$ 7 million PPE left outside, damaged by storms in Bay Area

San Mateo County officials are investigating how millions of dollars worth of personal protective equipment were left outside, apparently forgotten, for several months before being damaged by storms last year.

According to a statement Friday by Mike Callagy, the county chief, officials bought supplies in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic “as no one knew how long the global supply shortage would last and jurisdictions across the country competed to purchase security equipment. “Protecting First Aiders and Communities.”

As supply chain problems subsided and hospital equipment became easier to find, demand for county equipment declined, Callagy said.

State officials worked with the California Governor’s Office for emergency services for months to provide PPE and other materials to health care providers, schools, other agencies and other states for free, he said.

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

Excess PPE and cleaning supplies were moved outside the San Mateo County Event Center in mid-September to make room for an event, he said.

The supplies were damaged by subsequent storms, Callagy said, adding that the items should have been moved back in when the event was over.

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

Most of the supplies included non-medical grade isolation gowns, face shields, goggles, some sterile gowns and various cleaning products such as bleach, mop buckets and handles, Callagy said. Their estimated value is $ 7 million.

“While the storms damaged some exterior packaging, most of the supplies are individually wrapped,” he said. “The county is actively inspecting and cleaning the materials with plans to donate undamaged goods to a non-profit organization.”

Pieces of high-quality PPE such as gloves and masks – including N95 and KN95 respirators – were stored indoors in county warehouses and not damaged, Callagy said.

“We want to reassure our community that this incident did not affect the county’s ability to provide safety equipment to first aiders and others responding to COVID-19,” he said.

The story was first reported by KGO-TV Channel 7 after a reporter received a tip about the equipment left outside in the rain.

After visiting the event center, the reporter found that thousands of boxes of equipment had been soaked, according to the station. Some had broken up and spilled their contents.

Callagy, who spoke to the station, said he did not know about the situation until he was contacted by the journalist.

Give a Comment