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Joe and Clara Tsai helping hard-hit Detroit deal with coronavirus

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WNBA: Preseason-China National Team at New York Liberty Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

After providing emergency medical equipment to the New York and New Jersey area, then San Diego, Joe and Clara Tsai are now helping Detroit battle the coronavirus in conjunction with Pistons owner Tom Gores.

Gores announced the arrangement Thursday. Tsai will deliver 350,000 KN95 masks and 100,000 medical goggles to the city to help with the ongoing fight against the coronavirus. The masks and goggles, donated by the Joe and Clara Tsai Foundation, will be distributed to testing centers and homeless shelters, as well as frontline workers in the city’s transportation and police departments.

Here’s video of the press conference announcing the donation. Tsai appeared by video link from Hong Kong.

Although Brooklyn and Queens remain the epicenter of the pandemic, deaths from the coronavirus topped 1,000 in Detroit on Wednesday, a grim milestone for the nation’s most impoverished big city. The Motor City reported 27 new deaths Thursday, bringing its total to 1,035. With 149 deaths per 100,000 residents, Detroit now has more deaths per capita than New York City.

All told, the Tsai’s donations to American coronavirus efforts around the country exceeds $10 million and includes 2,000 ventilators, 3.4 million masks —both KN95 respirators and surgical masks— as well as 400,000 medical goggles.

The donations began on April 2 shipment to Newark Airport. It included 1,000 ventilators sent to the Mount Sinal hospital system; 300,000 surgical masks that went toward 11 New York City-area nursing homes and 70,000 medical goggles donated to 11 New York City-area nursing homes as well as Columbia Presbyterian Hospital.

Two days later, the Tsai’s sent another 1,000 ventilators, a million surgical masks, 1.3 million KN95 masks, 100,000 medical goggles were flown into JFK. That shipment was distributed by New York State. Of that total, 300,000 masks were distributed to New Jersey.

Then, last week, the Tsai’s delivered another 130,000 medical goggles and 370,000 pieces of personal protective equipment to San Diego, where they maintain a residence ... and where Tsai owns the San Diego Seals of the National Lacrosse League.

“Many cities in America have been hit hard by the pandemic. Clara and I wish to help the people of Detroit get through these difficult times, and we are grateful that Tom and his organization readily stepped up to help us distribute the supplies,” said Tsai. “We have a history of friendship with Detroit and I want to thank Mayor Duggan for directing the PPE to where they are needed most.”

In June 2017, Alibaba Group, which Tsai co-founded, held its inaugural “Gateway ‘17” conference in Detroit to facilitate exports by American small businesses and farmers to China on Alibaba’s e-commerce platforms. “We hope to partner with Mayor Duggan again to assist American businesses as they get back on the path to economic recovery,” said Tsai.

Moreover, Rich Tao, who is a vice-president of Tsai’s investment vehicle, Blue Pool Capital, is a former assistant to Mayor Duggan, having grown up in Detroit. Tao played a crucial role in Tsai’s purchases of the Nets, Barclays Center and New York Liberty.

Gores, citing the partnership among Mayor Duggan, the Pistons and Tsai, called for continued collaboration between public officials, corporate partners and community organizations to prepare for the long-term impacts of the health crisis.

“The city is making progress in the fight against COVID-19, but there is still a long way to go and the long-term needs in the community will be substantial,” he added. “It’s inspiring to see people coming together right now and I’m confident we will sustain that spirit in the weeks and months ahead.”

In addition to his help with critical medical equipment, Tsai is picking up the salaries and health care costs of the team and arena’s hourly workers through at least the end of May. The team also coordinated the donation of five tons of food from Barclays to the city’s Food Bank early in the crisis and arranged for a mobile food pantry at the arena just last weekend.

“It was the least we could do,” Wu Tsai told Rosalyn Gold-Onwude, the Liberty broadcaster last week. “The front line workers really are the heroes of this and their health and safety are really the most important.”

Meanwhile, Kristian Winfield reports that Wu Tsai has been named to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s New York Forward Re-opening Advisory Board. The Nets didn’t have a representative on the board (nor for that matter did the Liberty) when Cuomo named the board earlier in the week.

Neither the team nor Barclays Center were intentionally excluded from the advisory board, sources told The Daily News. The governor’s office is still adding names and businesses to its list.