Gov. Tom Wolf announced that Pennsylvania is prepared with a stockpile of personal protective equipment (PPE) now and should it be needed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in the coming months.
PPE includes protective clothing, helmets, gloves, face shields, goggles, facemasks and respirators or other equipment designed to protect the wearer from injury or the spread of infection or illness. It is not the same as cloth or paper masks that people are required to wear when they leave their homes to protect them and those they interact with.
“I want all Pennsylvanians to know that the commonwealth is prepared now for battling the ongoing pandemic that is COVID-19 and that preparedness extends to a possible resurgence this fall,” Wolf said. “There are still many unknowns with this virus, and we can’t control those, but we can control what we know and we know that by being ready with enough PPE, we can protect our health care workers, first responders and other essential workers and not overwhelm our health care system.”
To date, the state has distributed close to 5.4 million N95 masks, more than 736,000 gowns, more than 2.75 million procedure masks, close to 7.7 million gloves, close to 1.3 million face shields and a little less than 1 million bottles of hand sanitizer.
Last week the governor visited Americhem International, a Middletown-based wholesale distributor of janitorial and sanitizing products that serves a variety of industries, to thank businesses that worked to supply PPE during the pandemic and outlined the myriad efforts undertaken to ensure the commonwealth is and will be prepared for all PPE needs.
PPE is necessary to protect health care workers, first responders, those working in long-term living and correctional facilities, and those they care for. It is vital for facilities to have preparedness plans and for the state to assist when needed.
“The state, through procurement, sourcing and buying of PPE, is prepared for fall,” Wolf said. “We have significantly more PPE on hand to assist those who need it than we had prior to COVID-19. We continue to push PPE to those who need and request it and will work to ensure we keep our stockpile filled.
“In the early days of the pandemic, this administration took numerous steps to secure sources of PPE to ensure that Pennsylvanians were protected and that our health system was not overwhelmed. Our proactive and ongoing efforts to secure PPE, coupled with the flexibility and ingenuity displayed by Pennsylvania’s business community, helped us secure and allocate PPE. Because of the steps we took, our hospitals were not overburdened, and our medical system was not strained. Now, six months after the virus first appeared in the commonwealth, we can say with confidence that we are prepared to stay safe as we continue to fight this pandemic.”