$7 million of PPE left outside and damaged by storms at Bay Area county facility

Officials in San Mateo County are investigating how thousands and thousands of {dollars}’ price of non-public protecting tools was left outdoors, apparently forgotten, for months earlier than being broken by storms late final 12 months.

According to a statement Friday by Mike Callagy, the county supervisor, officers bought the provides within the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic “when no one knew how long global supply shortages would last and jurisdictions nationwide were competing to purchase safety equipment … to protect first responders and communities.”

As provide chain points subsided and hospital-grade tools grew to become simpler to seek out, demand for the county’s tools fell, Callagy mentioned.

County officers labored with the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services for months to supply the PPE and different materials to healthcare suppliers, colleges, different businesses and different states freed from cost, he mentioned.

“But few accepted the offer because sizes, quantities, other considerations made them less appropriate,” Callagy mentioned.

Surplus PPE and cleansing provides had been moved outdoors the San Mateo County Event Center in mid-September to make room for an occasion, he mentioned.

The provides had been broken by subsequent storms, Callagy mentioned, including that the gadgets ought to have been moved again inside as soon as the occasion was over.

“The county is solely responsible for our materials at the event center,” he mentioned. “We deeply regret that this occurred and are hiring an external investigator to identify all facts related to the damage and make recommendations to avoid future incidents.”

Most of the provides included non-medical-grade isolation robes, face shields, goggles, some sterile robes and miscellaneous cleansing provides similar to bleach, mop buckets and handles, Callagy mentioned. Their estimated worth is $7 million.

“While the storms damaged some outside packaging, most of the supplies are individually wrapped,” he mentioned. “The county is actively inspecting and cleaning the materials with plans to donate undamaged goods to a nonprofit.”

Pieces of high-grade PPE similar to gloves and masks — together with N95 and KN95 respirators — had been saved indoors at county warehouses and never broken, Callagy mentioned.

“We want to assure our community that this incident did not impact the county’s ability to provide safety equipment to first responders and others responding to COVID-19,” he mentioned.

The story was first reported by KGO-TV Channel 7 after a reporter obtained a tip concerning the tools left outdoors within the rain.

Upon visiting the occasion heart, the reporter discovered hundreds of packing containers of kit had been soaked, according to the station. Some had damaged open and spilled their contents.

Callagy, who spoke with the station, mentioned he didn’t know concerning the state of affairs till he was contacted by the reporter.

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