Hundreds of University researchers donate personal protection equipment from labs

The University has collected tens of thousands of pairs of gloves and hundreds of N95 masks from researcher donations.

A community collection box for COVID-19 PPE donations sits outside of the Fay Thompson Center for Environmental Management on Tuesday, April 7. This collection is part of a larger campus effort to consolidate PPE and provide it to healthcare workers.

Andy Kosier

A community collection box for COVID-19 PPE donations sits outside of the Fay Thompson Center for Environmental Management on Tuesday, April 7. This collection is part of a larger campus effort to consolidate PPE and provide it to healthcare workers.

Farrah Mina and Abbey Machtig

A University of Minnesota task force is collecting gloves, masks and other supplies from labs across the University in an effort to aid clinics, testing labs and hospitals combating COVID-19.

Hundreds of University researchers have contributed their laboratory supply of personal protection equipment, or PPE, to the cause. The University has stockpiled tens of thousands of pairs of gloves and hundreds of N95 masks, as well as swabs, gowns and disinfecting wipes. 

“The effort to collect PPE from across the University was driven by two things — a growing realization that PPE would be in high demand and short supply, and our fantastic research faculty, staff and students, who realized they had PPE available in their labs … that could be prioritized for use by health care workers,” University spokesperson Caitlin Hurley said in an email. 

The donation effort across the University has been coordinated by the Vice President for Research’s office. Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has also reached out to veterinary and health professionals surrounding the donation of supplies.

Supplies are being collected at the Fay Thompson Center for Environmental Management on campus. 

“When I started hearing about the PPE shortages, I got on the phone and tried to make contact with the University leadership to let them know that I had these essential masks available,” said Matthew Aliota, assistant professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine. “For me, it was just the obvious thing to do.”

M Health Fairview — which has received supplies from the University — has collected thousands of gloves and masks from donations alone. 

“We are deeply grateful to the organizations and individuals who have donated PPE and additional resources for our healthcare workers,” said Aimee Jordan, a spokesperson for the hospital. 

Other research labs and universities around the country are also involved in personal protection equipment donations.

“I think there’s just an incredible push everywhere to try and provide as much of these much-needed supplies as possible by any and all means. I know there are other local approaches from other hospitals and communities and so everybody’s trying to accomplish the same thing,” said Jerry Torrison, director of the University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

The donation of these supplies is crucial to supporting the practical problems facing healthcare professionals, testing and clinics due to COVID-19, Torrison said.

“These are some very practical problems that are very practical challenges that we all have to pull together to try and solve,” Torrison said. “If people on the front lines need equipment and materials that we can provide, then everyone should reach into their coverage and try and find anything that they have.”