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Direct Relief re-ordering crucial medical supplies as reserves dwindle

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A shipment of crucial medical supplies needed to combat COVID-19 went out Wednesday to all 50 states.

GOLETA, Calif. - Direct Relief, the Goleta-based humanitarian aid organization, is getting down to its last reserves. 

Direct Relief CEO, Thomas Tighe, said desperate pleas for more medical supplies are coming in from doctors coast to coast, including San Francisco, Boston and New York. 

"We're trying to do everything we can to bolster the frontline," Tighe said. "At the same time, reserve and try to build stocks for medications that will be available for intensive care unit patients. We developed an estimator tool and have been working with the pharmaceutical industry that have come through in anticipation of a spike in patients."

Direct Relief sent out 1,000 shipments Wednesday filled with "PPE," Personal Protective Equipment, to hospitals in all 50 states. (Photo: Tony Morain/Direct Relief)

Crews at the Goleta warehouse are sending 1,000 additional shipments this week to hospitals in all 50 states. Another 900 shipments went out over a week ago.

Tighe said he and his staff just put in an order in for 2.5 million masks, along with more gowns and gloves, supplies known as personal protection equipment or "PPE."

"I think the shortage of the 'PPE' -- the masks, the gloves, the gowns, the face protections -- those are almost crisis mode right now," Tighe said. "That's why we're basically going wide and thin to make sure every front line health center has some protective gear so they can continue to do their work. That's really important, more so than ever as a public health and management of chronic disease issue. At the same time, we are anticipating an increase in intensive care unit patients around the U.S. will create pressure on supplies necessary to care for them for that period of time that they'll be hospitalized."

Tighe shared a sobering fact: the U.S. is close to where China was seven weeks ago today (Wednesday, March 18) with roughly 7,700 cases; a week later in China, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases sky-rocketed up to 30,000. 

"That gives you a sense of why the concern of the public health officials is to prevent that rapid spread, to do as much as can be done to prevent the transmission. And that provides some context for what we see as these extraordinary efforts to lockdown, shelter in place, limit travel and, limit potential exposure."

Tighe said to help combat the coronavirus pandemic, Direct Relief just received two gifts, one from Clorox in the amount of $3 million dollars and one from Verizon, in the amount of $2.5 million dollars.

For more information about Direct Relief or to make a donation, click here.

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Beth Farnsworth

Beth Farnsworth is the evening anchor for KEYT NewsChannel 3.