Hottest COVID-19 protective equipment is not what you think

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CUYAHOGA COUNTY (WJW) — The FOX 8 I-TEAM can now show you a part of the fight against COVID-19 never seen before, and you may be surprised at one of the biggest challenges for gathering equipment to protect health care workers.

Thursday, the I-TEAM got the first look inside a warehouse with a huge stash of valuable supplies to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Here, the Cuyahoga County Emergency Management Agency gives out masks, and face shields, and hand sanitizer, and more, all considered personal protective equipment, and it goes to workers at hospitals and nursing homes as well as rescue crews and county employees.

We found a steady line of vehicles passing through to get loaded up with supplies for local fire departments.

We asked the Cuyahoga County Director of Public Safety Alex Pellom to spell out how prepared the county is with supplies.

“I believe we’re in a really good place,” Pellom said.

Pellom said the county has spent millions ordering equipment. But that comes with a worldwide demand for masks and more. So, the county has also taken in shipments from the federal government and even donations from the public. All of that adds up to efforts to keep county workers covered and to cover shortages for everyone else.

“To this scale, we were able to ramp it up,” Pellom said. “When these agencies come to get what they need, we’re able to fulfill those requests based on what they need.”

The county said it has given out about a million pieces of protective gear.

While there’s been a lot of national attention on the difficulty getting certain kinds of masks, it turns out, gowns have been especially hard to get.

“The gowns, they block fluids,” Pellom added. “It has been a challenge because a lot of these companies making gowns in the beginning have stopped. Switched to mask-making.”

For continuing coverage about the coronavirus pandemic, including the latest on Ohio, head here.

We met Chagrin Falls Fire Marshal Jim Finley picking up protective equipment. He told us, he’d been there before.

“It’s pretty comforting knowing this is here every day,” Finley said, “It’s really helped out the departments around here. In the suburbs, we’re having a lot of coronavirus patients.”

The county says keeping the supply warehouse stocked has been tricky, in part, because the prices for many of the pieces of equipment are much more expensive if you need a shipment right away.

Seems as if the line of new patients never ends. So the line never ends for more protective gear to stop the outbreak.

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