Sheltering in place is meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus, but it can have the opposite effect in situations where people live in close proximity to each other. Nursing homes have had this issue, while correctional facilities have struggled as well. Now, to help curb the pandemic’s impact on inmates and guards, Madonna and Meek Mill have teamed up to donate 100,000 surgical masks to prisons and jails across the country.
The pop icon’s Ray of Light Foundation has partnered with the rapper’s REFORM Alliance for the charitable effort. A criminal justice organization co-founded by JAY-Z, REFORM is led by CEO Van Jones (a former Obama advisor) and co-chairman Michael Rubin (co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers). Apparel company Pair of Thieves, nonprofit The Bail Project, anti-gun violence group Lipstick, and criminal reform group Dream Corps are also part of the donation initiative.
50,000 of the masks are going to Chicago’s Cook County Jail, which has been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus. To date, six inmates have died, while 235 have tested positive and 192 have recovered. Among the prison’s staff, 210 employees have tested positive and 120 have recovered (via CBS News).
The Louisiana Department of Corrections will be given 20,000 masks, while the remaining 30,000 will be split between California’s Vacaville Prison, FCI Ray Brook in New York, and the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department in Massachusetts.
“More than 2 million lives in prisons across America are currently at stake due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Rubin said in a statement. “It’s absolutely crucial that we protect our inmates and prison staff, especially since social distancing guidelines are difficult to abide by in these facilities.”
This is the second face masks donation REFORM has led this month. They previously contributed another 100,000 masks to facilities in Mississippi and New York City.
We teamed up with @Madonna @PairOfThieves @bailproject and @cut_50 to secure 100k MORE MASKS FOR PEOPLE BEHIND BARS 🤝 We need to stop #COVID19 from spreading inside of prisons if we want to stop it from spreading outside of prison walls, too #NoPrisonPandemic pic.twitter.com/tsmS0ek9Fu
— REFORM Alliance (@REFORM) April 22, 2020