First responders protect the public all the time, so now is the perfect time for the public to do its part, Jing “Jack” Jiang said as he unpacked boxes of protective masks at Trumbull EMS headquarters Friday.

Jiang, a professor at Sacred Heart University and seven-year Trumbull resident, is one of many Chinese Americans that have been purchasing protective equipment through friends and family in China. The items are then shipped to the U.S. for distribution to various health and emergency workers. Jiang said he and a group of Trumbull residents of Chinese descent had made a bulk purchase of 3,400 masks and he had made the drive into New Jersey to pick them up.

“It was strange driving over the bridge,” he said. “There was no traffic.”

The group donated half the masks to Trumbull emergency workers. The other half is going to Bridgeport Hospital, he said. Similar donations are happening statewide, Jiang said.

“My friend is donating 1,000 N95 masks to Griffin Hospital in Derby today,” he said. Another group dropped off protective gear in Milford Wednesday, he said.

Jiang said he hoped the actions by these groups served as a reminder that everyone needs to do their part As some continue to refer to COVID-19 as “China virus” he said members of the local Chinese community were trying to keep a low profile. Even some donations generated hostility, with accusations of hoarding popping up on social media.

“A virus isn’t political,” he said. “It is attacking everybody. So while you (emergency responders) protect us, we need to protect you.”

At the current rate of use, the masks represent more than a month’s supply. Fire Marshal Megan Murphy, who also runs the Office of Emergency Management, said the town emergency and health workers were using about 1,500 masks a month. EMS alone has a need for about 1,000 masks a month, she said.