Fulton County government handed out face masks to business owners Thursday after receiving 8,000 masks from a city in Taiwan, which many experts say has handled the coronavirus outbreak better than America.

The masks came from the Taoyuan City government, which is located in northwestern Taiwan off China’s coast. Metro Atlanta has had a formal link to the island nation since 1979, when Taipei became a sister city of Atlanta under Mayor Maynard Jackson.

As if that wasn’t enough of a connection, “Taoyuan” translates to “peach garden.”

Taiwan has been an international model for containing COVID-19. The country of 23 million people has had seven COVID-19 deaths, compared to 407 in Fulton where the population is 1 million.

Some of the 8,000 masks and 300 face goggles are stacked up and ready to hand out at the Sandtown Pub August 6, 2020.  STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: Steve Schaefer

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Credit: Steve Schaefer

Fulton Commission Chairman Robb Pitts said that the Taiwanese officials offered the PPE and he quickly accepted.

Victory Tutson was the first person to drive up and receive a box of 50 masks outside the Sandtown Pub in South Fulton.

Tutson, 52, and his wife own the Forest Park catering business Cooking with Melodies. Tutson said he was in the Sandtown plaza to get some lunch when he stumbled upon the giveaway. He said the personal protective equipment is sorely needed.

Though they’ve shifted to more takeout, Tutson said business has been down 70% since mid-March. He had to reduce from 12 to three employees. But the virus has also been personal.

Tutson said his sister and two brothers have died from COVID-19 over the past four months.

“It’s been a rough ride,” he said.

Fulton County Commissioner Robb Pitts gives an Elbow bump to a passenger in a car while distributing PPE to businesses in Atlanta, August 6, 2020.  STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Credit: Steve Schaefer

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Credit: Steve Schaefer

Tutson said the most aggravating part is that no one knows what works or what’s the right thing to do, but he’ll give the masks to his staff and hope for the best.

“Through the grace of God we’ll get through everything,” he said.

Pitts, South Fulton Mayor Bill Edwards and Councilwoman Catherine Rowell walked around the plaza, giving PPE to barber shops and nail salons.

They also stopped into the Subway that Kisha Cameron owns.

Cameron said she never closed the store, even when she reduced the hours and ran the sandwich shop herself for a month and a half.

She said she was just about to order more masks before the city and county officials showed up.

“We were running low,” she said.

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