Pinellas down to about two weeks of supplies to respond to coronavirus

Liza Conrad, associate professor of biology at Eckerd, encourages others to donate needed supplies to Pinellas County Emergency Management if they can. Eckerd is donating personal protective equipment purchased for its laboratory classes, which are not meeting in person during the spring semester.

Pinellas County officials say only two weeks of needed medical supplies remain for first responders and healthcare workers on the frontlines of the war against the coronavirus.

That was the word from county officials on March 27.

The county put out a request March 24 asking for donations of personal protective equipment and disinfectants from the public. At that time, concerns were mounting that supplies wouldn’t last as the need to respond to the virus continues for an undetermined length of time.

The supplies are needed for hospitals, first responders, emergency medical services, nursing homes, home healthcare workers and others.

Since that initial call for help went out, the county reports it has received “tens of thousands” of critically needed items from business, universities, colleges and individuals, including Eckerd College, Schiller University and Fiberglass Coatings Inc.

“Eckerd College is donating personal protection equipment to Pinellas County Emergency Management for medical workers and anyone else in need of it to help fight the coronavirus,” said Liza Conrad, associate professor of biology at Eckerd.

She said the equipment had been purchased for the college’s labs use during the spring semester.

“Since we’re no longer holding classes in person, we won’t be holding laboratory classes, so we’re donating to Emergency management so it can be used elsewhere,” she said.

Among the items Eckerd donated are 14,000 pairs of nitrile gloves, 200 facemasks, including some N95 masks, and about 100 pairs of surgical glasses.

Conrad encouraged others to help out if they can.

“I think any college or business or laboratory in the area that has been closed down should be donating their PPE (personal protective equipment),” she said. “If we don’t need it in our lab, then there are certainly people who can use it right now.”

Personal protective equipment needed includes:

• Surgical face masks (homemade face masks are not being accepted at this time)

• P100 masks

• N95 masks

• Face shields

• Nitrile exam gloves, powder free

• 5 and 7 mil nitrile gloves

• Eye protection - safety glasses

• Surgical tear away gowns

• Safety eye goggles

Disinfectants requested include:

• Hand sanitizer (any size) 60% Alcohol

• 91% isopropyl alcohol

• Clorox wipes

• Lysol disinfectant spray

• Sani-cloth wipes

• 3% hydrogen peroxide

Medical devices requested (new and unused only):

• Ventilators - Hospital, Transport, Home Use — Invasive positive pressure ventilators that can be utilized for intubated patients

• CPAP — Hospital, Disposable, Home Sleep Apnea

• BiPAP/BiLevel — Hospital, Disposable, Home Sleep Apnea

• High Flow Nasal Cannula Set-ups

Donations can be delivered to Walsingham Park, 12615 102nd Ave., Seminole; and Tropicana Field, Lot 4, 198 17th St. S., St. Petersburg, Monday, March 30-Saturday, April 4, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

The sites also will be accepting donations of nonperishable food items.

Dave Conner, marketing and public information manager, said more dates for collections will be added if needed.

Connor said the county wants to be as prepared as possible to make sure it can keep up with its own demands. He reminded the public that this is a very different situation from what might be encountered during a hurricane when help would be available from other locations.

“Effectively, the world is experiencing shortage issues,” he said. “Help isn’t available from other places.”

Anyone that can provide needed items can call the Citizens Information Center at 727-464-4333, 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday; and Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Those with hearing impairment can chat online at www.bit.ly/PinellasChat.

Pinellas County is soliciting the help of the business community directly. For up-to-date information on opportunities for business donations, visit www.pced.org/donate.

Local food banks need help

Residents and businesses also are asked to help local food banks. Non-perishable food supplies can be taken to:

• Tarpon Springs Shepherd Center, 304 S. Pinellas Ave., Tarpon Springs. http://tscenter.org. Food Donations accepted: Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.- 5 p.m.

• RCS Pinellas, 700 Druid Road, Clearwater. https://rcspinellas.org. Food Donations accepted: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Thursdays 8 a.m.-7 p.m.

• St. Pete Free Clinic, 863 Third Ave. N., St. Petersburg. https://stpetersburgfreeclinic.org. Food donations accepted: Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 am.-12:30 p.m.

Suzette Porter is TBN’s Pinellas County editor. She can be reached at sporter@tbnweekly.com.