As COVID-19 spreads throughout the country and infects more people, the need for vital supplies such as gloves and masks has spiked. Many hospitals and private health care practices are at risk of running out, but, tattoo artists are doing their part to help out during tough times. Many shops have kept ample supplies on hand and since most aren't open for business, tattooers around the country are donating their gloves to help out medical professionals.
"Lives are at stake and you cannot put a price on lives," says Myke Chambers, owner of Seven Swords Tattoo Company in Philadelphia. "I had a pretty good stock pile of gloves, CaviCide and some face masks at my Philly location. I knew they were in desperate need, so I donated everything. I have no money coming in but I still have to pay all my bills. At the end of the day, none of that matters when human lives are at stake."
In some cases, nurses and health care professionals have reached out to tattoo shops for help, and after watching Italy's response to COVID-19, Michelle Myles, co-owner of Daredevil Tattoo in NYC was compelled to step up. "One of our artists is from Milan and I've been watching what those poor health care workers have been going through in Italy," Myles says. "An ER nurse reached out to us through Instagram and said they were out of masks and were running out of gloves. I told her that we had gloves and a few masks, but not many. She said they're actually reusing N95 masks by covering them with dust masks. It's horrifying to me that people who are fighting this for us are working in these conditions."
Other tattoo shops have been contacted by the government for supplies, such as Pony Lawson, founder of Mayday Tattoo Supply and a frequent guest artist of Inked NYC. "The [Illinois] Governor's office called me and asked if I could donate what I had in stock," Lawson explains. "My company isn't as big as other companies, so I only had a couple cases of gloves. A lot of the other tattoo shops in Chicago are getting together and donating boxes to the National Guard for pickup."
While not every artist out there may have cases of gloves to provide, it's important to remember that anything can help in times like these. "When a situation like this arises, it’s apparent the world is cohesively struggling together," shares Travis Ross, owner of The Lost Cove Co. who donated his back stock of gloves to a San Diego hospital. "The more we all practice abundance, the more it will become a standard way of living. Any amount helps! Even if it's just one box or a mask."
If you're a health care professional in need, don't be afraid to reach out to your local tattoo shop. Even though we may look "scary" to some, you'll be impressed by the generosity that comes from this community.