Reports of an uneven rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, along with the grim reality of the sheer number of doses needed to end the pandemic, have brought the public health crisis full circle as the United States marks the first anniversary of coronavirus being discovered in the United States. Prevention remains the most impactful method to reducing cases and deaths from the coronavirus. Yet, shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) and critical supplies that support virus prevention efforts persist.
The United States’ lack of critical supplies continues, even as manufacturing scales up in an attempt to meet supply. Reports of frontline workers rationing or reusing disposable supplies are rampant, even as infections continue to spread. The United States will soon surpass 450,000 deaths and 26.5 million cases, with hospitalizations holding steady at approximately 100,000.
Despite a federal aid package and greater coordination between localities, states, and the federal government, PPE’s need is both desperate and immediate. Businesses with the capacity and relationships to help fill the PPE pipeline with quality products from outside the United States are stepping up to meet the challenge.
Shifting Priorities to Address the Pandemic
Before the pandemic, Bilal Nael built his business manufacturing consumer electronics throughout Asia and importing them to the United States. Once the virus was declared a global pandemic, Nael moved quickly, putting his vast network of contacts to work in China, the world’s leading exporter of PPE products. Within a few months, the business grew from a few hundred thousand in revenue to over $100 million a month.
Disinfectant wipes that are proven to kill coronavirus effectively are in high demand for businesses and individual consumers. Nael’s company, Practical Environmental Solutions – Northwest LLC, is a select number of companies that have created a product that meets the EPA’s standard to be included on List N, the official source for products certified to kill coronavirus when used according to label directions.
Nael located a large facility in China formerly used to produce solar panels, providing the space and pharmaceutical grade rooms needed to create a manufacturing campus where about 800 employees worked and lived to maximize production and safety. He licensed the royalty to produce the essential chemicals, and manufacturing began.
Beyond Business: Philanthropy in the Age of COVID-19
Despite skyrocketing orders, Nael believes businesses like his can do more to provide direct help to communities. His company donated nearly 40,000 packs of disinfectant wipes to Leaders Advancing and Helping Communities (LAHC). LAHC is a Dearborn, MI located human services non-profit that aids approximately 40,000 people annually through education and youth development, public health and nutrition programming, housing assistance, and drug prevention.
“The pandemic has hit vulnerable populations harder than anyone,” said Nael. “There’s never been a more important time to give back to the organizations and people that provide life-saving help day after day and year after year in our communities.”
Distribution of Nael’s donation will begin February 4, with drive-through events to provide the disinfectant wipes directly to community members and residents throughout the area.
“It takes a village,” said Wassim Mahfouz, executive director of LAHC. “During these times and the hardships that Covid has imposed on the nation, it is heartwarming to see people step up so that people can stay safe and virus free.”
Nael plans to seek out opportunities to meet the need for PPE by building this business and using it as a platform to impact communities through his philanthropic efforts.