State welcomes latest PPE donation, discusses successes, needs

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ)Ford Motor Co. donated two million masks Monday to the state in one of the state’s latest and largest corporate donations of personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 outbreak.

First Lady Britainy Beshear joined Gov. Andy Beshear along with Lt. Gov. Jacqueline Coleman; Dr. Steven Stack, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health (KDPH) and Kentucky Division of Emergency Management Director Michael E. Dossett at the KDPH warehouse in Frankfort where the PPE is housed before it is distributed statewide.

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“Even before this global health crisis arrived in Kentucky more than six months ago, we were working to secure the personal protective equipment needed to keep our people safe,” the governor said. “The many great companies that do business in the commonwealth have been key partners in these efforts.”

“We know that wearing a mask is one of the most important things we can do to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Coleman said. “Your donation of two million masks makes sure that groups like front-line health care workers, first responders, teachers and students have what is necessary to stay healthy.”

Monday’s donation comes as part of an ambitious program launched by Ford, dubbed Project Apollo, that brings together the automakers’ top engineers and members of the United Auto Workers in an effort to produce 100 million masks through 2021.

Beshear said the donation puts the state on the verge of having a 120-day supply of PPEs if it is needed. That is on top of the two-weeks supplies health care facilities have on hand.

The state has managed to rebuild the inventory despite emptying the warehouse twice in the last six months meeting the needs of health care, first responders, and others needing PPE. The state has spent about $60 million on PPEs.

Ford, based in Dearborn, Michigan, is a longstanding employer and partner in the commonwealth and operates the Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville.

Ford’s donation is just the latest large gift from responsible corporations.

Back in March, Toyota provided 1,827 N95 masks, while Gray Construction and AE Electrical Solutions delivered 50 and 40 masks, respectively.

And just last month, Lexington-based Galls donated 37,500 isolation gowns, with Midland, Michigan-based Dow Chemical Co. adding another 2,000 of these crucially needed, costly and coveted PPE items.

Others that have contributed to Kentucky’s PPE stockpile include Louisville-based Clayton & Crume, Evergreen Point and Flavorcraft Industries Inc.; Bowling Green-based Fruit of the Loom; Hebron-based C.W. Zumbiel Co.; Lexington-based Grogan Healthcare Supplies Inc. and Public Safety Store; Corbin-based Southeastern Kentucky Rehabilitation Industries.

In addition, North Carolina-based Lowes; Gordon Food Service of Chicago, TPG Plastics of Willowbrook, Illinois, and Jacob and Thompson Worldwide Foam of Elkhart, Indiana, also have contributed to the commonwealth’s PPE stocks.

National companies including home goods chain Lowes, global distribution company Solutions 2 Go, battery giant Duracell, and furniture chain Ashley HomeStore also have donated PPE to Kentucky.

Dozens of individuals and smaller businesses have added to the commonwealths reserves by bringing donations to their local Kentucky State Police posts.

Kentucky’s inventory of crucial PPE, as of Sept. 9:

  • Gloves: 7,425,257
  • Face shields: 1,261,766
  • Surgical masks: 11,279,861
  • N95 masks: 930,110
  • Gowns: 1,305,556

The Department for Public Health also projects the amount of PPE that might be needed if cases surge in the state. The state currently is showing a healthy supply of face shields, surgical masks and N95 masks. If there is a sharp increase in cases, Kentucky will need more gloves and gowns.

“COVID-19 has challenged us in many ways and one of those has been the struggle to make sure we have the necessary tools to keep our health care workers and first responders supplied with critical PPE,” said Dr. Stack. “The generosity of private citizens and corporations has been pivotal to overcoming these supply challenges, and today’s donation by Ford of 2 million face masks to support Team Kentucky is yet another example of kindness and the power of coming together to help each other.”

The inventory is one of Kentuckys successes in the fight against COVID after struggling, as did many other states and nations, to secure enough PPE for frontline workers early in the pandemic.

“As we moved through the early months and weeks of the COVID response, the acquisition of PPE became an all out effort from sources within the state, across the nation and externally,” said Emergency Management Director Dossett. “Our distribution efforts to health care facilities and first responders, then turned to an operation to build the commonwealths surge capacity in the event of a second phase of the virus. At the end of September, we will have completed our stockpile of that inventory from our vendors.Were also very grateful to our many corporate partners that have provided donations in that effort.”

Since May, the Department for Local Government has provided more than $106.4 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding to local governments to reimburse expenses related to COVID-19, some of which was used to purchase and distribute masks, gloves and other PPE in local communities across the commonwealth.

In addition, the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet has awarded more than $2.4 million to public safety agencies in response to COVID-19 in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Coronavirus Emergency Supplemental Funding Program (CESF).

These funds will reimburse expenses in regards to overtime related to fighting COVID-19, purchasing equipment, supplies, training, travel and more.

Of the $2.4 million from the CESF awarded funds, $514,264 is earmarked exclusively for the purchase of PPE.

To prevent the spread of COVID-19 Gov. Beshear urges Kentuckians to fulfill their patriotic duty and protect each other by wearing a mask, washing hands frequently, limiting travel, keeping gathering to 10 of fewer and social distancing.