State task force addresses PPE supply, logistical challenges

  • Teri Murphy, left, Sheryl Kline, of the Oklahoma Medical Reserve Corps., gathers boxes of personal protection equipment (PPE) and medical supplies to send out to facilities in the state at a warehouse where the State of Oklahoma has amassed a stockpile for its COVID-19 response in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Tuesday, April 7, 2020.  Photo by Chris Landsberger - The Oklahoman
    Teri Murphy, left, Sheryl Kline, of the Oklahoma Medical Reserve Corps., gathers boxes of personal protection equipment (PPE) and medical supplies to send out to facilities in the state at a warehouse where the State of Oklahoma has amassed a stockpile for its COVID-19 response in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Tuesday, April 7, 2020. Photo by Chris Landsberger - The Oklahoman
  • Personal protection equipment (PPE) czar Gino DeMarco speaks during a press conference in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 where the State of Oklahoma has amassed it stockpile of personal protection equipment and medical supplies for the State's COVID-19 response.  Photo by Chris Landsberger - The Oklahoman
    Personal protection equipment (PPE) czar Gino DeMarco speaks during a press conference in Oklahoma City, Okla. on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 where the State of Oklahoma has amassed it stockpile of personal protection equipment and medical supplies for the State's COVID-19 response. Photo by Chris Landsberger - The Oklahoman
Body

More personal protective equipment has arrived in Oklahoma as COVID-19 cases increase across the state.

A group of Oklahoma officials held a press April 7 at the state’s Strategic National Stockpile. The location, which is confidential, is where the state is holding its supply of personal protection equipment and medical supplies.

Among those speaking at the press conference were

Governor Kevin Stitt, the state’s personal protection equipment (PPE) czar Gino DeMarco, Oklahoma Employment Security Commission Executive Director Robin Roberson and Integris Medical Group’s infectious disease specialist David Chansolme MD.

During Tuesday’s press conference DeMarco said the state’s strategic stockpile held millions of dollars’ worth of PPE.

He said the stockpile includes: 4 million pairs of gloves, 120,000 gowns, 173,000 face shields and goggles,900,000 surgical and medical masks and 110,000 respirators along with a variety of other PPE.

DeMarco explained that local health care providers including hospitals and first responders can order PPE through the state’s Emergency Management System.

Marshall County Emergency Manager Robert Chaney said PPE in county were running low until last week.

“We were down to three days,” he said. “I’ve been ordering them for three weeks. What we got came from the strategic stockpile.”

Chaney added that local paramedics have had to wear the same masks and PPE each day. He said this is because even the amount of PPE they received last week was limited.

When asked about this specific instance, DeMarco pointed back to the state’s emergency management system.

“That’s the same supply system we were talking about earlier,” DeMarco said. “You can talk to your emergency management, emergency manger. We’re monitoring everywhere so we make deliveries every single day. And sometimes when things get tight, we would stretch things outso if you’re at three days we can continually deliver  you one or two or three days at a time to make sure you don’t go short. Uh were stretching what we have across the state. And as deliveries come in we’re shipping more and more stuff out.”

DeMarco previously served as deputy director of the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department under Gov. Stitt.

 

No shelter in place

As of April 7, the number of positive cases sat at 1,472. This has more than doubled from 719 positives on April 1. This includes positive cases in 64 of Oklahoma’s 77 counties including Marshall County.

Additionally, 67 people have died in Oklahoma from COVID-19.

The death toll increased 16 from April 6.

xHowever, Stitt and other state leaders anticipated a rise in positives, at least in part, to the availability of more tests. At a similar press conference on April 1, Stitt announced the state’s number of test hits had increased to 13,600.

Despite the increase in cases, Stitt is so far not inclined to issue a shelter in place order.

During press conferences on April 1, April 2 and April 7, the governor indicated he felt people staying home was more a matter of personal responsibility than the government shutting down business.

This positive came in spite of his own amended executive order on April 1 which extended the closure of all non-essential businesses in all of the state’s counties. Previously, this order was only for those counties that had a positive case of COVID-19.

Specifically, Stitt told The Madill Record, “Again, it’s about personal responsibility. I am a realist in the fact that you make all the shelter in home.

“I’m approaching it more as here’s the guidelines. Businesses have to continue to innovate to all 77  counties. The next three weeks are gonna be critical in Oklahoma. My job as governor is to set the guidelines.”