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'Arming the community': Grant distributing coronavirus protection on Buffalo's East Side

Thomas O'Neil-White

Coronavirus cases continue to climb in Buffalo and Erie County and one local leader has decided to take the fight to stop the spread directly to the streets.

Over the last month, former Erie County legislator Betty Jean Grant has driven around Buffalo's East Side, delivering pertinent information through a PA sound system to residents regarding COVID-19.

On a rainy Thursday afternoon at the corner of East Utica Street and Jefferson Avenue, Grant set up a free drive-up dispensary shop for masks, gloves and hand sanitizer.

“We know the virus does not stop because it rains or snows,” Grant said. “The virus does not stop because we don’t feel like getting out of our cars. And so we said that we can hold this free mask giveaway because the community needs it.”

Credit Thomas O'Neil-White

Grant said frustration over a lack of information being delivered to Buffalo’s Black community spurred her to take action. She said she believes the slow flow of information has caused a general feeling of apathy towards the virus. 

“What we’re doing is arming the community,” she said. “As you know, from yesterday’s report, Erie County is going up.”

Grant said the free PPE was available through the generosity community leaders and places like East Buffalo staple ABC Hardware.

Born in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas moved to Western New York at the age of 14. A graduate of Buffalo State College, he majored in Communications Studies and was part of the sports staff for WBNY. When not following his beloved University of Kentucky Wildcats and Boston Red Sox, Thomas enjoys coaching youth basketball, reading Tolkien novels and seeing live music.
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