Jussie Smollett donating $5,000 for face masks in Cook County

“Look, my love for Chicago has never wavered,” the former “Empire” actor said. “This isn’t about politics. This is about people’s lives being taken in a matter of days and I am simply doing what I can to help,”

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Flanked by attorneys and supporters, former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett walks out of the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on Feb. 24, 2020 after pleading not guilty to falsely reporting he was the victim of a hate-crime attack near his Streeterville apartment in January 2019.

Flanked by attorneys and supporters, former “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett walks out of the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on Feb. 24, 2020 after pleading not guilty to falsely reporting he was the victim of a hate-crime attack near his Streeterville apartment in January 2019.

Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

Sneed exclusive . . .

Jussie Smollett is back.

But not in Chicago.

Sneed has learned the former “Empire” actor is donating $5,000 to purchase 3,000 face masks for the Cook County Health Foundation — the hospital’s charitable arm — to battle Chicago’s COVID-19 pandemic.

Smollett is also in the process of enlisting friends to up the ante and is sending 1,000 PPE (personal protective equipment) masks to Harlem Hospital in New York.

“I lived in Chicago for five years and know many essential workers driving buses, working in child care, or working in grocery stores — are black,” stated Smollett via a written statement to Sneed.

“I’m also aware 70% of the city’s residents who died from COVID-19 in Chicago are black,” added Smollett, who returned to Chicago in late February to once again enter a plea of not guilty on disorderly conduct charges for allegedly staging a hate crime attack in January 2019.

Months ago, Smollett told Sneed he was in the process of purchasing a two-bedroom condo in the South Loop after “Empire” had wrapped up.

“Look, my love for Chicago has never wavered. I was planning once to live here,” he added.

“This isn’t about politics. This is about people’s lives being taken in a matter of days and I am simply doing what I can to help,” said the actor, whose career has been under the radar since the incident.

“This fight should be for everyone regardless of race, religion, gender, sexuality, economic status or political affiliation.”

Smollett’s Chicago attorney, William J. Quinlan, who serves on Cook County Hospital’s Foundation Board, tells Sneed: “Jussie asked me how he could help and I suggested Stroger (Cook County) Hospital, where there is no finer place to do good. And there is a stark need for PPE.”

• Backshot: Smollett was indicted on six counts of disorderly conduct alleging he lied to police about being the victim of an attack on a frigid Chicago night. Former U.S. Attorney Dan K. Webb was then appointed last summer to investigate the Smollett matter after the first charges were abruptly dropped by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s office, resulting in controversy and national scrutiny.

Sneedlings . . .

Kudos to recently retired Rush University Medical Center chief, Dr. Larry Goodman, a specialist in infectious diseases, on his brilliant leadership and foresight that led Rush’s charge into the forefront of planning for such a pandemic. Bravo and thank you! . . . Zing went the strings of many hearts when CSO violinist Baird Doge gave two courtyard concerts to listeners from his building’s fire escapes! . . . Condolences to the family of Tony Cavallo, one of Rush Street’s legendary Maitre d’s, who died recently. . . . Saturday’s birthdays: Alessandra Ambrosio, 39; Michelle Phan, 33; and Summer Walker, 24. . . . Sunday’s birthdays: Beverly Cleary, 104; Andy Garcia, 64; and David Letterman, 73.

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