Cooper to donate 200,000 KN95 masks to Camden area

Cooper University Health Care will provide 200,000 non-medical grade KN95 masks to be distributed throughout Camden with the assistance of the Camden County Metro Police and Sheriff’s Departments.

The masks, which were purchased early in the pandemic when there was a significant shortage of all types of masks, are not appropriate for clinical settings in hospitals. But, while they are non-medical grade, they are significantly more effective than cloth masks to reduce transmission of the virus when used in public settings.

“The science is clear: Masks help reduce the spread of COVID-19, and non-medical grade KN95 masks like these are far more effective than the cloth masks so many wear,” Cooper Health Chairman George Norcross said.

“From the earliest days of the pandemic, when Cooper distributed hundreds of thousands of masks to first responders and area schools, we have done what we can to defeat the transmission of the virus and treat those who’ve been infected.”

The masks will be distributed through a variety of community organizations, schools and senior centers, among other locations, with the assistance of officers from the Camden Metro Police and Sheriff’s Departments.

“As the Omicron variant continues to be present throughout the community, we want to provide residents with an additional measure of protection for themselves and others,” Cooper co-CEO Kevin O’Dowd said. “Masks are a powerful weapon in our fight to slow the spread of this virus.”

Co-CEO Dr. Anthony Mazzarelli agreed.

“The best way to protect yourself against COVID-19 is to get vaccinated and a booster shot,” he said. “Another way to protect yourself and others is to wear a mask in public settings, and we wanted to put these masks to good use.”

At the beginning of the pandemic, when surgical masks were in short supply, Cooper distributed more than 375,000 cloths masks to all first responders and schools in Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties as well as to numerous community organizations and agencies.

Camden County Metro Police Chief Gabe Rodriguez is appreciative of the effort.

“First and foremost, we want to thank Cooper University Health Care for their continued support for us as an agency and for their backing to our overall community,” he said. “It’s no secret that higher-quality masks will go a long way to stop the transmission of this virus, and this donation will be a tremendous vehicle for us to get these tools into our neighborhoods and into the hands of our residents.”

The city of Camden has deployed several tools into the city to fight COVID-19. This includes working with health care providers and public health officials to get more than 80% of the population at least one dose of the vaccine, setting up testing sites throughout the city and ensuring that access and opportunity to quality medical care and medication is available citywide.

“Getting these masks into my city is imperative; we need to make sure that our residents have the ability to wear high-quality masks that will make them stronger against this virus,” Camden Mayor Vic Carstarphen said. “The person-to-person transmission of COVID has been off the charts over the last two months, and these masks will provide another barrier to this insidious virus, so I want to take this opportunity to thank our partners at Cooper University Health Care with this assist in the continued fight against this disease.”