Originally published by Louisville Business First. Read the full article here.

United Parcel Service Inc. has partnered with Louisville-based nonprofit SOS (formerly known as Supplies Over Seas) to send medical gear to coronavirus-stricken China.

This week volunteers from UPS and SOS packed up 32 pallets of medical supplies that were then shipped to Shanghai, China — the shipment arrived Wednesday — to be distributed to facilities in need.

Supplies included personal protection items like antiviral face masks, surgical gowns and eye protection gear to protect medical workers as they treat patients in China, according to SOS CEO Denise Sears.

The items are meant to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, which has infected more than 47,000 people in China and more than 500 people around the globe, resulting in 1,381 deaths in China and 24 in other countries, according to a Friday media briefing from the World Health Organization.

SOS, which was founded in 1993 by members of the Greater Louisville Medical Society as a response to the waste created by Louisville’s medical system, collects surplus supplies from hospitals to divert them from local landfills and redistribute them to clinics and hospitals around the world that are in need.

“The SOS team including volunteers and our corporate partner UPS worked tirelessly for 48 hours to prepare this shipment of critically needed medical supplies,” Spears said in an email. “Our goal was to help save lives and contain the virus to prevent its continuous spread which could create a major global threat.”

Helping those in need

Hundreds of volunteers from local schools and corporations helped prepare these medical supplies for redistribution so that they were ready when there was a health care need, such as that presented by the coronavirus, Sears added.

UPS and the UPS Foundation, which has supported SOS for going on five years, provided in-kind ground and air transport, as well as volunteers, for the supplies, which were transported to Chicago en route to Shanghai.

The Louisville campaign is part of a wider effort by the UPS Foundation to provide aid to coronavirus victims, including teaming with Georgia-based nonprofit health organizations MAP International and MedShare to transport more than two million respirator masks, 11,000 protective coveralls and 280,000 pairs of nitrile gloves to China.

UPS coordinated that humanitarian flight through the Red Cross Society of China.

“Our long-time partner SOS has played a key role in responding to this crisis, providing critical protective masks and other medical supplies,” Eduardo Martinez, president of The UPS Foundation and UPS chief diversity and inclusion officer, said in a news release. “SOS is one of four relief partner organizations we are supporting on this current flight.”

Responding to crises

Apart from this week’s shipment with UPS, SOS has provided personal protection items that were delivered to medical workers in Hong Kong and areas throughout Southeast Asia.

SOS redistributes medical supplies and equipment year-round to healthcare partners in need, including local free health clinics, hospitals in developing countries that lack the most basic medical supplies and regions suffering from natural disasters or pandemics, according to Sears.

A few months ago, SOS partnered with UPS to ship needed medical equipment, such as hospital beds and wheelchairs to Grand Bahama after Hurricane Dorian.

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