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Blair to buy supply of PPE

60-day stockpile will be managed by EMA

HOLLIDAYSBURG — Blair County commissioners have OK’d the purchase of a 60-day stockpile of personal protective equipment that the county’s Emergency Management Agency will manage.

Commissioners approved the purchase during a business meeting convened Wednesday through video and telephone connections.

While the cost is unknown, the county expects a 75% reimbursement from federal disaster grant funds and a 25% reimbursement from state disaster grant funds.

The EMA office will use the state’s cooperative purchasing program, known as Costars, to identify an approved vendor who can supply good quality products, EMA Operations and Training Officer Cris Fredrickson told commissioners during a Tuesday work session.

Because vendors are posting prices that are valid for short times, Fredrickson said she didn’t know how much the county will pay for a 60-day stockpile of personal protective equipment.

“We don’t have any idea on the cost,” she told commissioners.

The agency desires to have a 60-day stockpile of PPE for those engaging in emergency responses and others, including health care workers, patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infections and first responders.

The recent increase in local coronavirus cases is concerning, Public Safety Mark Taylor told commissioners at the meeting where Fredrickson spoke of the stockpile purchase.

While more county residents are being tested, Taylor said the positive results are reaching “numbers we never expected to see.”

The state Department of Health, as of Wednesday, reported 2,748 positive test results among Blair County’s 122,492 residents and 43 deaths.

Taylor also said that the state’s Regional Response Health Collaborative and the National Guard are assisting two local nursing homes addressing recent COVID-19 outbreaks. Blair County has 19 nursing facilities where the state, through Nov. 17, has identified 228 coronavirus cases among facility residents, 55 cases among staff members and 21 deaths.

Commissioners acknowledged the recent increase in COVID-19 cases during Tuesday’s meeting and called upon county residents to be careful.

“We do need to take precautions,” Commissioner Amy Webster said.

A few hours later, the state Department of Health issued directives calling for use of facial masks in all indoor facilities where people from different households gather. The department also advised Pennsylvania residents returning from out-of-state to be tested for COVID-19 within three days or to quarantine for 14 days.

Pennsylvania’s coronavirus infections have gone up about 115% in two weeks, recent numbers show.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 814-946-7456.

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