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Strategic National Stockpile fails to quench Ohio’s need for medical supplies

"There just wasn't enough."

NEWBURGH HEIGHTS, Ohio — Counties around northeast Ohio have received their cut of medical supplies from the federal Strategic National Stockpile.

The consensus reaction: Thanks, but please send more gowns, gloves and N-95 and surgical masks.

“Even though we got more than just about anybody, it wasn’t very much. There just wasn’t enough,” said Armond Budish, county executive for Cuyahoga County.

State health officials say the federal stockpile released about 25 percent of its inventory to agencies across the country in response to crippling supply shortages due to the coronavirus.

Ohio, in turn, released 80 percent of what it received to state counties. Ohio held back 20 percent of what it received from the federal stockpile for future use.

For Summit County, that meant five pallets of assorted supplies that they will now turn over to hospitals and first responders. Like other counties, it’s never enough as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on.

“We want to be prepared,” said Chris Barker, Summit County’s emergency preparedness supervisor. “That’s the situation we’re in. That’s because resources are scarce, not only in Summit County, but the state of Ohio, the whole country.

“There are shortages.”

Counties across the state are struggling to decide who gets a cut of the supplies. And many counties are urging providers to reuse and conserve supplies they have on hand.

Bryan Kloss, emergency operations center manager in Cuyahoga County said the region’s inventory is currently stable. The fear is the unknown; what awaits as more and more people become infected and demand for supplies increase.

"With the supplies we have on hand, we're able to look at the need, who is about to run out in two days,” Kloss said. “That's going to be our focus. So, this is going to be a day-by-day case.

“However, we still know we have at least a good month of supplies."

To help meet demand, the county is accepting donations, from residents to other medical providers, who are able to share masks and gowns and other items. The collection center is located at 2501 Harvard Ave. in Newburgh Heights.

Medical experts insist that residents maintain distance and observe Ohio’s “shelter in place” mandate to curb spreading the virus and thus ease up demand for hospitals and medical supplies.

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