Gov. Stitt: PPE strategic stockpile should prevent shortages for healthcare workers, first responders

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma Governor held a press conference Tuesday in the state’s ‘national strategic stockpile’ warehouse to announce a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) should not be an issue for the time being.

“I wanted you to see all the work that we’ve done to makes sure that we have an adequate supply across the state,” Governor Kevin Stitt said.

He was joined by Gino DeMarco, the PPE Czar in the governor’s Solution Task Force, who said there’s more on the way. At the moment, the totals include four million pairs of gloves, 120,000 gowns, 173,000 face shields and goggles, 900,000 surgical and medical masks, and 110,000 respirators.

Any facilities or agencies who need access to the equipment were instructed to go through county emergency managers who will then communicate the need with the state, just as they would in a tornado crisis situation.

A portion of the equipment includes shipments from the Federal Strategic Stockpile. At least one of those shipments was entirely expired equipment, but the CDC ruled it safe to use under these circumstances.

“It’s segregated in the warehouse,” DeMarco said of the expired equipment, “but we have purchased millions of dollars worth of equipment from all over the world.”

The shortage of PPE has been at issue nationwide since the beginning of the pandemic. News 4 has heard from dozens of healthcare workers who said the facilities or hospitals they work for weren’t providing the equipment because there wasn’t enough.

Governor Stitt now said that should not be a problem any longer.

“If a nurse, or a doctor, or a first responder is being asked to use or reuse PPE that’s outside of the CDC guidelines, we need to know about it so we can contact that hospital and find out what’s going on,” Stitt said.

During the press conference, Stitt said he would have his office create an email for healthcare workers or first responders to report a facility’s failure to provide PPE, but for now he said to contact his office through normal channels.

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