Gov. Steve Bullock toured a Helena warehouse Tuesday, to get a look at Montana’s current stockpile of personal protective equipment and other supplies for the COVID-19 emergency.
State workers collect the supplies there. They then take requests from health care providers and counties across the state, determine where the supplies are needed and ship them out.
Montana leaders have been working to secure items like N95 masks from a variety of sources, either through the Federal Emergency Management Agency or by purchasing them directly. The most recent supplies to come in to the warehouse were an order of 500,000 N95 masks from FEMA.
“Recognize that each one of those masks represents keeping a health care provider safe,” said Bullock.
With a Battelle decontamination station now operating in Helena, each of those masks can be reused multiple times – greatly extending the state’s supply. Nevertheless, a representative of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services said the latest N95 shipment would likely be fully allocated to local agencies within two weeks.
While the state has received more masks, leaders said they are still looking for more surgical gloves and gowns.
National Guard members were also at work in the warehouse Tuesday, putting together COVID-19 testing kits, with swabs and reagent chemicals.
Bullock said, as the state plans for continued reopening, all of these supplies will be especially important. He praised agencies for working together to make sure the state’s needs are met.
“By and large, compared to where we were even six weeks ago, we’re in a great position, and we’re prepared to keep our health care providers and first responders equipped all throughout COVID-19,” he said.