Cars line up to donate masks for Minnesota nurses as global demand for gear increases

(FOX 9)

Nurses and health care workers on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic, who are struggling to find masks, received support from members of the community on Saturday.

This past week, nurses have spoken out about concerns over the lack of medical gear as demand for masks and other protective equipment spikes globally.

Friday, the Minnesota Nurses Association put out a call for masks, announcing they would hold a drive on Saturday, and the coming days, to collect any available gear.

Saturday afternoon, the parking lot in front of the Minnesota Nurses Association on Randolph Avenue in St. Paul was bustling. There were lines of cars with people bringing in medical masks they may have had sitting at home or at their business.

"I cleaned out my medicine cabinet and I found those masks and I thought, 'I got to look somewhere in the Twin Cities where they can use them,'" said Leslie Mornes.

From people with a few masks sitting at home, to companies like Securian Financial, Minnesotans were pulling up by the dozens.

"We have resources available we must support the community," said Nicole Hansen with Securian. "We must give back."

Minnesotans were pulling up by the dozens to help nurses and other health care professionals get the equipment they so desperately need.

"It’s all of us who need these so that we don’t get it, we don’t bring it home to our families, but we also don’t spread it to other non-infected patients," explained Carrie Mortrud with the Minnesota Nurses Association.

Mortrud with the Minnesota Nurses Association explains the N-95 grade masks are vital to keeping patients and medical professionals healthy right now. However, with them in short supply, she said they're "going to have to start deciding who gets help and who doesn’t because we don’t have enough supplies."

Nurses are now being told to wear one single-use mask for five days in a row, even if they are working with infected patients.

"I never imagined that in my lifetime that we would see something like this where we’re rationing equipment and having to bend policies and rules in order to meet the needs and demands."

With help, they are hoping to stay ahead of the spread.

"Any and all, we will take. Please come help us out," Mortrud said.

The Nurses Association will be holding drives from noon until two until next Sunday at the building on 345 Randolph Avenue in St. Paul. So, if you have any of these masks at home, they are asking people to bring them by. We've seen a lot on social media about people making cloth masks. The nurses here tell us in a medical setting, those are far from ideal, but in desperate times, they would take them.

However, they say, what they hope is people at home use those cloth masks if they think they need them and give the medical-grade masks to the medical professionals on the front lines.

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