Miami-Dade stockpiling PPE as country braces for potential coronavirus surge

MEDLEY, FLA. (WSVN) - A potential new surge of COVID-19 has officials in Miami-Dade County taking measures to stockpile personal protective equipment.

7News cameras on Monday captured rows upon rows of boxes inside a 67,000-square-foot warehouse in Medley that is mostly filled with PPE.

County officials said they are working to ship in more masks and gloves as the country braces for a possible third coronavirus surge.

Miami-Dade Emergency Management Director Frank Rollason said they are prepared for a number of disaster scenarios, including a pandemic.

“We’re the doomsday people,” he said.

Rollason is the county’s point person for all things PPE.

“It’s like a treasure hunt,” he said.

Rollason’s idea of treasure these days are non-latex gloves, sanitizing wipes and N95 masks that will be used by government workers and first responders. He said his logistics teams are finding it tough to buy and stock those three items.

What N95s he has secured are kept inside a cooled part of the warehouse.

Each mask is counted. As of Monday, the county has precisely 579,469 N95s. Some of these items will be sent to schools and hospitals.

When asked how many he would like to see stored at the warehouse, Rollason replied, “I want another million. We’ve been through a spike before where we run out of stuff. We don’t want to run out of stuff. I want to supply everything and have a bunch left over.”

What makes maintaining a stockpile for the pandemic difficult is that the PPE is disposable and designed to be used just once.

Consequently, the demand never diminishes, and the competition is fierce.

When asked how hard it is to secure the shipments of PPE, Rollason replied, “It’s very difficult.”

Rollason wants the warehouse’s empty shelves filled, and filled fast.

“Listen, I go round and round with the logistics guy. I think he’s got a doll he puts pins in with a lock of my hair, because I am saying, ‘Hey, John get this! Get this stuff! I need this stuff,'” he said.

Rollason said one bright spot here is that PPE prices have gone back down after they skyrocketed right after the pandemic hit.

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