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Direct Relief sends large shipment to hospitals in all 50 states, again

GOLETA, Calif. - Another massive shipment that will take two days to prep, package and send, will soon be on its way from Direct Relief's warehouse in Goleta to hospitals and clinics in all 50 states.

"There's a shortage everywhere," said Andrew MacCalla, Direct Relief's Vice President of Emergency Response. "This has been an unprecedented global pandemic, we've never seen anything like this. Everyone in the entire world needs the exact same things at the same time. And where this is all made is China, which got hit hard two months ago."

MacCalla carried a box filled with highly coveted N95 protective masks to add to the warehouse assembly line.

"How many masks per box?" asked reporter Beth Farnsworth.

"250," MacCalla said, as he pulled back the lid.

Organizing the medical cache of 1,000 shipments was underway Friday and expected to take Direct Relief crews part of Saturday as well.

On Thursday, the Goleta non-profit delivered medical supplies to help replenish local stocks at Cottage hospital and clinics in Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties. That delivery came on the heels of back-to-back national shipments sent out in recent weeks. 

Santa Barbara County Public Health accessed some of its medical supplies this week which are stored in the same warehouse. 

"For the COVID response, we have some shortages and in some areas we're doing ok," said Jan Koegler, Manager for Public Health Emergency Preparedness at Santa Barbara County Public Health Department. "We've distributed masks to 31 different health care agnencies and facilites, about 77,000 masks."

Koegler thanked Direct Relief for its partnership and help supplying critical PPE or Personal Protective Equipment.

"So, we're doing ok on the N95 masks," Koegler said. "It's really the procedure masks, the goggles, and the gowns that we are short on. We are expecting to run out at some point."

The rise in COVID-19 cases has hospitals across the country low or depleted of crucial supplies, including those protective masks and gowns. MacCalla said Direct Relief is sending out its stockpile as fast as it can.

"Our equpment is ok for now," Koegler said. "If we had a huge surge on our hospitals, I think we would be in not as good shape but we are looking at every possible resource and communicating with hospitals and out-patient providers daily to monitor shortages." Koeler added, "We also have a Scarce Medical Resource Group that looks at where the resources are most needed and how to allocate them appropriately for the best care possible."

In the meantime, Direct Relief is helping states and countries most in need. MacCalla said at this time, that does not include China. 

"Direct Relief focused two months ago on China because that's where this outbreak started and they asked us for help," MacCalla said. "The head of Wuhan Union Hospital, where this started, asked for help. But we haven't shipped anything to China for over a month, when the outbreak really got big here and the rest of the world. And now, China is recovering and they don't need our help so, we've stopped sending to China."

If you would like to donate to Direct Relief to help in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic, click the following link: https://www.directrelief.org/

For current, local updates on COVID-19, monitor Santa Barbara County's website at: https://publichealthsbc.org/

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Beth Farnsworth

Beth Farnsworth is the evening anchor for KEYT NewsChannel 3.