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The owner of a Jackson-based company wants to ensure that workers on the front line in the battle against COVID-19 have enough masks to protect themselves from infection.

To that end, Kim Gamez, who owns Mi Padrino, an international events company that organizes Quinceañeras, weddings and baptisms in the Hispanic cultural tradition, has launched a campaign, Masks for Michigan, to raise money to buy protective equipment for health-care workers.

State officials said Monday that 184 Michigan residents have lost their lives to COVID-19, with a total of 6,498 cases reported.

"Already in Michigan, our friends and neighbors who work for the state’s health care system have reported that because of shortages they are reusing masks. This places them, their families, and ultimately their patients at an unacceptable risk of COVID-19 infection," Gamez said in a statement. "We can’t sit around and wait for a political solution, we can and must act now to protect our real-life Michigan heroes."

Gamez added, "We can’t do it alone. In order to get the first shipment we need donations from people like you. No donation is too small, every penny counts!" 

 Gamez, a Jackson native and owner of MiPadrino, says "100%" of the proceeds raised through the Masks For Michigan campaign will go to buying supplies for front- line workers. Gamez's goal is to buy 100,000 masks but she wants to start with ordering 5,000 this week.

"I'm not the only one doing this. I'm part of an army," Gamez told The News Tuesday about her efforts. "I'm using my knowledge of technology to help."

Gamez's company uses suppliers all over the world, and she says one manufacturer has offered to supply Michigan with N95 masks if she could find buyers or donors.

Chelsea Hess, a Jackson-area health care worker, said the effort by Gamez is going "to save lives." Hess said the shortage of medical supplies such as masks is not just a problem affecting Michigan but hospitals around the country and globe.

"We're so grateful for her stepping up for the community," said Hess, who works in radiology. "Just this simple measure is such a huge (gesture) for all of us."

For more information about the Masks for Michigan campaign, log on to Michiganmasks.com.

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