This news was announced on Twitter by Apple CEO Tim Cook. The total amount of donated masks was initially going to be much lower -- around two million in total, according to information from US Vice President Mike Pence. However, it seems Apple decided to up that figure after realizing just how high the demand for such supplies is. Notably, the company will also be donating a few million more masks to the hardest-hit regions of Europe.
There could be any number of reasons for Apple's donation, but no matter what, this gift will certainly be appreciated by medical professionals. As Apple itself says, these people are nothing short of "heroes" working on the "front lines" of a devastating battle -- every day, they risk their own health (and possibly that of their families) to treat those who have been struck with Covid-19 (and any number of other ailments).
Our teams at Apple have been working to help source supplies for healthcare providers fighting COVID-19. We’re donating millions of masks for health professionals in the US and Europe. To every one of the heroes on the front lines, we thank you.— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) March 21, 2020
Though not foolproof by any means, the medical masks (the once widely-available "N95" respirators) can provide some level of protection against Covid-19-laden discharge droplets ejected from the mouth or nose when worn properly. Perhaps more importantly, they can also help the sick avoid spreading their illness to others.
We don't know exactly how Apple is procuring these masks, but in this case, the end result is all that matters. Hopefully, these masks will make a small but meaningful difference in the lives of millions of healthcare pros, but only time will tell.