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Bethenny Frankel is trying to get supplies to medical workers confronting the coronavirus pandemic, but she said the hunt for equipment has been rife with scam artists and fake goods.
The former Real Housewives of New York star has provided disaster relief through her initiative BStrong for hurricanes and earthquakes since 2017, but Frankel said responding to the coronavirus has been unlike anything she’s ever done before.
“It’s been an insane jungle to sort of machete through to try to find the right equipment,” she said in an interview with BuzzFeed News’ Twitter show AM to DM.
Medical centers around the world have faced shortages of important equipment like face masks and gowns as increasing numbers of people become sick with COVID-19.
Lack of protective equipment for medical professionals, who are becoming sick themselves as they try to treat patients, has led to protests, and some have refused to work without supplies.
As supplies have dwindled and governments have struggled to provide the adequate supplies, scammers, profiteers, and relief organizations have stepped in, and Frankel said it’s become a challenge to find real equipment.
“It’s been pretty intense because probably for every nine leads one is real,” she said. “One isn’t somebody who isn’t a scam artist.”
To deal with the onslaught of fake goods, Frankel said BStrong is working with inspectors who have to check every single box of goods to make sure the supplies are what they’re looking for.
“Sometimes one box will be exactly what it said, but then every other box isn’t what they say, and we’re talking about millions of units,” she said. “It’s a tedious, gnarly process.”
Despite the challenges, Frankel said BStrong had managed to provide nearly $18 million worth of supplies to front-line workers at medical centers, clinics, and police and fire departments.
“You see the best in people and you see the worst in people,” said Frankel.
“It’s a time to really realize what’s important,” she said.