A doctor who says she was pulled over for speeding in Minnesota was not given a ticket by the trooper. Instead, she says, the trooper gave her his supply of N95 face masks which are in short supply for health care workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
Dr. Sarosh Janjua, a cardiologist, wrote on Facebook Friday that she was on Interstate 35 between Duluth and Minneapolis when a trooper, who she identified as Brian J. Schwartz, pulled her over.
After identifying she was a doctor, Janjua said Schwartz pointed out to her that if she got into an accident, she would not only be taking up resources but would also be unable to help her patients.
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After the lecture, Janjua said Schwartz reached his hand into the car to, she assumed, hand back her driver’s license. That’s when she said Schwartz gave her five N95 masks from what she said was the supply the state had given Schwartz to protect himself.
“From everything you’ve heard today, N95 masks are worth their weight in gold,” Janjua told CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “And for him to just selflessly hand something like that over when he’d stopped me for a speeding violation, I can’t tell you what it did for someone who is very scared.”
Although efforts are being made to ramp up production of personal protective equipment for medical professionals, there is concern that there isn’t enough to go around. There have been multiple reports of hospitals across the country requiring staff to reuse face masks.
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In a statement to CNN, the Minnesota State Patrol said Schwartz saw what appeared to be two N95 masks in Janjua’s purse and assumed she was reusing them, so he felt compelled to give her more.
Janjua wrote on Facebook that the gesture led her to burst into tears.
“Like all healthcare workers and emergency responders around the world, I have felt afraid of not having adequate protective equipment, and in my darkest moments, have worried about what would happen if I fell sick far from home,” Janjua wrote. “This complete stranger, who owed me nothing and is more on the front lines than I am, shared his precious masks with me, without my even asking.”
Most people who contract COVID-19 have mild or moderate symptoms, which can include fever and cough. But for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, the virus can cause pneumonia and require hospitalization.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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