John Wareham/News Mark Maxwell, director of the Knox County Emergency Management Agency, discusses the role of local officials during a disaster training Saturday at the Kokosing Training Center in Fredericktown.
File Photo
Mark Maxwell, director of the Knox County Emergency Management Agency, discusses the role of local officials during a disaster training February 12, 2019 at the Kokosing Training Center in Fredericktown.

MOUNT VERNON — Knox County’s Emergency Operations Center received delivery of PPEs — Personal Protective Equipment — Monday from the Strategic National Stockpile, county Emergency Management Agency Director Mark Maxwell said Wednesday.

And, as he anticipated, the numbers were far short of what Knox County had requested to help its front-line health workers remain safe while combating the spread of COVID-19, a problem caused by national shortages of PPEs. Sure enough, the numbers were far short of what was asked: No eye shields or goggles after a request of 2,500; 1,000 gloves when 20,000 were requested; 240 N95 masks after a request of 5,000; 148 surgical gowns following a request of 1,575; and 1,200 surgical masks received though none had been requested. Maxwell explained the surgical masks by saying the national stockpile sets aside different medical supplies for numerous types of events.

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Maxwell said there are two good things to report that help the situation. One is that the Strategic National Stockpile is scheduled to make another delivery Friday to the county EOC, though the delivery is not expected to result in as many PPEs as the first delivery.

Also encouraging is that private businesses in Knox County, as well as local schools, have stepped up by providing supplies such as gloves and masks. They have substantially increased the EOC’s supply, he said, adding that even more donations are welcome and badly needed, including hard-to-find items like surgical gowns. One example of that aid to EOC is Central Ohio Technical College, which announced through social media that it’s nursing and surgical technology programs had donated excess supplies such as masks, gowns, gloves, alcohol wipes and hand sanitizer. Knox County Career Center has also reported donating similar supplies.

“One of the things Knox County is known for is when there’s an emergency like there is now, everybody comes together to help each other out,” he said.

Knox Public Health has asked for anyone with medical supply-related donations, from masks and gloves down to hand sanitizer and hand wipes, to phone in those donations to the call center (740-399-8014) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Each weekday morning, Maxwell said, Knox County EOC’s Unified Command Group, with Knox Public Health being the lead agency, meets to discuss how to prioritize a working plan that pertains to serving public health needs and those who provide health services during the current COVID-19 virus-related pandemic. The goal is to gain situational awareness to develop a common operating picture — in other words, it means all health-related stakeholders working together to prioritize needs, including PPEs, to get their jobs done, safely. The county’s EOC has gone from a monitoring status to a partial activation status to begin dealing with the pandemic at the local level.

The EOC issues situational reports throughout the week, with Maxwell offering that one of the most important messages is “it is critically important to use conservation measures for all PPE.” Just this week, Maxwell said he has sent out notices to all health provider stakeholders, such as first responders, asking them to provide their current amount of PPE, their current “burn rates,” or amounts used within a specific time, to determine when they will start running out of supplies. Maxwell said he cannot provide any estimates yet because those notices only went out this week.

“EMA must be able to maintain a common operating picture of all of our local resources to be able to effectively prioritize and distribute scarce PPE resources,” Monday’s situational report stated.

Maxwell is scheduled to be today’s guest on Knox Public Health’s daily Facebook Live update with Health Commissioner Julie Miller.

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Larry Di Giovanni: 740-397-5333 or larry@mountvernonnews.com and on Twitter, @mountvernonnews