The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts asked federal courts nationwide to search their buildings for medical supplies after two trial courts in Florida found and donated much needed respirator masks and gloves in their courthouses.
The 1,200 N95 masks found by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida and 300 masks and 2,000 gloves found by the Middle District of Florida were donated to hospitals in the area.
Northern District of Florida courthouse workers “recalled that the masks had been acquired more than a decade earlier to protect employees from possible anthrax attacks,” the administrative office said Wednesday in a press statement announcing the discovery and contribution.
The supplies are needed by medical professionals on the front lines of fighting the coronavirus pandemic in the nation’s hospitals. According to the CDC, N95 masks are important because they filter 95% of large and small particles in the air.
“Nothing reinforced how important our donation was than having the lab director for one of the hospitals break down in tears as the masks were delivered,” Jessica Lyublanovits, clerk of court for the Northern District of Florida said in a statement from the AO.
Florida’s Northern District includes Tallahassee, Pensacola, Panama City and Gainesville. The Middle District spans Tampa on the state’s Gulf coast and Jacksonville, on the Atlantic.
Other courts are already reporting similar discoveries.
On Wednesday, the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico announced it was in the process of donating “450 N95 masks, plus hundreds of gloves, boxes of paper gowns, and other needed items like goggles and procedure masks” to hospitals.
“The surplus equipment was purchased back in 2008 after the Anthrax alert, but can now be put to use to aid local healthcare providers in desperate need of supplies,” the court said in a Wednesday statement.
The effort is “an example of one small way the federal Judiciary can help the greater cause of fighting this deadly virus,” AO Director James C. Duff said in his agency’s statement.
The call to search from the U.S. Courts applies to federal courts, federal public defenders’ offices, and probation and pretrial services offices, the courts office said in a statement.
—With assistance from Pat Joy