Washington National Cathedral is donating 5,000 respirator masks to hospitals to help with a shortage caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement came Wednesday after longtime mason Joe Alonso discovered boxes of N-95 masks in a storage area on the cathedral's grounds.
"In the midst of so many difficult things going on in our city and across our country, a little bit of grace at the cathedral this week, we discovered that we had in the crypt thousands of N95 masks that we've had here at the cathedral since the possible outbreak of avian bird flu years ago," said Rev. Randolph Hollerith, dean of Washington National Cathedral.
Of the 5,000 masks, 3,000 masks will be delivered to Georgetown University Hospital and the remaining 2,000 to Children's National Hospital.
The masks were purchased more than a decade ago during a bird flu outbreak, according to the Cathedral.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks.
For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
The vast majority of people recover.