NEWBURGH HEIGHTS, Ohio — Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish said Tuesday he plans to spend another $1 million to buy personal protective equipment to meet what he called a "tremendous need" during the COVID-19 pandemic. Budish said the latest authorization is in addition to the $1 million announced last week.
"Basically, if we can find it, we're going to buy it because it can be used right now," said Budish.
The most-recent figures released by Cuyahoga County's Board of Health show about one-quarter of all coronavirus cases in the county are health care workers underscoring the need to protect those on the front lines of the fight against the virus.
"We can use all different types, gloves and face masks and sanitizers, you name it, we need it and in large quantities," said Budish.
In the last week the county said it received two shipments from the federal government's strategic national supply.
"We've gotten 43,000 gloves, some 27,000 N-95 masks, 9,700 gowns and 73,000 surgical masks," said Budish. "Which is ok, but is less than a drop in the bucket."
Budish said one hospital alone requested 19 million gloves. That's in addition to requests for hundreds of thousands of face masks and other protective equipment the county is trying to fulfill.
"The hospitals, even the county had some stocks, but nobody was prepared for a pandemic that is catastrophic, that's never been seen before in this world," said Budish.
The county is monitoring supply levels, and prioritizing which hospitals, care facilities and first responders get equipment as it comes in.
The health department is also reaching out to medical providers who specialize in non-essential care looking for donations.
"We have a couple boxes of masks and some surgical gowns," said Valerie Rowan, Practice Manager for Cleveland Plastic Surgery as she pulled into the county's warehouse to donate. "I'm sure it's very frightening for all of them to go in and not have the equipment they need, so we wanted to do what we could."
The county said the number of items donated has actually surpassed the amount of PPE received from the federal government. Another shipment is expected this week, but Budish predicted it won't be enough to cover the need.
"Much of the stockpile is gone, so we will get another shipment, we may get more than that down the road, but there's not that much left," he said.
The county is still waiting on delivery of hundreds of thousands more supplies that have been ordered, but Budish said more donations will likely be needed as the number of coronavirus cases in Cuyahoga County grows.
"Just look at New York, they're walking around in gowns made out of trash bags," said Budish. "I mean we can't have that here and we won't have that here. We will get people wat they need to the extent we absolutely can."
If you have personal protective equipment you would like to donate, the county's drop-off center is located at 2501 Harvard Avenue in Newburgh Heights. It's open Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.