Basement discovery at National Cathedral leads to mask donations to hospitals

A recently-remembered stash of 5,000 N95 masks was retrieved from the crypt of the National Cathedral for donation to two D.C.-area hospitals. (Courtesy Danielle E. Thomas/Washington National Cathedral)
A recently-remembered stash of 5,000 N95 masks was retrieved from the crypt of the National Cathedral for donation to two D.C.-area hospitals. (Courtesy Danielle E. Thomas/Washington National Cathedral)
Washington National Cathedral dean the Very Rev. Randolph Marshall Hollerith helps load N95 masks for donation to local hospitals. (Courtesy Danielle E. Thomas/Washington National Cathedral)
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More than a decade ago, the Washington National Cathedral purchased thousands of the now highly-sought N95 masks just in case the bird flu ever started wreaking havoc here. It didn’t.

But ever since they were bought sometime in 2006 or 2007, about 5,000 masks have sat in the crypt of the National Cathedral. Now, they’ve been brought out and are being donated to two D.C.-area hospitals to help put a dent in the growing need for equipment being felt all across the U.S.

“We have a member of our staff who has been on staff for years and remembered that they were down there,” said Rev. Randy Hollerith, the dean of the National Cathedral. “They’re all in sealed crates, never been opened. And they’re still good.”

Hollerith said about 3,000 of the masks are being donated to MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

The other 2,000 masks that were found are being donated to Children’s National Hospital, which has also seen both providers and patients become diagnosed with the virus.

“We’re thrilled to be able to have something coming out of this cathedral, even though the building is closed, that can help a lot of wonderful folks,” Hollerith said.

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