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5,000 respirator masks found in crypt of DC National Cathedral. They'd been in storage since 2006 bird flu scare — and now are being donated for coronavirus.


'Seek and ye shall find, apparently'

Image source: YouTube screenshot

A stonemason discovered what one might call a national treasure.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic that's depleting much-needed hospital beds and medical supplies around the country, the skilled tradesman happened upon 5,000 masks — the N95 variety — in a crypt in the Washington National Cathedral, the iconic church noted on Twitter.

They are respirator masks, WUSA-TV reported. According to the Food and Drug Administration, an "N95 respirator is ... designed to achieve a very close facial fit and very efficient filtration of airborne particles. The 'N95' designation means [it] ... blocks at least 95 percent of very small (0.3 micron) test particles. If properly fitted, the filtration capabilities of N95 respirators exceed those of face masks. However, even a properly fitted N95 respirator does not completely eliminate the risk of illness or death."

What's happening to the masks?

On Wednesday the cathedral said it donated the stash of masks to MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and Children's National Hospital. The cathedral will keep a small number of them for pastoral care needs, WUSA said.

"Seek and ye shall find, apparently," the cathedral's Twitter account read. "Today @WNCathedral sent 3,000 N95 masks to @MedStarGUH and 2000 to @ChildrensNatl after a stonemason found a forgotten stash in the Cathedral crypt. Certified by manufacturer as still good."

How did observers react?

After a Twitter commenter asked why the masks were there in the first place, the cathedral replied, "We acquired them after the 2006 bird flu scare, and got them to protect our staff and thousands of visitors if we ever needed them in a future pandemic. That future is now."

Seems like a good news type of tale, right? Indeed, a number of folks commented positively underneath the cathedral's tweet. "Awesome work!" one commenter said.

But after another user tweeted, "Good news is needed and this is great news!! God surely works in mysterious ways," someone followed up the praise with "god didn't buy them."

With that, a different commenter stepped up to the plate and blasted the naysayer: "I don't usually bother atheists with my beliefs but really this time just shut the motherf*** up."

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