A fierce proponent of wearing face coverings during the pandemic, the mayor of Plattsburgh has been coordinating donations of N95 masks and face shields this week. The materials are being given at no cost to a business sector that must work in close contact with customers: owners of and workers at hair salons and tattoo parlors.
A crowd of people met in Trinity Park wearing face coverings were maintaining distance as Mayor Colin Read opened a box and began handing out packets to the personal care professionals. "They’re N95 masks to protect you from getting infected because if you get infected you’re basically potentially a super-carrier right? So these are five N95 masks. At this poit I’m giving them out to anybody who’s personal care – hair stylists and tattoo artist and masseuses etc. Anyway we’ll d the best we can to get you some equipment.”
Read, a Democrat, says data shows frontline health care workers and first responders have a lower rate of infection because of their use of Personal Protective Equipment. As New York slowly reopens business sectors, Read says personal care professionals such as hair stylists and barbers may work with more people per day than any other professional group and they must be kept safe. “If you work with a big corporation that need you to get back right away those manufacturers are taking care of you. There’s nobody looking out for these individuals. They’re usually one or two person small businesses and nobody looking out for them and yet they probably need the protection more than just about anybody that does have access to these resources.”
Run With Scissors owner Shannon Perrea is helping the mayor distribute the starter kits. “What is in the packet are five masks the N95 masks. There’s also a face shield in there too. Scientifically they’re really saying that this virus is passed through droplets. I’m still kind of confused with wear gloves, don’t wear gloves. Okay so there’s a face shield. There’s five masks and there’s also it’s like a tutorial about some of the procedural things.”
Loose Ends is a salon on Oak Street in Plattsburgh. Kelly Gow is preparing her workspace for reopening and feels the N95 mask is a more secure option than a cloth or paper mask. “We’re going to be working about 18 inches away from people’s face so I think this would be the best option to not spread the disease. We bought all the stuff to clean down. We have like a 20 minute process I think we have to clean in between each person. We’re taking time in between. We have to wipe everything down. We spent 10 hours I think the other day wiping all the walls down and cleaning. We redid carpeting. We redid flooring. We painted all the walls again. We stripped everything. Remodeled the whole shop trying to make sure everything is great.”
The effort to donate the N95 masks is not a city sponsored project. Mayor Read is distributing the kits during his lunch hour and has been working with supply chain procurement expert Gus Reitsema to obtain the masks. Reitsema is the son of the local hospital’s infectious disease specialist.