Alaska Airlines is donating air transport to help supply large numbers of face masks in support of the 100 Million Mask Challenge.
The American Hospital Association (AHA) launched the nationwide initiative in late March to secure masks for physicians, nurses and caregivers who are treating coronavirus patents. The initial effort is aimed at getting masks to Providence, a non-profit Catholic healthcare system operating 51 hospitals in seven states.
Providence has engaged Kaas Tailored, a Washington state furniture manufacturer that has agreed to produce personal protective equipment and share design specifications with other manufacturers.
Last Wednesday, Alaska Airlines (NYSE: ALK) carried materials to make 210,000 hospital-grade masks on scheduled-passenger flights from Seattle to Dallas, Phoenix and Los Angeles, where thousands of masks are being assembled each week.
Providence spokesman Mark Gross said the most urgent need for replenishment is at facilities in Washington, Oregon and California, but that the masks are being produced for all hospitals, including ones in Alaska, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon and Texas. Once the masks are made, they will flow into Providence’s regular supply chain that utilizes trucks, rail and airfreight.
“For years, Alaska Airlines has helped us fly doctors, nurses and other medical personnel up and down the West Coast. Now more than ever, it’s mission-critical to get protective equipment to caregivers, who are caring for millions of people in the communities we serve,” said Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips, chief clinical officer for Providence, in a statement. “We are heartened by all the great companies stepping up to the 100 Million Mask Challenge and hope more will join our efforts to protect our country’s caregivers.”
More information on how to support the “100 Million Mask Challenge” is available at aha.org/100millionmasks.
The AHA said it is striving to scale up the campaign and match providers in need of masks and manufacturers with capacity to produce them.
Alaska Airlines is the only domestic passenger airline to also operate dedicated, all-cargo aircraft, which have added importance moving essential goods because airlines dismantled much of their passenger networks when people stopped traveling because of the coronavirus. On Monday, Alaska Airlines announced it will reduce capacity by 80% in April and May.
Alaska Air Cargo said its three Boeing 737-700 freighters are being used heavily to ship tons of groceries, medical supplies and other items to, from and within the state of Alaska, which relies on ocean and air transport from the Lower 48 states for basic staples and other goods.
(Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the mask components were transported on Alaska freighters. )