Jason Lu, owner Lu Kitchen & Bath in Fresno, picks up a shipment of masks for local hospitals. Lu and other members of the Central California Chinese Cultural Association have collected thousands of masks for health care workers in the region.
Written by Donald A. Promnitz
As COVID-19 shuts down companies across the country, the Chinese American business community of the Central Valley has come together to provide much-needed supplies to the doctors and nurses currently fighting the pandemic.
To be more specific, it’s been a call to action to collect surgical masks for local health care workers. According to Harrison Song, president of the Central California Chinese Cultural Association (CCCCA) in Fresno, the decision to acquire masks was made in a group chat at the start of the pandemic. With around 200 members, CCCA is the largest Chinese association in the Central Valley, Song said. It is home to more than 10,000 people of Chinese ancestry.
“It was not hard to make the decision,” Song said. “It’s our community, so we have to do something.”
Since most masks are currently being made in China, Song explained that they have access to some of the suppliers who sell the masks while others have been donated to their cause. Saint Agnes Medical Center has been the main recipient so far, but the CCCCA is also working with Valley Children’s Healthcare and Community Medical Centers
Jason Lu, the owner of Lu Kitchen & Bath in Fresno and the CCCCA, has emerged as one of the principal leaders of the effort. Since the decision was made to start collecting masks, he’s purchased 13,000 masks and received 4,000. On Tuesday, he picked up 6,000 more to go to local hospitals.
Lu arrived in the U.S. in 2001 and since he went into business, has opened up four locations in the Valley. For him, this was the opportunity to return the favor to a country that has allowed him to prosper.
“Friends and family in China, they suffered a horrible time during the pandemic, so what I heard was that the people who wore masks have less chance to get the virus,” Lu said. “Especially in China, Korea and Japan, and we’re seeing it in the European countries, so why not the U.S.A.?”
Lu has received the masks from Universal Meditech, Inc., a Fresno company that manufactures in vitro diagnostic (IVD) devices. Universal, meanwhile, has gotten them from them from a sister company in Qingdao.
“The masks are from China and so we have a distributer’s license,” explained Karekin Khatchadoorian, Universal Meditech manager. “So now we’ve decided to distribute the masks while we’re manufacturing our IVD, so we’re partaking in mask distribution as well at the same time.”
Song also picked up masks from Universal, and there’s a further effort to purchase N95 respirators, with Lu already buying some, he said.
“As many masks as are needed and as they’re needed,” Lu explained. “And I try to do my best to do as I can in my capacity.”