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Connecticut arts foundation mobilises to help healthcare workers as the state risks becoming a new coronavirus 'hotspot'

Grace Farms has launched a $2.5m relief fund and an initiative to deliver protective equipment to local medical centres as Covid-19 cases in the state spike

The New Canaan Fire Department picks up PPEs at Grace Farms in Connecticut for distribution to healthcare workers and first responders in the area. Courtesy of Grace Farms

As coronavirus (Covid-19) cases spike in Connecticut and the state finds itself at risk of becoming a new "hotspot" for the pandemic, the arts foundation Grace Farms has launched a $2.5m relief fund to help alleviate the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers in the region. The foundation, located in New Canaan, Connecticut, has also created an initiative, called the Grace Farms Alliance Against Covid-19, to ensure the quick delivery of the equipment and other medical necessities to area medical centres.

The initiative aims to “effectively navigate the complex bureaucratic roadblocks” around the distribution of medical equipment amid the Covid-19 crisis, according to a statement from the foundation.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), shortages of gloves, medical masks and respirators due to disrupted supply chains are leaving doctors, nurses and other frontline workers dangerously ill-equipped to care for Covid-19 patients. In the US, federal shortages and mismanagement of equipment have left states bidding against each other to secure supplies.

Grace Farms's relief fund has so far delivered 120,000 respirator masks, more than 32,000 surgical masks, and 4,000 isolation coveralls to more than a dozen area hospitals such as Stamford Health and Yale New Haven. The funds have been gathered with private donations and will benefit healthcare workers in the Fairfield and New Haven counties, which are about 75 miles from New York City.

Around $250,000 from the relief fund has been donated to the Helena Foundation’s Covid Network, a San Francisco-based non-profit, open-source platform that allows organisations in critical need of medical supplies to request help from suppliers. The network, which has raised more than $17m, has secured and delivered more than six million supplies to medical centres across the US.

“In times of global crisis, the nature of the game is coordination and speed,” says Henry Elkus, the founder of the Helena Foundation.

Grace Farms is also working with volunteers to prepare and deliver food and supplies for those in need in New Canaan and the surrounding communities, and plans to reach at least 1,000 individuals each week. The foundation continues seeking donations to ensure the relief fund can continue throughout the pandemic crisis.

Such efforts to curb the escalating crisis “makes it clear that pressing humanitarian issues can be solved when the public, private and not-for-profit sectors collaborate locally and globally”, says the Grace Farms chief executive Sharon Prince.

The 80-acre space, which was established in 2015 and contains permanent installations by artists such as Olafur Eliasson and Teresita Fernández, remains closed to the public per recommendations by the WHO and state officials.