University of Wisconsin-River Falls entrance 07022016

This view shows the UW-River Falls entrance on Cascade Avenue near Main Street.

With a little help from UW-River Falls, Wisconsin recently received a donation of 10,000 procedural masks and 1,000 medical outfits from its sister state of Heilongjiang Province to help grow its supply of personal protective equipment.

After hearing about the need for PPE for Wisconsin’s COVID-19 response, Carolyn Brady, international partnership and outreach programs coordinator at UW-River Falls, reached out to the Foreign Affairs Office in the capital city of Harbin to see if Heilongjiang had any masks available. UW-River Falls has partnered with the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection on international efforts, including trips to China to promote Wisconsin’s dairy industry, and is currently piloting a Chinese language program for early learners in collaboration with the Heilongjiang Provincial Government and the River Falls school district.

That outreach culminated in the donation of the masks and outfits by Gov. Wang Xiankui of Heilongjiang, with multiple Wisconsin stakeholders helping to bring the shipment to the state.

“This donation shows teamwork at its finest,” Gov. Tony Evers said in a news release. “Our sister state of Heilongjiang, along with several state agencies and Wisconsin higher education and nonprofit institutions, all worked together to bring these supplies here and support our frontline COVID-19 responders in a time of need. I want to thank our friends in Heilongjiang for their support and generosity.”

Wisconsin has enjoyed a sister state relationship with Heilongjiang Province, located in northeast China, since 1982.

“Our UWRF outreach has not only directly benefited our institution, community and state, but has also produced an abundance of reciprocal goodwill between the people of Wisconsin and the residents of Heilongjiang Province,” Brady said in the release. “This generous gift in response to our need is just one evidence of their warm regard, for which we, and I trust all of the direct recipients, are most grateful.”

The shipment from Heilongjiang was the latest in a series of PPE donations Wisconsin has received to support its COVID-19 response. Organizations that include the Wisconsin Dental Association, WEC Energy Group, Kohler, Snap-On Tools, Northern States Power Co., ND Paper, the Wisconsin Humane Society and Foxconn have donated equipment such as masks, gloves, face shields and gowns.

“Competition for COVID-19 supplies is intense. That is why we are committed to pursuing every avenue — state, national and international — to obtain the resources necessary for our response,” Evers said. “Donations like these provide our responders with the equipment they need to help keep our communities safe and healthy.”

The state is encouraging companies, educational facilities and other organizations that may have PPE supplies and other needed resources that could be used in the state’s response to COVID-19 to visit its donor/buyback website at covid19supplies.wi.gov/Donations.