Jacob Nicholson

State officials have set up a new distribution system for the personal protective equipment from the state’s stockpile.

“We worked in partnership with the county emergency management coordinators from Butler, Cherokee, Linn, Mahaska, Polk, Pottawattamie and Union County to establish seven PPE hubs or nodes,” said Jacob Nicholson, head of the Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management’s response division. “These nodes will supply county emergency management coordinators and county EOCs with PPE needed to address supply shortages.”

Nursing homes with Covid outbreaks may get a week’s supply of PPE. Requests for material from the state’s stockpile from other nursing homes as well as hospitals and health care providers are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

“From the very beginning of the state’s pandemic response, our hospitals, long term care facilities and other health care providers have been requesting state PPE and other supplies through their county emergency management coordinators when they experience shortages,” Nicholson said. “We believe our latest distribution model will enable those facilities to have those requests filled more rapidly than ever before.”

Over the past three weeks, with the increase in positive Covid cases in Iowa, Nicholson said there’s been a significant increase in usage rates for PPE.

“Even taking into account these increased usage rates, we have over 16 months’ supply of gloves and over 18 months’ supply of disposable gowns remaining in our stockpile,” he said. “Additionally we have executed contracts with suppliers for these high demand items, with resupply shipments scheduled to be delivered to our warehouse every month for the next seven months.”

Nicholson spoke at Governor Reynolds’ news conference Tuesday. He did not mention how many masks are on hand in the state stockpile. The governor’s spokesman later said the state has a 23-month supply of cloth and disposable face masks.

According to Nicholson, the state has distributed 15.7 million items from its medical supply stockpile since the pandemic began. Those items range in size from ventilators to the boxes of tissues Covid test takers use to blow their noses before a nurse takes a nasal swab at a Test Iowa site.

The five state-operated Test Iowa sites in Waterloo, Cedar Rapids, Des Moines, Council Bluffs and Davenport will be closed tomorrow for the Thanksgiving holiday. The State Hygienic Lab where the Test Iowa kits are processed will be closed tomorrow, too.