MASK UP initiative gets masks to people of color in Charlottesville

MASK UP initiative gets masks to people of color in Charlottesville

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Statistics show black people are being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. To prevent the number of cases from rising, some activists are raising money to get masks to those who need them, through MASK UP.

The National Coalition of 100 Black Women in the Charlottesville Metropolitan Area along with Myra Anderson are getting handmade masks into the community, as part of the MASK UP Initiative.

Libby Edwards-Allbaugh, the treasurer for the chapter of 100 Black Women, says everyone should have access to protection against COVID-19.

"If you have a face covering that’s fine, but a lot of people don’t have that, so we want to make sure you have a mask or some sort of face covering,” said Edwards-Allbaugh.

Community activist Don Gathers says some racist views can cause those coverings to be seen as a problem when worn by someone black.

“Especially from a minority standpoint, minorities are already at a disadvantage. We’re typically the over-policed, the last to receive help receive the basic necessities,” said Gathers. “Even in this particular crisis, minority communities are still the last class to receive the necessary equipment and items that they need”.

Myra Anderson is working with the MASK UP initiative. She says ensuring people have a layer of protection is a first step to stopping the spread of the virus.

"Providing a mask to someone who doesn't have one is something simple that we can do in our community to get against the structural and systemic barriers that make this virus in particular more effective in the African American community,” said Anderson. “The way that I looked at it is getting a mask to someone now beats them having to be on a ventilator later”.

Edwards-Allbaugh says an anonymous donor has agreed to match up to $5,000 in funds donated to the MASK UP Initiative through the morning of Wednesday, April 22. That money can help protect more than those who have to go out for groceries or other essential items. It can protect front-line workers as well.

“One of the ways that we can help protect our health care workers is we can mask up our community, because if we have less people affected by the virus, then we’ll have less strain on the health care system, so it’s all a chain reaction there” said Edwards-Allbaugh.

Stopping the spread is especially important because of the number of black people with the coronavirus. According to the most recent census data, black people make up 13.4% of the population across the U.S., but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports black people make up 33.7% of COVID-19 cases.

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