County workers left $7 Million in PPE outside for months. Much of it has been destroyed.

Around $7 million worth of personal protective equipment and cleaning products has been destroyed in San Mateo County after workers allowed it to sit out in heavy rain for months. The egregious waste comes amid new PPE shortages caused by disruptions in the global supply chain.

San Mateo purchased the excess supplies early on during the pandemic. But demand waned as coronavirus cases fell. Then last fall, the supplies were placed outside to make room for an event at the San Mateo Event Center.

“For months prior to the supplies being moved outdoors, the County worked with the California Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) to offer these surplus supplies free of charge to health care providers and other agencies, including schools, and other states, but few accepted the offer because sizes, quantities, other considerations made them less appropriate,” according to the county.

“The surplus materials were moved from a building at the Event Center in mid-September to an outside fenced area to accommodate other needs for the space but should have been returned inside once the event was over. Storage space was not available at other County facilities.”

The county has apologized. An investigation into the mishap is underway. All the products are being inspected to see what can be salvaged.


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Finance

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