A group of business leaders, tech giants, and celebrities, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, have teamed up to launch a GoFundMe campaign to help combat the medical supply shortage amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The Frontline Responders Fund—organized by Schwarzenegger, filmmaker Edward Norton, philanthropist Ron Conway, Flexport CEO Ryan Petersen, and GoFundMe Chairman Rob Solomon—launched on Tuesday and is seeking $5 million in donations in order to deliver personal protective equipment (PPE) to frontline medical responders in hospitals nationwide. By time of publication, roughly $2.7 million had already been raised.
“Our doctors, nurses, and hospital staff are the real action heroes of this crisis. I just play one in the movies,” Schwarzenegger said in a statement obtained by The Daily Beast. “With all of the courageous work they are doing on the frontlines to keep us safe, buying a few hundred thousand masks with a million dollars is the least I can do.”
Health care professionals around the world are scrambling to accommodate the unprecedented demand for supplies to treat the virus that has already infected over 46,000 Americans and killed over 500, forcing many doctors, nurses, and hospital staff to treat patients without adequate protection.
The new star-studded campaign seeks to provide funding for the “shortage of masks, gowns, gloves, and other critical supplies to protect our medical professionals in hospitals” in a seemingly implicit recognition that the federal government either cannot or will not fill the supply void.
The donations will also be used in coordination with airline companies, medical supplies, shipping companies, and “everyone in-between” to ensure timely supplies to the health care workers that need them most.
As of Tuesday morning, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey donated $25,000 to the cause, while venture investor Chris Sacca and Crystal English Sacca jointly gave $250,000. Schwarzenegger and computer scientist Paul Graham have each donated $1 million to the fight for medical supplies.
“Like many other people, some of my closest friends are among the ranks of heroic doctors, nurses and other hospital staff currently risking their own personal health and that of their families as they try to get people through it and home safely,” Norton said. “All of us are feeling deep anxiety about the widely reported shortage of critical safety gear for these hospital teams and so many of us have been looking for a way to contribute.”
“We can’t wait on someone else to solve this problem,” he added.
The campaign, which comes less than a day after Vice President Mike Pence discussed a potential, ill-advised plan to allow those who have been exposed with COVD-19 “to return to work more quickly with—by wearing a mask for a certain period of time.” While the details of the plan are still vague, Pence stressed the new CDC guidelines will target a small subset of workers deemed critical.
The vice president, however, did not mention on Monday how the guideline would be effective without adequate medical supplies while the president has not taken executive steps to ensure hospitals nationwide have the supplies they need.
“As the need evolves, so will our response. We’ll help medical providers access what they deem as the priority, including needs such as testing kits, thermometers, ventilators, and medicines,” the GoFundMe campaign states. “We’ll continue to support at-risk communities through food access or other basic necessities.”
The Frontline Responders Fund is the latest in a slew of GoFundMe campaigns formed over the last week to help combat the novel coronavirus outbreak, the platform reported. More than 22,000 fundraising campaigns have been launched in the last week after people seeking monetary help as a result of the virus—an effort that has raised more than $40 million in total, according to a letter sent to GoFundMe users last week.
GoFundMe has also created a centralized hub of coronavirus-related fundraisers to ensure both organizations and individuals have easy access to resources during the pandemic.
“One of the most important things we can do right now is to protect our frontline responders. We need to protect them so they can protect us,” GoFundMe Chairman Rob Solomon said Tuesday. “We encourage everyone across the country to take action, join the fight, and donate to the Frontline Responders Fund.”