Washington scrambles to boost supply of life-saving protective items for healthcare workers

State officials say they had to be “creative” to obtain protective equipment in global demand.

By Cameron Sheppard, WNPA News Service

Millions of N-95 masks and other types of personal protective equipment are being delivered to Washington State as public health and emergency response officials scramble to obtain the equipment needed to respond to the growing COVID-19 outbreak.

Jerrod Davis, assistant secretary for disease control and health statistics at the Department of Health, said there is significant global demand for these kinds of items and right now the state does not have enough to satisfy the needs of its communities.

Davis explained that the state’s joint operations team at Camp Murray in Pierce County, comprised of the Department of Enterprise Services, Department of Health and Emergency Management Division, is working collaboratively with many partners to procure the gear they need. He said health departments across the state report the quantity of equipment that they need and the joint operation team works to fulfill them.

Respirators, surgical masks, gowns, thermometers and sanitizing equipment have been delivered by the thousands. Linda Kent, public affairs official for the Department of Enterprise Services, said millions more have been requested as the DES and other state agencies are working “creatively” to fulfill a critical need.

Davis said requests have been made for gear from the national stockpile, Federal Emergency Management Agency, even public equipment donations are being accepted.

Kent said the team is “leaving no stone unturned” as they reach out to private retailers and distributors for these products, even working with manufacturers and urging them to “switch gears” and join in the effort to supply life-saving equipment.

Healthcare professionals are already having to take measures to conserve the increasingly valuable protective equipment.

Davis said the gear that is being obtained is being distributed to the most affected regions — including King County and nearby Western Washington counties where the virus is spreading quickly.

Kent said the need for personal protective equipment will be ongoing as the healthcare community prepares for the “long haul” of this outbreak. As the coronavirus pandemic develops, Kent said there will be “no way to predict what the need will be with great precision.”


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@valleyrecord.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.valleyrecord.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

Kabal Gill, owner of East India Grill in Federal Way, wears gloves to hand over take-out orders at his restaurant on March 23. File photo
New guidelines for Phase 2 reopenings in King County

All workers will need to wear masks as restaurants, retail shops and other businesses reopen.

This undated file photo provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows CDC’s laboratory test kit for the new coronavirus. Courtesy photo
Inslee wants nursing home residents and staff tested by June 12

Governor says state will pay for test kits and personal protective equipment.

Stock image
Campgrounds to reopen in 22 Washington counties

Campgrounds in counties actively in Phase 2 of the reopening plan will begin to welcome visitors June 1, state says.

King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht. FILE PHOTO
King County sheriff releases message about Minneapolis Police officer

Mitzi Johanknecht calls video of officer kneeling on neck of George Floyd ‘heartbreaking and disturbing’

File photo of construction near North Bend on Aug. 16. Sound Publishing file photo
                                File photo of construction near North Bend on Aug. 16. Sound Publishing file photo
Rural King County mayors want state to let them enter Phase 2

Mayors cite heavy economic damage from prolonged shutdown.

New dashboard shows how far along King County is to meeting Phase II metrics

The county has met more than half its goals, but the ones it hasn’t met are critical in determining how many people are still being infected, and how quickly people are being tested.

As sales tax plummets in King County, mental health and drug program funding dries up

County will need to make severe cuts to MIDD program this year.

Pictured: Snoqualmie Mayor Matt Larson, left, and North Bend Mayor Rob McFarland. Courtesy photo
State of the Valley address highlights COVID economic impact

Mayors of North Bend and Snoqualmie tout city accomplishments from 2019.

Auburn Mountain View Cemetery Manager Craig Hudson, center, confers with maintenance workers David Partridge, left, and Zach Hopper in March 2020. Sound Publishing file photo
State allows weddings, funerals, religious services to restart with restrictions

Gov. Inslee issues new rules during May 27 news conference.

Most Read