San Mateo County’s surplus COVID-19 supplies damaged by rain after being left outside

SAN MATEO – Millions of dollars in personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies purchased by San Mateo County in response to the COVID-19 pandemic were damaged by recent storms after being left outside, the county chief said.

The items were moved out of the San Mateo Event Center in mid-September to make room for an event, County Chief Mike Callagy said in a announcement Friday afternoon.

“The county is solely responsible for our materials at the Event Center,” Callagy said. “We deeply regret that this happened and we are hiring an external investigator to identify all the facts related to the damage and make recommendations to avoid future incidents.”

The statement followed an ABC7 News report about the situation at the Event Center.

Callagy said the county bought the items early in the pandemic as no one knew how long global supply shortages would last and jurisdictions nationwide were in the process of purchasing safety equipment to keep first aiders and communities safe.

The estimated value of the items is $ 7 million. The items include non-medical insulation dresses, face shields, bleach and mop buckets.

“While the storms damaged some exterior packaging, most of the supplies are individually wrapped,” Callagy said. “The county is actively inspecting and cleaning the materials with plans to donate undamaged goods to a non-profit organization.”

For several months before the items were moved outdoors, the county worked with the California Office of Emergency Services to offer the items free of charge to health care providers and other agencies and states, but few accepted the offer, Callagy said.

Callagy said the items should have been moved back to the event center after the event was over. Storage space, he added, was not available at other county facilities.


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