Although COVID-19 cases are declining in our state, there are very real concerns about a second wave.
To date, the state of Connecticut has spent more than $93 million on personal protective equipment, with the aim of building its own stockpile.
In the middle of March the state of Connecticut figured out it was not going to get the PPE it needed from the federal stockpile so it started its own purchasing.
The centralized system it set up involves the Department of Administrative Services, which sources the PPE, and the Department of Correction, which purchases it. Once it arrives, the National Guard secures it in a warehouse in New Britain and distributes it.
Since March 22, the state has spent $93 million on PPE. That doesn’t include the $15 million donation it received on May 12.
Gov. Ned Lamont’s Chief Operating Office Josh Geballe said it was clear by the second week of March that the state would have to take action and purchase its own PPE.
“That was really the point in time when it became clear that the supply chain was breaking down and we couldn’t count on the federal government,” Geballe said.
In total the state has received over 55 million pieces of PPE and still has about 10 million in inventory, but that’s far less than the state would need if it gets hit by a second wave of infections.
Connecticut’s hospitals have gone back to purchasing their own, but nonprofits, state agencies, and nursing homes are still relying on the state for PPE.
Andrea Riley, a nurse at Windham Community Memorial Hospital and vice president of the Windham Federation of Professional Nurses, AFT Local 5041, said things are beginning to return to normal. She said the amount of PPE in the emergency room is adequate and enough to make her and her colleagues feel safe at the moment.
“For several weeks now the hospitals have become self-sufficient again,” Geballe said. “They have good supply chains. They’re doing all their own procurement. We still are supplying through the mutual aid program a number of nursing homes, nonprofits and certainly all the state agencies.”
Geballe said the purchasing is continuing. Thirty-five percent of Connecticut’s PPE orders are still pending.
And the seven-state purchasing consortium announced on May 3 it never made any joint bulk purchases of PPE.
“Those discussions are still ongoing. I think that there’s a shared view that there could be purchasing efficiencies,” Geballe said. “We’ve been sharing suppliers amongst each other. We’re also increasingly of the view that we want to build our own reserves, right, in anticipation of potentially a second wave.”
However, he said as the supply chain stabilizes there’s less of a need for that.
“Supply and demand have come more into balance and I think Josh pointed out to me that we’re um maybe the surgical masks were going at maybe $7 just a few months ago, now we’re at less than a dollar,” Lamont said.
Lamont said they’re not depending on Washington when it comes to PPE.