Madonna and activists send 100,000 surgical masks to jails and prisons

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LONDON, ENGLAND – JUNE 01: Singer Madonna speaks on stage at the “Chime For Change: The Sound Of Change Live” Concert at Twickenham Stadium on June 1, 2013 in London, England. Chime For Change is a global campaign for girls’ and women’s empowerment founded by Gucci with a founding committee comprised of Gucci Creative Director Frida Giannini, Salma Hayek Pinault and Beyonce Knowles-Carter. (Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images for Gucci)

Madonna is partnering with Meek Mill’s advocacy group REFORM Alliance to send much-needed personal protective equipment to jails and prisons which have become coronavirus hotspots across the country.

More than 50,000 surgical masks will be donated to Chicago’s Cook County Jail, which has been hit hard by the pandemic. Six inmates have died, while 210 staffers and 235 inmates have tested positive, according to the county sheriff’s department. Another 192 detainees and 120 staffers have recovered from the virus. 

The Louisiana Department of Corrections will also receive 20,000 masks, while another 30,000 will be sent to California’s Vacaville Prison, FCI Ray Brook in New York and the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department in Massachusetts.

REFORM and Madonna’s Ray of Light Foundation worked with several activist groups for the initiative, including apparel company Pair of Thieves, The Bail Project and #cut50.

“More than 2 million lives in prisons across America are currently at stake due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” REFORM co-chair Michael Rubin said in a statement. “It’s absolutely crucial that we protect our inmates and prison staff, especially since social distancing guidelines are difficult to abide by in these facilities.”

Earlier this month, REFORM sent 100,000 face masks to facilities including the Mississippi State Penitentiary in Parchman and Rikers Island jail complex in New York City.

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