As long as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it is imperative to protect healthcare workers, first responders, and other essential frontline workers from the COVID-19 virus as it is vital to contain the spread of the pandemic. The CDC has strongly advised people to wear face masks when going out in public. Additionally, all the frontline workers that are exposed to the public need high-quality personal protective equipment to keep them safe. PPE protects individuals from exposure to COVID-19 and other potentially dangerous substances. However, due to an increased demand for PPE gear, cities, towns, villages are undergoing difficult times acquiring PPE for their essential workers including police officers, healthcare professionals, firefighters, emergency medical service providers, and others. Co-Defend, one of the leading bulk PPE suppliers in the USA, comes in the response phase of COVID-19 to provide a continuous supply of PPE and other important medical supplies to frontline warriors of COVID-19.
What is Personal Protective Equipment?
According to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, Personal Protective Equipment, or PPE is worn to reduce injury or illness in the workplace. In the context of the novel coronavirus, PPE is described as the equipment needed by medical and healthcare professionals treating COVID+ cases, and other essential staff including first responders and employees who daily interact with the public.
The PPE has become a mandatory part of the uniform the health care providers, first responders, and other government employees to provide an appropriate level of protection against the virus while allowing them to perform essential operations.
Some of the components of PPE include:
- Respiratory equipment such as air-purifying respirators, N95 air respirators,
- Protective clothing such as encapsulated suits, coveralls, and isolation gowns
- Protective gear such as medical-grade face masks, goggles, face shields, protective hoods, boots, and gloves, etc.
As the most trusted and reliable bulk PPE suppliers in the USA, we provide all kinds of PPE apparel under one roof, so that you don’t have to go anywhere to buy different items. You’ll find everything at Co-Defend.
How to Ensure Adequate PPE for the Essential Workers?
The local government bodies should work with federal partners to make sure they have adequate PPEs for their health care providers, first responders, and other government workers.
- Identify who needs a PPE, be it health care providers, emergency medical professionals, childcare providers, law enforcement officers, firefighters, coroners, corrections workers, social workers, food service workers, and more.
- Identify the types and quantity of PPEs required for each type of service provider that needs to be protected. For example, grocery store workers should wear face masks at least; meatpacking plant workers should wear disposable masks, gloves, and gowns. First responders need to wear N95 respirators or better, and proper medical protective clothing. Childcare workers can wear surgical masks unless they’re in a hospital setting.
- Keep an eye on the conduct and inventory of the personal protective equipment currently available.
- Inform your state point of contact (POC) that works with FEMA about the types and quantities of PPEs required. If your state POC is not responding to your PPE request, you should get in touch with the Regional FEMA Office. You can even contact the district office for your Member of Congress and ask them to assist in expediting the PPE request.
- You should know what federal grants are available for personal protective equipment. Since most grants cannot be combined, you need to select the best type of grant that is available for the type of PPE required. For instance, for law enforcement, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) provided an additional $850 million for Bureau of Justice Assistance Grants, and for firefighters, an additional $100 million for Assistance to Firefighter Grants.
- The dire shortage in PPE supplies led to the emergence of many personal protective equipment manufacturers that are carrying out illegal activities including scams, price gouging, and hoarding. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has identified the hoarding of different types of PPEs and is working with the Department of Health and Human Services authority under Defense Production Act for promptly acquiring the PPE and making it available to the high-demanding states and local governments. Meanwhile, the local governments must be aware of the potential for PPE price gouging and hoarding and work with their law enforcement firms to report these illegal activities to the FBI.
How Can Local Governments Protect Essential Workers and Encourage Safe Behavior?
Local governments can adopt several measures to ensure the safety of their workforce, support frontline healthcare service providers, and encourage adhering to OSHA and CDC guidance.
- Build open, regular communication with healthcare professionals
Local healthcare firms are the experts that can better tell what type of PPE is required in your area for frontline healthcare professionals.
- Understand the PPE scenario
The role that the personal protective equipment manufacturers will play in supplying PPE will depend on several factors including their capacity, ongoing efforts in the region, working with healthcare facilities. Big cities with extra capacity may serve as epicenters to coordinate the continuous supply of PPE in their region while others may partner with a community organization familiar with the PPE supply chain.
- Use your communication tools and platforms
Many personal protective equipment suppliers have set up online portals for people looking to donate or sell PPE and other medical supplies and essential businesses looking to acquire PPE. These sites also provide useful information to answer questions about what PPE is required or recommended.
- Support Essential Staff
Besides providing adequate personal protective equipment, many local leaders and private sector organizations have been providing hazard pay, increased wages, paid sick leave, and free transportation to the frontline, essential workers.
Here are some measures that communities around the country are taking to lessen the burden of our essential workers:
- Extensive COVID-19 testing for essential staff that is at a greater risk for transmission can help in monitoring their health conditions and reduce the spread of the virus.
- If your employees are sick, give them sick leave. The Center for Disease Control recommends flexible sick time and suggests employees be given advances on future sick time or to provide sick time to others in need.
- Ensure they have appropriate PPE. Wearing PPE is a must for frontline workers who interact with the public.
- Provide childcare facilities to essential workers at affordable charges.
- Provide free transportation to low-wage, essential workers.
- Provide free meals and care packages to low-wage workers. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a Coronavirus Food Assistance Program that will buy $3 billion in produce, dairy, and meat to distribute them to food banks. The federal government also announced an additional $2 billion will be given to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
As we all have been adversely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, the low-wage, essential workers have felt the pinch more than well-to-do families. This is unprecedented suffering for all of us, but it would be worse without the services provided by these frontline, essential workers. Therefore, it is a shared duty to do what we can to reduce their burden and sacrifice that they have been doing just to keep us safe.
As one of the leading bulk PPE suppliers in the USA, Co-Defend is committed to helping the front-line warriors of COVID-19 by providing high-quality, medical-grade PPE and other medical supplies at the most affordable rates to help every individual in the fight against COVID-19.