A call went out just hours before the labs shut down across campus as part of the University-wide social-distancing push to combat the spread of the coronavirus, and faculty and staff responded immediately.
“We had a lot of PPE [personal protective equipment] that was no longer being used on site that could be put to good use,” said Sarah Elwell, director of research operations for science and engineering. Last Wednesday, Christopher Stubbs and Frank Doyle, the deans of the Division of Science and the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, respectively, sent emails to their faculties with a message that was quickly shared with colleagues: As you shut off the lights and lock the door, please put out your PPEs. Similar support came in from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard School of Dental Medicine, and Harvard Medical School labs.
“Members of our community are on the front lines taking care of patients,” said Jennifer Ryan, chief of staff at Harvard Medical School, where thousands of essential supplies have come in from labs across campus. “We heard about the shortages and our researchers quickly mobilized to donate needed supplies. It is so rewarding to see the community act individually and collectively to assist each other and work to keep us all safe.”
The request was a response to a national outcry from health care professionals, clinics, and hospitals about a dire shortage of masks, gowns, gloves, and protective eye gear. Principal investigators and lab staff left boxes outside their locked labs, collecting thousands of essential supplies like nitrile gloves, N95 masks, protective eye guards, surgical and procedure face masks, and disposable Tyvek lab coats.
“I saw all these boxes and my heart sang,” said Elwell.