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Vegas Chinese community mobilizes to help in COVID-19 fight

Posted at 6:06 PM, Mar 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-26 00:27:46-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Some much needed medical supplies are arriving at hospitals in the valley - thanks to the local Chinese community coming together.

Products were donated and delivered to the University Medical Center Wednesday.

The items came from the local Chinese community as they also sent masks to Wuhan in the early days of the coronavirus outbreak.

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"I feel like more people participated today than Wuhan because this is our home, and everybody wants to help the doctors and nurses in town," Jia Mei Wang, a local sales manager, said.

Wang also said she mobilized community members through WeChat, a Chinese social media platform. Within days she was able to raise enough money to buy and deliver 50,000 masks to different local hospitals.

UMC received the largest donation with 30,000 surgical masks and 500 N95 masks, according to the group.

"We're trying to work day and night to get the supplies to the people," Jia Mei Wang said.

Governor Steve Sisolak praised their efforts after stressing the need for more protective equipment for hospitals and waiting on needed supplies from the federal government.

"I was just notified that the Chinese/Asian American community has donated thousands of masks to various hospitals and providers, and I thank them for that," he said.

Workers at UMC said the donations come at a critical time when needed supplies are hard to come by around the country.

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"The need is becoming more and more during this time, and we're pretty close to running out of all these masks, and we anticipate we're going to have more shortages in the coming few weeks," Alex Lin, a UMC Medical resident, said.

With the supplies in tow, it's a team effort to help fight the virus.

"They really just want to help us and keep us safe and to make sure that the healthcare providers on the front lines continue helping patients as they come through," Lin said.

The act of charity comes during a time when Asian Americans have shared their stories of physical and verbal attacks, as well as discrimination pinned to the coronavirus outbreak.

Asian American groups are criticizing President Trump for calling it a "Chinese" virus, with the president defending the remark saying it's where the virus orginated.

However, the World Health Organization issued a recommendation in 2015 to not call diseases by location or nationality to "minimize unnecessary negative effects."

"It creates this stigma against Chinese and Asian Americans as a whole, which I think is unfair and unfounded, to be honest," Lin said.

While there have been no reported attacks or incidents in the valley, Lin says he's happy the Chinese community is lending a hand to area hospitals.

"It's great that they can look past that and help contribute to our society and help protect the health care workers," he said.

Community members say they are willing to help simply through a desire to give back to their fellow Nevadans.

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"I am just hoping as the virus eventually goes away, that we can reconnect and reunite," Wang said.

Other hospitals like Dignity Health and Sunrise hospitals are also asking for donations of medical supplies.

If you're interested in reaching out to donate, call Sunrise Hospital's donation hotline at 855-815-3859.

Dignity Health is currently accepting donations of unopened boxes of N95 masks, surgical masks, and isolation gowns from local medical professionals.

If you have access to these supplies and wish to donate, please contact SRDH-Supplies@DignityHealth.org.