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International effort delivers N95 masks, face shields for Johns Hopkins health system

May 26, 2020
Boxes of PPE

The shipment of personal protective equipment to the Johns Hopkins Health System ballooned from 1,000 to 10,000 face shields and masks, thanks to the efforts of an international group of Hopkins faculty, students, and parents.

Honggang Cui watched with concern from afar earlier this year as his hometown in China’s Henan province locked down to prevent more cases of the novel coronavirus, which was quickly spreading from the city of Wuhan in neighboring Hubei province.

Cui, an associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering, knew from media coverage that medical supplies, including the personal protective equipment, or PPE, used by frontline health care workers, had become scarce during the height of the pandemic there. So when COVID-19 began to spread in the United States in late February, he wanted to do something to help.

“My hometown was hit very hard and was on lockdown,” said Cui, who is also a member of the Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology. “I knew how bad it would be, so I wanted to try to find supplies of PPE in China and have them sent to our health care workers here at the Johns Hopkins Health System.”

Cui began asking friends and family back in China to help him with this project but quickly learned that other members of the Johns Hopkins community—including fellow professor and INBT Associate Director Hai-Quan Mao, students of Chinese heritage, and their parents—had the same idea. Connecting as strangers online, they joined forces, leveraged their resources, and succeeded in coordinating the delivery of 10,000 face shields and N95 masks from various cities and towns in China to the Johns Hopkins Health System in mid-April.

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