The VMC Foundation is looking for all the help it can get. (Photo via Facebook)
Since the COVID-19 outbreak began veering toward an exponential growth rate here in Santa Clara County, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo has been reaching out to the local businesses community for help getting frontline responders the supplies they need.
IBM was among the first to answer the call.
The city’s pleas reminded IBM senior location manager Laura Guio and colleague Chris Akey, a director who oversees crisis management, that the company bought thousands of face masks to keep staff safe from smoke during last year’s wildfires. They knew that thousands of those surplus masks had languished in storage ever since then.
Within 24 hours of the epiphany, Guio and Akey gave 15,000 masks to Santa Clara County’s healthcare system. They’re now being used at three local hospitals: O’Connor and Valley Med in San Jose and St. Louise in Gilroy.
Since the outbreak began, each of those sites has gone through an average of about 400 masks a day, so the gift came as a godsend in a time of critical need.
The donations and supplies drive ramped up in the days to follow.
Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez gave it a big push, teaming up with the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG) CEO Carl Guardino, whose business lobbying group raised nearly $600,000 in the first 24-hour span of the initiative.
Silicon Valley Bank, whose president Greg Becker sits on the SVLG executive board, donated $500,000 to the effort.
“What we want to make sure of is the doctors, the nurses the respiratory therapists, the people who are cleaning hospital rooms—everyone who is helping us get people better—get all the support to do that, and that is what this ask is about,” Chavez said.
In addition to cash, several SVLG member companies donated supplies, including:
- Lumileds with close to 1,200 respirators and 1,300 surgical masks
- KLA with 2,000 medical grade HazMat suits for hospital personnel
- Western Digital with 140,000 surgical masks and 4,000 pairs of gloves
- Supermicro with 10,000 surgical masks
- BYD with 5,000 adult surgical masks with ear flaps and 2,000 bottles of hand sanitizer
“Santa Clara County has been working incredibly hard to prepare and now Silicon Valley companies are stepping up and saying how can we help,” Liccardo said.
Assemblyman Ash Kalra (D-San Jose) is leading his own drive for medical supplies for the Valley Medical Center Foundation to distribute to frontline staff.
“As our first responders, doctors, and nurses risk their safety during the coronavirus outbreak, they are now lacking the basic tools to do their jobs right, and to do them safely,” Kalra said in an announcement of the effort.
He urged members of the public to give what supplied they have to the people working in local hospitals and clinics, which are running out of basic protective gear.
“I understand the desire for the public to hold on to many of these items, however, our frontline medical staff need them more than we do,” Kalra said. “If you or anyone you know happens to have a surplus of supplies, please consider donating these items.”
To do your part, donate online at vmcfoundation.org, mail a check to 2400 Clove Drive, San Jose, 95128, drop off supplies between 8am and 5pm daily at the same address, or call 408.885.5299 to get more info about the effort.
As of now, there are 337,880 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 14,444 deaths worldwide. The latest tally for Santa Clara County, which was last updated on Saturday, puts the total confirmed-case count at 263 and total death toll at eight.