LOCAL NEWS

Church To Donate Masks, Coveralls, Goggles To China Over Coronavirus Outbreak

Jan 29, 2020, 9:12 AM | Updated: 9:27 am
Warehouse workers load supplies as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sends aid to Chi...
Warehouse workers load supplies as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sends aid to China in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020. (Derek Petersen, KSL TV)
(Derek Petersen, KSL TV)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — President Russell M. Nelson’s 40-year professional relationships in China are facilitating a donation of supplies from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that will help Chinese health workers in their effort to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

The church loaded 220,000 particulate respirator masks, more than 6,500 pairs of protective hospital coveralls and 870 pairs of protective goggles at two bishop’s central storehouses in Salt Lake City and Atlanta on Wednesday morning.

Workers at the Bishop’s Central Storehouse and Deseret Transportation in western Salt Lake City loaded some 79 pallets of the protective gear onto trucks and transported them to the airport, where one of two planes chartered by Project HOPE will carry the church supplies to China. The church is partnering with the health-oriented preventive education charity to facilitate its donation to a children’s hospital.

“These are our dear brothers and sisters,” President Nelson said in a statement, “and we feel privileged to be able to offer some small measure of help. We pray for them, and know God will bless them.”

The coronavirus is a new virus with no vaccine or treatment, and finding a vaccine will take months, according to the Harvard Business Review.

The only way to limit its transmission for now is to isolate those who are infected. Known cases of the virus rose nearly 60 percent overnight from Monday to Tuesday, and so far it has killed 107 people, according to a Johns Hopkins University database.

The World Health Organization raised its global risk assessment to high on Tuesday, when various news organizations referred to the outbreak as an epidemic that has spread to 14 countries.

The United States has seen five cases of the virus, but all are in patients who had traveled to China. The virus has not spread from those travelers to anyone else in the United States so far.

Warehouse workers load supplies as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sends aid to China in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020.  (Derek Petersen, KSL TV) Warehouse workers load supplies as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sends aid to China in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020.  (Derek Petersen, KSL TV) Warehouse workers load supplies as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sends aid to China in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020.  (Derek Petersen, KSL TV) Warehouse workers load supplies as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sends aid to China in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020. Respirator masks, protective googles and protective suits are being sent. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

However, the number of confirmed cases in China jumped from 2,835 on Monday to 4,515 on Tuesday, the New York Times reported. Officials believe the outbreak originated in Wuhan, a city in the center of China. China and Hong Kong have restricted travel in the effort to contain the virus.

The United States is now screening passengers at 20 airports and five land crossings. Americans also are curtailing trips to China. United Airlines announced Tuesday it was cutting back on flights to China because of declining demand.

China agreed Tuesday to allow international health experts to aid its containment and research efforts. Project HOPE received approval the same day to ship the church’s supplies.

The supplies are headed to the Children’s Medical Center in Shanghai, which ran out of protective gear just as its case load exploded. Medical centers in Wuhan have received international aid.

Church officials said they are working with other Chinese agencies to determine what other needs it might meet.

The church’s leader, President Nelson, has strong ties to the country, including an official 2015 declaration donating him as an “Old Friend of China.”

He introduced open-heart surgery to China in 1980 after following a spiritual prompting to begin learning Chinese. In 1985, he successfully performed an open-heart operation on the nation’s most famous opera star, Fang Rongxiang. It was his final operation. He had retired as a cardiac surgeon the previous year when he accepted a calling to become an apostle. He received special permission from church leaders to travel to China for one final procedure.

The Deseret News published an account of that operation in 2015.

In 2015, President Nelson returned to China, where he was honored at the Shandong University School of Medicine, where he pioneered heart surgery in the country. Doctors at the school now perform 2,000 heart operations each year. During that visit, he was honored by doctors, the opera star’s family and many others. He also was presented with the declaration as an “Old Friend of China.”

Three Chinese universities have awarded him honorary professorships.

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Church To Donate Masks, Coveralls, Goggles To China Over Coronavirus Outbreak