personal protective equipment

The manufacturing industry has suffered during the economic shutdown caused by the pandemic. A new report from the Institute for Supply Management expects the industry won’t return to pre-recession levels until 2022.

The national stockpile of personal protective equipment (PPE) supplied Ohio with more than 493,000 gloves, 271,000 N95 masks, 675,000 surgical masks and other gear.

But state and local leaders say those shipments weren’t enough to mount a proper defense against the coronavirus pandemic. So local governments have been asking for PPE donations — and in some cases, buying their own gear.

As the number of coronavirus cases surged in Massachusetts, nurses at a hospital in Milford were desperate. They held up cardboard signs outside the hospital asking for donations of protective gear to wear while treating infected patients.

William Touhey Jr. thought he could help. Touhey is the fire chief and emergency management director in this small town outside of Boston. He did some legwork, and placed an order for 30,000 protective gowns from overseas.

"We were hearing good things that it was coming," Touhey said.

In this Friday, March 27, 2020 photo provided by Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, makeshift hospital rooms stretch out along the floor at the Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York.
Darren McGee / Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo / Associated Press

Wexner Medical Center emergency medicine pharmacist Andrew North says the Jacob Javits Center in New York City hardly looks like a convention hall these days.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine
Office of Gov. Mike DeWine

Some Ohio breweries and distileries have switched from producing alcohol to making hand sanitizer. Other companies are making or recycling medical-grade masks needed by doctors and nurses on the front lines, and some have donated medical supplies. But state leaders are not just relying on the state’s businesses to meet those demands.

Dr. Amy Acton, Ohio Department of Health director
OFFICE OF GOV. MIKE DEWINE

Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton says the state could be looking at issuing protocols for all hospital staff in order to help preserve personal protective equipment or PPE.

Ohio has gotten all that it’s likely to get from the National Strategic Stockpile of medical supplies – a plane dropped off gowns, gloves, coveralls, face shields, surgical masks and N-95 masks in Columbus Tuesday. But the state says it’s not enough for now or through the surge of COVID-19 patients that is expected in the near future.

Paige Pfleger / WOSU

Updated, March 29, 10:00 p.m.

Several large metal shipping containers are lined up in a warehouse on Columbus’ West Side under a large American Flag. Their doors are ajar, and workers stream in and out, power tools buzzing.

Medical personal protective equipment (PPE) is in short supply nationwide due to a surge of COVID-19 patients. Companies have shifted production to make equipment for the crisis, and individuals are stepping up to sew homemade masks.

One community highly equipped to help meet this need is the Amish.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, speaks at a Culinary Union hall Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019, in Las Vegas.
John Locher / Associated Press

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) is pushing the Trump administration to mobilize domestic manufacturers towards COVID-19 efforts.