Oakland District Four Councilmember Sheng Thao
(Last Updated On: May 18, 2020)


Oakland – In partnership with AAPI Women Lead, theUCSF Center for Child and Community Health, UCSF Black Women’s Health & Livelihood Initiative, UCSF National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health, Oakland Firefighters, Jobs and Housing Coalition, labor unions, community leaders, philanthropic partners, and private enterprises, Oakland City Councilmember Sheng Thao is proud to announce the launch of Project MASC for Oakland (Mutual Aid and Safety Campaign for Oakland). Project MASC for Oakland is a campaign to fundraise for, procure and rapidly distribute 30,000 reusable cloth face masks and public health information to vulnerable communities in Oakland. These communities include the unhoused, low-income families, and other under-resourced adults, children, youth, and families.

This effort follows the recent Alameda County Masking Order, which requires anyone over the age of 12 to wear a face covering at essential business. According to the language of the Order, violation or failure to comply with this order is a misdemeanor punishable by fine, imprisonment or both. The Order, according to the Alameda County Public Health Department, is critical to flattening the curve. Success in achieving this goal requires a largescale effort to support vulnerable communities in getting access to accurate public health information as well as reusable cloth masks. The research is clear that vulnerable and marginalized communities, particularly Black, Indigenous, Latinx, other immigrant, and low-income communities, are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and its social and economic impacts.

“We must make sure that we take every action we can to flatten the curve and protect our most vulnerable Oaklanders,” stated Councilmember Thao, “but not everyone has access to a masks; not everyone can afford to purchase or has the ability to make their own masks. This is why we’ve organized this effort to get as many masks into the hands of our neighbors as possible.”

The Campaign will work with various organizations and groups to ensure that unhoused and marginalized residents receive them first.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has uncovered multiple underlying racial and socioeconomic disparities in our communities,” said Dayna Long, MD, Director, UCSF Center for Child and Community Health. “MASC for Oakland enables us to meet urgent safety needs in our most vulnerable communities. Supporting local efforts is core to who we are at UCSF and underscores our commitment to achieving health equity for all.”

“During this public health crisis, this project will support organizations and community groups that are working to take care of our communities, particularly our most marginalized populations. This includes unhoused communities, Black and Latinx neighbors, different immigrant groups, disabled communities, and other under-resourced populations. We want to draw on our resources to support one another, especially our most vulnerable.” says Dr. Connie Wun, PhD, co-founder AAPI Women Lead.

“Black, Latinx, Indigenous and other communities of color have been subject to violence and discrimination for generations,” said Judy Young, MPH, Executive Director, UCSF National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health & The Black Women’s Health and Livelihood Initiative. “Undoing that violence requires focused action to support communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. MASC for Oakland is what we have to do right now.”

This initiative relies on generous donations, if you or someone you know would like to make a contribution, please donate at https://donorbox.org/mutualaidforoakland.

Zac Ungar, President of IAFF Local 55 states, “Whether it’s fighting a fire or providing masks to the community, Oakland’s firefighters are proud to do whatever it takes to keep this town safe and healthy.”

“The Coronavirus is an invisible enemy. Councilmember Sheng Thao is giving us an opportunity to make visible our love for the most vulnerable among us. That’s why the Alameda Labor Council is supporting this project to distribute cotton face masks and flatten the curve.” says Liz Ortega-Toro, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alameda Labor Council.

“At times like these we depend on the kindness and empathy that make Oakland such a wonderful place to live,” said the Councilmember “I am so proud and thankful to live and represent such a wonderful city. We will get through this together, as a community.”


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