In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Milwaukee-based health and community groups have come together to create the MaskUpMKE initiative. The goal of the project is to get more face masks into the hands of first responders and community members.
Since launching MaskUpMKE in late April, nearly 1.5 million face coverings have been made for the community. The goal is to distribute 2.5 million throughout the community according to Alex Lasry, senior vice president of the Milwaukee Bucks, one of the organizations involved in the initiative.
“I think there are a lot of people that are seeing what this virus is doing around the country and how important it is to ensure we are all fighting this together,” Lasry said. “MaskUpMKE is one of those ways where we can help fight this together.”
Volunteers must meet specific requirements to be eligible to assemble the masks such as not testing positive for COVID-19 at any time, not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms in the past four weeks, and not being in contact with anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
The organizations responsible for the MaskUpMKE collaboration include: United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County, Rebel Converting LLC, the Milwaukee Bucks and Fiserv Forum, Medical College of Wisconsin, Zilber Family Foundation, Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity, and the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.
United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County are handling volunteer coordination through their website, while Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity is handling the distribution of finished face coverings.
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Rebel Converting is committed to donating materials to make 3.5 million face coverings to help meet the ne for person protective equipment according to Thaddeus Kryshak, assistant engineer at Rebel Converting.
Rebel Converting started producing materials for the kits at the beginning of April.
‘There have been reports that say if people were wearing masks, you’d see cases of spread decline significantly,” Lasry said. “For us to be able to produce and assemble 1.5 million masks and be able to get them out into the community I think that is a huge step forward in Milwaukee being able to fight this virus and eventually reopen again.”