Center.
"There are still many donations going on. Community members are donating masks through TVAA to the nurses and hospitals in boxes or single-digit numbers with 100% of love and care," Tian told the Weekly.
In addition to acquiring donations, TVAA has also partnered with local students from the Pleasanton Unified School District who are making masks alongside their parents.
As of Sunday, Harvest Park Middle School students Kacie Hu, Brain Geng, Irayna Lin and Jason Hu as well as Amador Valley High student Yihan Yan have helped their parents make and donate 370 face shields, using materials purchased online or from local home improvement stores.
All face shields had been delivered to Diablo Valley Oncology & Hematology Medical Group in Danville, Sutter Health Alta Bates Summit ICU and Highland Hospital.
Amador students Brent Werder and Jason Wei have also been working with Helena Jin, an engineer at Sandia National Lab Livermore, to improve the design of 3D printed masks, in order to make them more durable and easy-to-use.
Also at Amador, engineering teacher Tony Dennis has gone out of his way to try out the laser cutter in the engineering classroom facilitating the face shields making.
Over in Danville, Athenian School student Ethan Ding has made a YouTube tutorial on making 3D printed face shields for anyone interested in learning.
In a text message, Jenny Shi, a nurse from Highland Hospital ICU department who accepted the donation said: "The hand-made face shields have been taken immediately by the ER nurses... We are going to use them well. Thank you!"
As for the treatment of Chinese Americans locally, Jie Liu -- a nurse who lives in Tri-Valley and a recipient of the TVAA's donations -- said that while the Tri-Valley community has been kind to Chinese-Americans amid the outbreak, Asian-Americans have reported experiencing xenophobia and racism related to coronavirus
Li said Chinese-Americans are also victims of the outbreak and she is concerned about how non-Asian kids might respond to Asian-American students when they return to school.
"In these difficult times, we should unite together to fight the virus, not fight each other because of the color of our skin," she said. "We are part of the United States, we are part of this society… People who don't have enough knowledge would think that it's 'the Chinese people' who have been infected."