WILLMAR — Jennie-O Turkey Store has donated 8,800 N95 masks to Carris Health to help address the shortage of masks for front-line health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a news release from Carris Health.
“We are honored to be able to provide a substantial number of respirator masks to our friends at Carris Health,” said Steve Lykken, president of Jennie-O Turkey Store. “The roles of health care workers and food industry team members are critical in keeping our communities healthy and thriving, and we’re proud to do our part to ensure these essential workers have access to the protective equipment they need right now.”
An N95 respirator is a type of personal protective equipment. The N95 respirator mask blocks at least 95 percent of very small — 0.3 micron — test particles. A micron is one-millionth of a meter, and viruses are in the range of 0.3 microns.
While these masks are commonly used in several industries, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend that the general public wear them during the pandemic as they are critical supplies for health care workers and other medical first responders and should be reserved for that use.
“Carris Health, along with other health care facilities across the nation, have been conserving personal protective equipment, to make our supplies last longer, as we prepare for a potential surge of seriously ill patients,” said Eric Eveslage, manager of delivery operations for Carris Health and CentraCare.
The masks will be distributed to Carris Health care professionals and first responders in the region, according to Eveslage.
Eveslage said Jennie-O reached out directly to Carris Health regarding the donation, and Kandiyohi County — which is coordinating all donations from the public — said Carris Health should take possession of the masks in this case since Carris Health had the logistic resources to secure them and storage capacity.
In a reversal of the normal process, the county can reach out to Carris Health if county supplies run low and Carris Health will make the masks available to others.
Even with this donation, personal protective equipment is still in need.
Kandiyohi County Emergency Management continues to seek donations of personal protective equipment for first responders and health care facilities, including:
PAPR (powered air-purified respirators)
Scrubs — recommended pattern, go to www.kcmn.us/em
Homemade masks — recommended patterns, go to www.kcmn.us/em
Homemade face shields — recommended pattern, go to www.kcmn.us/em
Call 320-214-6780 to arrange an appointment for drop off. Lines are currently being answered from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Kim Lindahl, director of county emergency management, has said donors must have an appointment to drop off items.