Ga. Shops Donate N95 Masks During Pandemic

March 20, 2020
Finish Pros in Greater Atlanta has embarked upon a charitable endeavor that's putting extra N95 masks in the hands of local hospitals, nursing homes and police departments.

MARCH 19, 2020-Art Harris, a partner with Atlanta-area MSO Finish Pros, heard recently that medical officials are in need of N95 face masks during the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak.

He promptly sprung to action.

The Georgia shop operator knew his two facilities had extra N95 masks lying around. Thus, he took steps to make sure metro Atlanta facilities like nursing homes and hospitals got boxes of the masks. And, FinishPros has subsequently started the #N95Challenge directed at other repair facilities, via social media.

"We heard they were asking construction companies to donate these masks. ...We're just following the recommendations of what the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommended," Harris said, in reference to the N95 masks, in a podcast interview with FenderBender. "And I was thinking "Well, we have these masks.' In my inventory, every mask I had was an N95 mask. It's pretty common in our industry. I don't know that all shops know that they have them, because they're not your traditional medical masks; They're a little bulkier, a little thicker. They say N95 right on them, and that's what they need.

"So, we started calling around. And, we started with about 24 boxes, maybe, and then we just reached out to hospitals, nursing homes, and just tried to donate them."

The N95 masks are especially valuable to medical professionals during the COVID-19 outbreak. Amid reports that health care providers currently lack enough necessary protective equipment to treat a surge of coronavirus patients, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday noted that companies like 3M and Honeywell have pledged to increase production of the N95 masks, per an ABC News report. Also of note, the Washington Post reports that extended liability protection allows manufacturers and hospitals to provide industrial N95 masks to medical workers without fear of being sued if the masks fail; the government now assumes liability.

Of course, given the concern about spreading COVID-19 these days, Harris wasn't allowed to simply drive up to a hospital entrance and drop off the face masks. He had to go through the proper channels by reaching out ahead of time. However, Harris noted that quickly dropping the masks off to police departments was rather easy.

"I'm looking at local media, I'm looking at local TV stations and news," Harris explained. "And I'm seeing who needs (masks). One of our local news stations noted that the Atlanta police department doesn't have any masks, and they're in need. So, I reached out to our local TV station and said 'Hey, set me up with the contact; I've got some I could donate,' and they came by and picked up 40 masks."

Harris hopes others in the auto industry follow suit and consider donating N95 masks to those in need. Given what he's seen during his lengthy stint in the industry, he's confident they will.

"I've been in the industry for over 30 years," he said. "The body shop industry is some of the most powerful and influential people in the world, in my opinion. We have shop owners, we have MSOs, we have some of the biggest players around. And, when we get together, I don't think there's anything that can stop us.

"We had extra masks, and if a small portion of the shops have one box they donate, we would definitely have a good impact."

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