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COVID-19

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Can your Washington business provide supplies needed to fight COVID-19? If yes, do this

UPDATED: Wed., March 25, 2020

Alex Shannon, brand ambassador for Dry Fly labels containers of Spokanitizer, the company's COVID-19 hand sanitizer on Monday, March 23, 2020, at Dry Fly Distilling in Spokane. Washington’s Commerce Department is asking businesses that might be able to provide supplies needed in response to the pandemic to contact them. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
Alex Shannon, brand ambassador for Dry Fly labels containers of Spokanitizer, the company's COVID-19 hand sanitizer on Monday, March 23, 2020, at Dry Fly Distilling in Spokane. Washington’s Commerce Department is asking businesses that might be able to provide supplies needed in response to the pandemic to contact them. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

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Washington’s Department of Commerce is urging the state’s manufacturers who are able to sell or donate badly needed medical equipment to contact them directly.

“The thing that is amazing, I have to say, is that people are coming out of the woodwork to try to help,” said Sarah Lee, director of advanced manufacturing for the department’s Office of Economic Development & Competitiveness.

Emailing the department using the address covidmanufacturing@commerce.wa.gov is the quickest way to ensure that Commerce officials see what a company can make, how much it can make and how quickly it can make it, Lee said, which can then be used to determine procurement.

The Washington Department of Enterprise Services has a list of needed personal protective equipment (PPE) and sanitizing products that they’re hoping companies will be able to produce should a surge of COVID-19 patients begin filling the region’s hospitals and clinics.

“That’s what we’re focused on right now,” Lee said.

The list includes protective masks, hand sanitizer, disinfecting spray, gloves and gowns, among other items.

Washington Commerce Director Lisa Brown reached out to The Spokesman-Review on Wednesday, citing a story about a Spokane Valley company that used Twitter to communicate its ability to manufacture ventilators. Commerce officials are actively working with manufacturers and urging others to contact the department directly with their capabilities, Brown said.

“The states are kind of in the lead here,” Brown said.

The department is working with firms that can sell or donate supplies, as well as those looking to alter their manufacturing practices to make needed medical equipment, she said.

Lee said companies that reach out may receive what looks like “a form letter” back from the Commerce Department, but officials are reviewing all offers of help and building a database of companies that can help out as the response to the coronavirus spread shifts to medical care providers.

“We are looking at every single one, and we are very, very grateful, that people are actually offering to help,” Lee said.

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