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‘We must remain vigilant’

Local officials distribute masks amid Covid-19 spike

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At the end of 2020, Nassau County Legislator Debra Mulé, of Freeport, joined the student group Long Island Laboring Against Covid-19 to donate 15,000 masks and other personal protective equipment to Mount Sinai South Nassau hospital in Oceanside.

County Executive Laura Curran, of Baldwin, also attended the give-away event on Dec. 29, which was catered by Benny B’s restaurant in Baldwin and Sarah Brown Caterers in Great Neck. 

A few days later, Mulé got a call from the hospital, saying that while the PPE kits and hospital gowns were appreciated, the masks could not be used, because they were not medical grade. 

Mulé asked LILAC if she could distribute the masks to the communities that she represents, and after getting the OK, she and her team went out on Jan. 8, 10 and 11 and handed out the masks to senior center members, first responders and other at-risk groups in Baldwin, Freeport, Rockville Centre and South Hempstead. 

“When the hospital couldn’t use the masks, that was a door closing, but when one door closes, a window opens,” Mulé said. “In this case, it was several windows opening.” 

During the three-day distribution, Mulé and her team gave out masks to the Baldwin, Freeport and South Nassau fire departments, the Baldwin and Freeport American Legion posts, St. Christopher’s Parish Outreach in Baldwin, the Freeport Police Department, Freeport Housing Authority, Oceanside Senior Center, Hispanic Brotherhood Senior Center, and Baldwin schools.

“We are grateful for the many ways a variety of people have helped our very active pantry during this past year,” said the pastor of St. Christopher’s Church, the Rev. Nicholas Zientarski, “and the gift of the masks from Mrs. Mulé’s office is most appreciated by both our staff members, as well as the clients who come.”

“Baldwin Post No. 246 officers and members are grateful to Legislator Mulé, LILAC and the Town of Hempstead for the PPE and disinfecting supplies donated to us since we reopened the post facility and members’ lounge at the end of July,” said Baldwin American Legion Commander Bob Hare. “By encouraging safe practices, we have been very fortunate that no one we are aware of has gotten ill [from visiting the post] during that time.”

Mulé also distributed more masks to the fire departments in Merrick and Oceanside. 

Sabrina Guo, 14, of Oyster Bay Cove, founded LILAC to help first responders during the height of the pandemic last spring. Since then, the organization has donated thousands of masks and PPE to hospitals, first responders, essential workers, school districts and communities across Long Island. 

During a summer mask donation event in Freeport, Guo said she wanted LILAC to focus part of its distributions on communities of color, which have been hit harder by the pandemic than neighboring areas. Minority-majority communities like Freeport, Hempstead and Valley Stream continue to have the highest Covid-19 positive cases in Nassau County, according to the County Department of Health.  

There were 2,269 confirmed cases in Baldwin as of Jan. 13, according to the county’s records. The number of cases has gradually risen in recent weeks. 

While the infection rate in Freeport dropped over the summer, with only about 100 cases confirmed every month, the rate has continued to rise in recent weeks and months, with the latest trend showing nearly 300 new cases confirmed each week in the village.

Mulé said she hoped more PPE and social distancing would help curb the numbers, as well as the distribution of vaccines to first responders and older seniors. “We have to remain vigilant,” she said. “We need to stay home as much as possible and do our part to overcome this pandemic.”