In a COVID-19 hotspot, a race to supply New Jersey’s healthcare workers with PPE

Published April 30, 2020

There’s an ongoing effort to obtain enough protective face masks for healthcare professionals to meet the need in New Jersey, where the number of COVID-19 cases is the second highest in the nation. Help is coming from a long-time healthcare partner: Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey.

New Jersey has the second highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country, second only to New York.

Answering the urgent call for protective masks

As the number of cases mounts, the state has been facing such a serious shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as face masks for healthcare professionals that New Jersey state government authorized police to commandeer medical supplies to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. While some PPE has arrived from the national stockpile and other sources, it hasn’t been enough to keep up with demand. And the costs—to healthcare workers without adequate protection and to the state’s budget—are climbing.

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey has answered the call for help by spending more than $2 million—the biggest charitable donation in the company’s history—to buy 500,000 N95 respirator masks and 81,000 face shields for healthcare workers. The state’s coordinated COVID-19 response effort is distributing that equipment to healthcare facilities most in need.

Supplies of PPE were dwindling

This donation comes at a time when healthcare facilities have been trying to stretch supplies in ways no one could have imagined until now, using a range of strategies recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for maximizing PPE supplies.

Cathy Bennett, president and CEO of the New Jersey Hospital Association, says the donation of protective masks will help healthcare facilities avoid those kinds of workarounds as they cope with a growing number of cases. “On a given day, the state’s hospitals are caring for more than 7,000 COVID-19 patients,” says Bennett. “Working together, we can help replenish the state’s PPE supply to ensure our front line healthcare workers can continue to provide world class care while keeping themselves and their loved ones safe.”

“We are working closely with the many community organizations we support to ensure they can continue delivering the essential services that so many depend on and meet the new demands created by the pandemic.”- Kevin Conlin, Executive Chairman, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey

Continuing to support the most urgent needs

Horizon BCBSNJ has also donated $2 million to The New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund, which directs funding to nonprofits that provide essential services, such as food banks. Horizon BCBSNJ’s Executive Chairman Kevin P. Conlin says the health plan will continue to identify and respond to urgent needs across the state—for healthcare professionals and more.

Horizon BCBSNJ's President and CEO Gary D. St. Hilaire says the health plan will continue to identify and respond to urgent needs across the state--for healthcare professionals and more. 

Learn more about Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, an association of independent, locally operated Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies.