DOWNTOWN — Dozens of aldermen gathered outside the Thompson Center Tuesday morning as local businessman and ex-mayoral candidate Willie Wilson dolled out 20,000 masks for all of Chicago’s 50 wards.
A wall of boxes containing the 1 million masks lined Randolph Street and aldermen showed up to pick up the boxes by the truckload. Wilson owns a medical supply company.
Ald. Ed Burke (14th) presented Wilson with a with a Chicago City Council Special Aide badge — and thanked him with a fist bump.
Ald. Jim Gardiner (45th) praised Wilson, saying he looks forward to having a working relationship with the former mayoral candidate. Aldermen are expected to distribute the masks throughout their wards, Winslow said.
The event garnered fervent support and camaraderie from the aldermen in attendance, although social distancing was not strictly enforced nor practiced.
Large automobiles and trucks from the wards queued up along Clark and Randolph during the commotion as aldermen and officials loaded in the boxes. Chicago Police were on hand facilitate the flow of traffic.
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, Wilson spokesman Scott Winslow said. Wilson has sold 400-500 million masks across the world since the coronavirus pandemic began, he said.
“Senior citizens, residents living in underserved communities, the needy all need masks to protect themselves from COVID-19 and to comply with Governor Pritzker’s order,” Wilson said in a press release for the event.
Wilson has already donated 1 million masks to Chicago hospitals, Cook County Jail, senior homes, the Chicago Transit Authority and other agencies, Winslow said.
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