On behalf of San Antonio’s sister city of Kaohsiung, Taiwan, 30,000 disposable face masks were donated to the City of San Antonio on Monday, the latest in a series of donations from sister cities in Asia to help fight COVID-19.

Representatives with the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Houston delivered the masks to Mayor Ron Nirenberg at the Plaza de Armas Gallery downtown. The masks, along with an earlier donation of 60,000 masks from sister city Wuxi, China, will be used by first responders, City officials said.

“I hope these masks will help strengthen the work you’re doing here against the spread of the coronavirus,” said Peter Chen, the office’s director general. “This is a time when we need to be reaching out to help one another when we can.”

In San Antonio and across the nation “people are increasingly seeing masks [being worn] as a sign of respect for one another,” Nirenberg said.

“When we say we are in this together, we don’t just mean residents here in San Antonio, we also mean our relationships with our sister cities, and there is no better way to represent the respect we have for one another than showing up” during the public health crisis, Nirenberg said.

The masks will be stored in the Alamodome alongside donations from other San Antonio sister cities, including 1,800 bottles of hand sanitizer from Gwangju, South Korea, received on May 18, and the masks from Wuxi that were sent on May 22. 

Sherry Dowlatshahi, who leads the City of San Antonio’s international relations office, said the City has been stockpiling donations received since January.

The International Relations office coordinated with the Alamo Asian American Chamber of Commerce to raise more than $50,000 to provide medical supplies to China’s Wuxi Children’s Hospital and helped Wuxi officials connect with manufacturers able to provide supplies when China was in the throes of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“While some of the trips to our sister cities have been canceled or postponed, the relationships are still active and we are doing what we can to support one another,” Dowlatshahi said.

The donations of personal protective equipment come as Bexar County has seen a spike in new coronavirus cases during June, with 381 reported over the weekend.

“We appreciate the partnerships with our Sister Cities and our friendship goes beyond just the roles we play in the office,” Nirenberg said. “We look forward to traveling again and being able to visit one another, but until then, we will still continue show our support in any way we can during this time.” 

Roseanna Garza

Roseanna Garza reports on health and bioscience for the San Antonio Report.