Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Coronavirus: Business and technology in a pandemic

Apple and Facebook donates masks to coronavirus healthcare workers

To help frontline healthcare workers stay protected.

Both Facebook and Apple have each announced they have donated emergency reserve masks to help frontline healthcare workers stay protected during the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Apple CEO Tim Cook tweeted on Sunday how the company was donating "millions of masks for health professionals in the US and Europe".

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"Our teams at Apple have been working to help source supplies for healthcare providers fighting COVID-19." he said.

Similarly, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said that the social media company has donated 720,000 masks. 

"Health workers urgently need more protective gear. To help, Facebook donated our emergency reserve of 720,000 masks that we had bought in case the wildfires continued," he wrote on a Facebook post.

"We're also working on sourcing millions of more to donate."

Meanwhile, Elon Musk did his bit by sending a "truckload of PPEs (masks, gowns, etc.) to UCLA Health", according to film director Peyton Reed. 

Reed said in a tweet how "they will be put to good use. My wife, her co-workers, and her patients thank you profusely". 

Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos wrote in a blog post how "masks remain in short supply globally".

Bezos also wrote how the company has "placed purchase orders for millions of face masks we want to give to our employees and contractors who cannot work from home, but very few of those orders have been filled".

Meanwhile, Flexport.org, the pro bono arm of global freight company Flexport, has outlined how its current mission is focused on getting more supplies to frontline healthcare workers combatting COVID-19.

Read also: How double bottom line capitalism is changing the business of tech (TechRepublic)

Flexport CEO Ryan Petersen announced on Twitter how the company received a $1 million donation from US-based venture capitalist Paul Graham for the initiative. 

"That gift will pay for almost all the protective gear required by the entire city of San Francisco's frontline healthcare workers. We'll likely distribute the equipment to hospitals in other locations too," he wrote.

It comes off the back of remarks by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo urging for the federal government to "nationalise the medical supply chain".

"The Federal Government should immediately use the Defense Production Act to order companies to make gowns, masks and gloves," he said in a tweet.

"Currently, states are competing against other states for supplies."

On Saturday, US Vice President Mike Pence announced how the Department of Health and Human Services "placed an order for hundreds of millions of N95 masks", which he said will be made available to healthcare providers across the country.

The Vice President also acknowledged the role that the private sector has played in helping the healthcare sector source additional supplies.

"I signed an executive order invoking the Defense Production Act, as you all know, giving us powerful new authorities to help states, cities, and hospitals procure needed supplies. There's been a clear call to action to the private sector, and the call is made right here," he said.   

"There's been a clear call to action to the private sector, and the call is made right here. It's been really pretty amazing what's happened with the private sector — they are really in sixth gear, I think — which has responded in full force, helping to produce and supply much-needed masks, swabs, sanitizers, ventilators, and everything else. There's a move on that's incredible right now."

At the time of writing, there are over 294,000 confirmed cases and nearly 13,000 deaths worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.