CHICAGO — Local businessman and former mayoral candidate Willie Wilson will donate 1 million protective face masks to Chicago residents in an effort to ensure the city’s must vulnerable residents have face coverings.
Wilson, who owns a medical supply company, will donate 20,000 masks to each of the city’s 50 aldermen, the businessman announced late Monday. A group of aldermen will join Wilson on Tuesday outside the Thompson Center to announce the donation.
Wilson has already donated 1 million masks to Chicago hospitals, Cook County Jail, senior homes, the Chicago Transit Authority and other agencies, said spokesman Scott Winslow. Aldermen are expected to distribute the masks throughout their wards, Winslow said.
“Senior citizens, residents living in underserved communities, the needy all need face masks to protect themselves from COVID-19 and to comply with Governor [JB] Pritzker’s order,” Wilson said in a statement.
The donation comes after Wilson sought to sell protective masks and other medical equipment to the city and state, but Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Pritzker balked at the deals.
The masks earmarked for sale to the city are not necessarily the same ones being donated, Winslow said. Wilson has sold 400 million-500 million masks throughout the world since the pandemic began, he said.
Last week, Pritzker announced Illinois residents will be required to cover their faces in public when distancing of 6 feet or more is not possible.
The masks will be on hand for Tuesday’s press conference, and aldermen will begin receiving the masks then, Winslow said.
“We warned the aldermen to come with a pickup truck,” Winslow said.
Wilson, who has previously run for mayor of Chicago and president, has pledged to donate $1 million to area churches and another $1 million to those who have lost their jobs. Wilson is running for the U.S. Senate against longtime Sen. Dick Durbin.
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