By Chinta Strausberg
So concerned about the rise of COVID-19 victims and so many deaths, humanitarian Dr. Willie Wilson confirmed late Monday night he is giving away 100,000 surgical facemasks Tuesday to senior citizen homes in Chicago.
And, he will begin mailing out checks for those unemployed due to the coronavirus and to seniors who last week signed up through his website to receive part of the $1 million he promised to help alleviate their expenses. “We hit the 10,000 mark within a few hours,” Dr. Wilson said referring to those applying for the $100 he promised each of them.
And his goodness doesn’t end there. Tuesday, March 31st, Dr. Wilson will be sending out his workers to deliver 100,000 surgical masks to the seniors who each will receive three masks. “Let’s pray that this thing gets over with,” he said referring to the victims of COVID-19, which in Illinois has claimed 461 new people testing positive for this virus, 8 new deaths for a total of 78 who have died so far, and more than 5,000 afflicted by this virus.
Last week, Dr. Wilson gave away 10,000 protective medical masks to police and firemen as a way to help first line unprotected responders in their daily fight to save the lives of COVID-19 victims.
Dr. Wilson said he has talked to Gov. Pritzker about his masks and is concerned about both about the lack of surgical equipment health officials need and hospital beds needed for the anticipated surge in these cases.
Both Gov. Pritzker and Mayor Lori Lightfoot are jointly planning for a predicted surge in COVID-19 cases. They will use two closed health facilities, the Metro South Hospital in Blue Island and the Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin to house the overflow of these patients as well as the McCormick Place where ultimately 3,000 beds will be available by the end of next month.
Dr. Wilson’s mask giveaway also comes on the heels of nurses in Chicago and across the nation begging for surgical masks and other protective hospital gear. When asked if he would also give away masks to nurses, Dr. Wilson said, “These nurses at these hospitals don’t have face masks. I have to look into that. The nurses need to have facemasks.”
President Trump said he is contemplating mandating that everyone wear facemasks like in people in Korea and other parts of Asia where wearing them is the norm, and he is also thinking about mandating a national stay-at-home order as COVID-19 continues to spread across the nation.
Even Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House Coronavirus Taskforce and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, said perhaps it is time to rethink people wearing facemasks. He and other health officials predict 200,000 Americans could die from COVID-19.
But not all health officials agree that all people should wear these masks. One of them is U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams who recently tweeted, “Seriously people—STOP BUYING MASKS! They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!”
Disagreeing is Jeremy Howard, a distinguished research scientist at the University of San Francisco and a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Al Council, who said wearing a mask decreases transmission of COVID-19 by 50 percent. “We should all wear masks –store bought or homemade whenever in public,” Howard wrote. “It can effectively flatten the curve.”
While the facemasks debate escalates, Dr. Wilson, who has repurposed his marketing of medical supplies, said he is now selling surgical masks to anyone on his website, Omarorder.com. A box of 50 masks costs $40. He also sells N-95 masks used by doctors for a cost of $275 to $300.
“We changed our focus because people can’t get these supplies,” said Dr. Wilson. “I am stepping up to help as much as I can. I promised the Lord that I would continue to serve him, and I intend to do that until I die.”
However, Gov. Pritzker is asking anyone to donate unused supplies like facemasks by emailing: ppe.donations@Illinois.gov.