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Vancouver advocate raises $10,000 for Mother's Day mask handout
VANCOUVER -- A former park board commissioner and the Sant Sarwan Dass Charitable Trust partnered to hand out 7,000 masks and hot meals for Mother's Day in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.
Constance Barnes said she raised over $10,000 to buy masks for Downtown Eastside residents to help protect them from COVID-19.
"I think the masks are incredibly important," Barnes said.
"Regardless of the virus, a lot of the folks who are living here…a lot of them are homeless and they have colds, they have pneumonia. Every time I've been down here people are asking for them."
Before restrictions to limit the spread of COVID-19 started, Barnes worked at the Downtown Eastside Street Market on East Hastings Street. Since the market closed, people have been selling items on the street instead of at the market, Barnes said.
With many people in the Downtown Eastside suffering from pre-existing health conditions, advocates and residents feared that if COVID-19 were to spread in the area, the illness could be devastating.
As a prevention measure, this weekend the city and province cleared a tent city at Oppenheimer Park after housing most residents in empty hotels.
There has been no outbreak of COVID-19 in the Downtown Eastside, but there has been a rise in drug overdose deaths.
Dr. Patricia Daly, chief medical officer of Vancouver Coastal Health, said in April she feared that physical distancing measures and reduced visits to supervised consumption sites had contributed to the increase in overdose deaths.