MOUNT VERNON — Knox County was expecting a need to stretch medical supplies due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But, Emergency Management Agency Director Mark Maxwell said Thursday that one business came through in a big way to help local healthcare workers — by donating 900 N95 facemasks. The masks are designed to achieve a close facial fit and protect wearers from airborne particles and liquids that could contaminate the face.
Maxwell, who operates the Knox County Emergency Operations Center, said businesses and schools are giving such generous donations without wanting any recognition in return. He provided an update on Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) Thursday during a Facebook Live broadcast in tandem with Knox Public Health Commissioner Julie Miller. On Monday, due to national shortages of PPEs, a Strategic National Stockpile delivery of N95 masks had yielded just 240 after the county requested 5,000.
Also requested were eye shields/goggles, with none provided, along with much lower-than-requested amounts of surgical gowns. The county did receive a supply of 1,200 surgical masks but had not requested any. Another delivery from the national stockpile is expected today.
Knox Public Health has reported that residents are donating homemade masks and even gowns to help protect those battling the virus. They are being accepted by local fire and EMS departments. Those donating may drop them off at the stations and should call the stations to let them know of the donations.
This week, Maxwell said the EOC has asked all healthcare-related stakeholders in the county to provide their current amounts of PPEs to the county Emergency Management Agency, so priorities can be developed when shortages occur. Knox County EOC is following guidelines for future PPE distribution from Central Ohio Trauma Systems. Top priority would be given to Emergency Medical Services workers, such as paramedics and EMTs. Next, in order, would be home providers, followed by dialysis centers, cancer centers, law enforcement officers and hospitals. He said hospitals are low on the list because they have temporarily suspended elective surgeries and procedures that are not considered a priority.
Miller provided a brief COVID-19 update for Knox County, stating that 16 specimen test kits sent away for testing yielded two positive results, eight negative results, and six that are still pending. She also said Knox Public Health worked with a local fire department to conduct an investigation, after having received more than 100 calls related to health practices and safety at a local business. The health department made sure that proper health guidelines were being followed but did not elaborate.
Maxwell advised residents to make sure they have enough supplies, including food, water and medicine, for 14 days, should they need to become self-quarantined in the future. He also said essential businesses should consider becoming members of OP3, the Ohio Public-Private Partnership. Becoming a member means one’s essential employees can become credentialed through the Emergency Partner Credentialing System, which is provided at no cost to the user but does require a business being an OP3 member.