NBA Brooklyn Nets’ owner and Alibaba co-founder Joe Tsai donated $1.6 million worth of personal protective equipment (PPE) to the University of California, San Diego to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
The donation, which contained 500,000 medical-grade masks and goggles imported from China, were given to UCSD and will be used and shared with health care systems and hospitals in the region and possibly in other areas of California, according to San Diego Union-Tribune.
Sharp Medical Center Chula Vista is one of the first immediate stops for the $1.6 million PPE due to its critical need for the equipment.
“We really wanted to help the front-line workers,” Clara, who is Joe’s wife, told the publication on Saturday. “Largely our plan is (to send the supplies) to UCSD hospitals, Sharp, Scripps, Palomar, Kaiser and the VA.”
“If there’s extra (supplies) to warehouse or prepare for the future, great. But we need these things to be used now where they’re needed. If that happens to be L.A., Santa Monica, that’s where it needs to go.”
“Our experience of watching this unfold in China is that front-line hospital workers can get infected through not just the nose and mouth, but also through their eyes,” Joe added.
It is because of that reason that they were intent on importing 130,000 radiation protection goggles.
The Tsais contacted UCSD Chancellor Pradeep Khosla to ask how they could help the region.
“Our university is privileged to play a role in assisting Joe and Clara in providing their generous donation of masks and goggles to health care institutions in the greater San Diego community and other parts of California,” Khosla said via Times of San Diego. “This equipment is invaluable as our region prepares for a likely surge in the number of patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Tsai regularly commutes back to San Diego but resides in Hong Kong. San Diego became the summer residence of the family in 2002, and they continued to visit until 2013 when most of the members moved there.
“San Diego appeals to us because we love the California weather,” Tsai said. “But we also love the fact that it is a very community-oriented town. It’s not massive like L.A., where you have to drive everywhere. It’s also got a lot more diversity than the Bay Area.”
UC San Diego Health, the first local health system to care for patients who were affected by COVID-19 in the region, thanked the Tsais for their donation.
“Since we first became aware of COVID-19, UC San Diego Health made immediate efforts to secure the necessary medical and surgical supplies to protect and prepare our frontline health care workers,” CEO Patty Maysent said. “We are deeply grateful for this donation that further strengthens our ability to keep our health care workers safe as well as our ability to safely care for the community during the anticipated surge.”
The couple is involved in several programs on campus, including in the Associate of the Chancellor’s Thought Leaders Group where Clara is a member. Joe is also involved in the 21st Century China Program at UCSD’s School of Global Policy and Strategy.
Tsai, who also owns the San Diego Seals indoor lacrosse team, also donated millions of medical supplies and thousands of ventilators to New York City hospitals earlier this month.
Feature Image via Getty