Community spirit is alive and well in Longford and, while everyone is being mindful and keeping their distance from others, people are also banding together to ensure our front line workers are looked after.
Midlands Regional Hospital Mullingar a few days ago put out a call for businesses and enterprises with access to a supply of Personal Protective Equipment to donate their supply to healthcare workers who were running low.
Ballymahon Vocational School sprang into action to provide the hospital with almost 100 sets of goggles/glasses from their science rooms to ensure workers had essential eye protection while on the front line of the Covid-19 crisis.
Also quick to jump to the aid of the HSE was Ardagh-based Jacinta Baxter. Jacinta runs her own Facebook business at Jacinta Baxter Designsand has been encouraging her followers to knit or crochet a square for every day in isolation, with the aim of putting them all together to make a quilt when all of this is over.
But in the past week, she has taken up a new project and started to fashion face masks from cotton, which she will be donating to healthcare workers.
"I have been asked by numerous people to make masks for heath care workers. I will make as many of these as I possibly can and donate them to people who need them," she said, adding that the masks are not for sale and will be donated only to those who need them.
"These obviously will not protect in the same way as a surgical mask but I have been told they can be worn over surgical masks to prolong the life of them. They also stop you touching your face. In some cases they will be used because there simply is nothing else available. They can be boil washed.
"I'm hoping to make a couple of hundred of these, I've had requests from, nurses, carers, paramedics.. ideally I would like to give as many as I am asked for. If you have a pack of new pillow cases or new sheets at home that you can donate to me to make more it would be greatly appreciated," she added.
Also quick to answer the call was Longford Community Resources clg. LCRL staff members Garry Murtagh and Gerry Smyth were on hand yesterday to bring PPE items to the local HSE clinic where vital front line services "greatly require these items and more during these worrying times".
"We were able to donate all our spare goggles, gloves, disposable aprons, hats and masks, which we had through our Tús and RSS schemes which we run. Our participants use these items through their work with local care and social service agencies, creches and other community groups all over the county. We hope it will go a small way in helping hard working health service employees to stay safe."
A HSE briefing this morning revealed that the government has already spent more than twice its annual budget for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) since January.
On any given year, €15m is spent for 500,000 masks, 200,000 eye protection sets, 100,000 gowns and four million gloves.
Since January, the government has spent €30m to deliver 1.2million masks, 400,000 eye protection, 500,000 gowns and 6.3million gloves.
A major delivery from China is due to arrive in Ireland today with the first ten flights to provide the country with 1.6million masks, 400,000 eye protection, 265,000 gowns and 253,000 gloves.