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Pima County distributes PPE around area, now schools

Published: Aug. 4, 2020 at 7:03 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Personal protection equipment like gloves and masks has been essential in helping slow the spread of COVID-19. It’s also been difficult for many—including government agencies to get a hold of. Now that supply chains are flowing again, Pima County is distributing PPE across the county for organizations, businesses, health care providers of all kinds and now schools.

Set up specifically to handle distribution of PPE during the pandemic, a warehouse in Pima County is stocked with supplies—for now.

“Everything we get in, we immediately push out,” said Krista Romero-Cardenas, Logistics Deputy Chief for Pima County Health Department’s emergency management team.

The National Guard and PCHD workers distribute PPE to those organizations that need it and are eligible for help from the county. Tuesday, charter and private schools picked up their allotted supplies—based on staffing levels. Districts received their allotment Friday. The Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind recently got their PPE.

“Things are very tight,” said Maria Murphy, Director of Policy and Government Relations for ASDB. “There are budget cuts at the state level, so anything that Pima County or other organizations can do to help is a huge, huge assistance to us.”

ASDB got a little more than $3,000 worth of PPE. Schools are getting supplies like masks, hand sanitizer, gloves and signage to hand in hallways. In all, the county is using about $167,000 dollars of CARES ACT funding to supply schools with PPE—an initiative that’s grown out of demand.

“It’s been a journey of adapting,” said Romero-Cardenas.

TUSD, that received about $61,000 worth of PPE from the county, said school staff will have access to appropriate PPE as needed and the TUSD Operation Department is supervising the distribution of the product with the assistance of the health care staff.

Now that supply chains are flowing again, Pima County is distributing PPE across the county for...
Now that supply chains are flowing again, Pima County is distributing PPE across the county for organizations, businesses, health care providers of all kinds and now schools.(KOLD)

“Hand sanitizer will be used as a quick intervention to provide optimal hygiene when a sink with soap and water isn’t readily available, and this will also decrease the amount of time older students spend away from the learning room while increasing their hygiene efforts in order to slow the spread of communicable diseases,” said a TUSD spokesperson in a written statement,

One warehouse the county has been using is temporary. Pima County has used this smaller location pre-COVID to store emergency medical needs, but the operation of mass distribution is new.

“The county has never served as the procurement for the whole county, so this is something completely new,” said Romero-Cardenas.

Initially providing equipment to medical professionals and places like long-term care facilities, the PPE stored will now spread all across the county. Using data from the last few months, they are able to gauge how much supplies to order, push out and keep. The goal is to have a three-month supply at the ready. If there are extra supplies that might be needed elsewhere, the county will ship it to neighboring counties with needs.

“COVID-19 is still very present in the community, and we need to be ready to help keep us as safe as possible,” said Romero-Cardenas.

The PPE comes from different vendors such as the federal and state governments, Pima County’s own purchases or even donations. Xerocraft, a local “hackerspace” as been donating face shields. But, the county said donations of PPE from around the community have slowly trickled down to hardly any. Five months into a state and national emergency—the distribution, is still ramping up.

ASDB said they also got a large donation of clear face masks that instructors can use. The county said this distribution is only a small part of the machine that’s helping keep the community safe. To see a complete list of supplies heading to area schools, click [HERE].

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