May 20, 2020
More than 175,000 reusable face masks will be distributed in South Jersey by the Norcross Foundation and Cooper Foundation, starting with 20,000 masks that will be given to Camden residents and the Camden County Police Department on Thursday.
Then during the next few weeks, more masks will be distributed to people in Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties, as well as patients at Cooper offices and Cooper University Hospital. Future distributions will be coordinated with local officials to ensure that the most at-risk communities receive priority.
The masks are made of washable fabric and can be worn multiple times.
"As the state begins to resume normal activities, these face masks will provide a measure of protection for residents as they interact with others," said George E. Norcross III, chairman of the Cooper Board of Trustees and founder of Norcross Foundation. "For over 130 years, Cooper has been a leader in the community and we are proud to do everything we can to protect our neighbors during the pandemic"
In the earlier days of the COVID-19 pandemic, The Cooper Foundation started a fund to provide Cooper's clinical team with the needed personal protection equipment. George Norcross and The Norcross Foundation were among the first donors to that cause.
"Efforts to keep people healthy and safe is of utmost importance, and The Cooper Foundation and The Norcross Foundation are pleased to make these masks available to members of the communities we serve," Cooper Foundation Chairman Phil Norcross said.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cloth face coverings help prevent the person wearing it from spreading respiratory droplets when they talk, sneeze or cough. If everyone wears a cloth face covering when in public, such as when going to the grocery store, the risk of exposure to the coronavirus can be reduced for the community.
A person can spread the coronavirus before showing symptoms of COVID-19, and some people infected with the virus never show symptoms.
"Wearing a face mask is a simple way to keep yourself and others healthy when you are out and around others," said Dr. Anthony J. Mazzarelli, co-president/CEO of Cooper. "As New Jersey begins to slowly open, we are happy to be able to provide masks to those we serve as an easy way to stay healthy."
When using a cloth face mask, the CDC says to make sure your mouth and nose are fully covered and that the mask fits snugly against the sides of your face, leaving no gaps.
Avoid touching your face as much as possible while wearing the mask. You should clean your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer immediately before putting on, after touching or adjusting, and after removing your cloth face covering, the CDC says.
Don't share a face mask with anyone else unless it's washed and dried first. In general, cloth face coverings should, be washed regularly after being worn, the CDC says, using water and a mild detergent, then dried completely in a hot dryer, and stored in a clean container or bag.
"The health of the community and our patients is always our top priority and these face masks are just another way we can demonstrate our commitment to those we serve," Kevin O'Dowd, co-president/CEO of Cooper said.
Disclosure: PhillyVoice Founder and Chairwoman Lexie Norcross sits on the Cooper Foundation board of trustees. Her father is George E. Norcross III, chairman of the Board of Trustees of The Cooper Health System.