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Spokane County businesses can now reserve free personal protective equipment for reopening

Kristi Scates, a nurse from Providence Holy Family Hospital, wears personal protective equipment (PPE) in April at a COVID-19 screening station in April. Small businesses in Spokane County will have access to free PPE purchased with federal assistance starting later this month.  (COLIN MULVANY)
Kristi Scates, a nurse from Providence Holy Family Hospital, wears personal protective equipment (PPE) in April at a COVID-19 screening station in April. Small businesses in Spokane County will have access to free PPE purchased with federal assistance starting later this month. (COLIN MULVANY)

Small businesses will soon have access to free hand sanitizer, disinfectant and personal protective equipment at a supply drive-thru at the Spokane County Fairgrounds later this month.

Spokane County Commissioners recently approved using CARES Act funds to purchase about $2 million worth of cleaning products, gloves and masks, which will be available for pickup June 29 through July 2.

Only businesses and nonprofits with 49 or fewer employees will qualify, which is about 16,000 of Spokane County’s businesses. The program is paid for through federal COVID-19 aid funds, but will be administered by Spokane County staff, Greater Spokane Incorporated and volunteers.

In a statement released Friday, Spokane County Commissioner Al French said available PPE was one of the steps needed to move the county toward Phase 3 of the governor’s reopening plan.

“Businesses and nonprofits throughout our region have made it clear that they are ready to follow strict guidelines for use of personal protective equipment and sanitation practices,” he said. “As a Board, our focus is to do everything we can to get our economy rolling again safely. We will continue to look for ways to do this as we determine future allocations of the federal CARES Act funding.”

Cindy Wendle, who is contracting with GSI to administer the program, said businesses should register to reserve PPE as soon as they can. She said businesses can reserve PPE the day they pick it up, but said she doesn’t know how long the county’s supplies will last. She said if there is an overwhelming demand for PPE, they may consider asking the county for more funding for additional supplies.

Wendle estimates they will have enough supplies to provide a gallon of hand sanitizer and a gallon of disinfectant per business, as well as a box of vinyl gloves, a box of disposable masks and a box of cloth masks. She said childrens masks may be available for qualifying businesses, such as day cares.

To reserve PPE, businesses must register online. To register, they will need a UBI number, ZIP code and business name. During registration they will also answer questions about how many employees they have, which will determine how much PPE they are eligible to receive.

Cara Coon, vice president of communication and public affairs for GSI, said volunteers and workers will handle distribution of PPE when businesses arrive to pick it up. She said organizers are trying to stick to a strict schedule where businesses arrive at the time they signed up for to avoid a crowd or traffic issues. She said businesses only need to drive through each station and a worker will load the type of PPE they need in their vehicle.

To sign up, businesses should go to www.surveygizmo.com/s3/5664867/PPERegistration. For questions about the OPENTogether PPE program, businesses can email ppeinfo@greaterspokane.org. Once they register, businesses will be able to pick up PPE from June 29 to July 2 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Spokane County Fairgrounds. The Fairgrounds are located at 404 N. Havana St. in Spokane Valley.

Wendle said more details on supplies and a way for people who would like to sign up to volunteer at the distribution event will be released next week. Registration is not currently available in other languages, but Wendle said the team working on the PPE program would like barriers to participate to be as low as possible and is working on including other languages, which may be also available sometime next week.

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