There wasn’t anything particularly remarkable about Nancy Bowser’s Monday afternoon visit to the Vancouver Clinic’s administrative office. It was what she carried in a small bag that was remarkable.
Bowser came to the clinic to drop off 100 surgical masks and 10 N95 respirator masks. All 110 masks were given to Bowser by a family friend in China. The friend told Bowser and her husband, Bobbie Bowser, that China’s mask supply was recovering as the country rebounded from COVID-19. The friend figured that the United States could use those masks right now.
“Things are getting way better over there, and things are getting way worse over here,” Nancy Bowser said.
Chastell Ely, a spokeswoman with Vancouver Clinic, said in an email that Vancouver Clinic has received nearly 10,000 donated masks in the past week.
“We are extremely humbled by the generosity of our community,” Ely said in the email. “In the past week, we’ve received nearly 10,000 masks from local businesses and individuals, who have stepped up to help protect our doctors, nurses, staff and our patients. These donations help ensure we can continue to safely provide care to our community.”
Smiles Dental provided about 6,000 of the masks to Vancouver Clinic, and gave around 6,000 to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver, too. Ely said the community support has been impressive to witness.
Last week, Evergreen Public Schools donated more than 11,000 masks to Clark Regional Emergency Services Agency, along with thousands of splash shields and hundreds of safety glasses.
Community donations like these have been essential as personal protective equipment shortages have hit the United States medical system.
Bowser’s husband is a consultant who works internationally and has made friends in China. The Vancouver couple even adopted two daughters from China, in 1998 and 2000.
Bowser said she’s disappointed to hear about racist acts targeting Asian Americans, which is becoming more and more commonplace since the coronavirus pandemic started in the city of Wuhan, China, in December.
Last week, the Federal Bureau of Investigation warned in a report that “hate crime incidents against Asian Americans likely will surge across the United States, due to the spread of coronavirus disease.”
National Public Radio reported last week that a professor in California set up a website to track harassment and attacks of Asian Americans. In its first eight days, the website received more than 650 reports of discrimination, mostly against Asian Americans.
Bowser said she hopes her friend’s gesture can show Americans that people in China care about the U.S. recovering from this pandemic. She said she hopes that people understand that everyone is in this together.
“It’s a small gesture that shows, ‘We’re thinking of you,’ ” Bowser said. “I was very touched.”