$7M in PPE damaged after left in rain in California

Jan. 15 (UPI) -- A surplus of personal protective equipment worth $7 million was left outside last fall and damaged by rain before the damaged items were found this week, California officials said.

San Mateo County officials purchased the items early in the pandemic and stored them at the San Mateo Event Center.


The supplies, which included face shields and non-medical-grade gowns, had been moved outside to accommodate an event in mid-September, San Mateo County Manager Mike Callagy said in a statement. The supplies were forgotten outside and later damaged in a storm.

Callagy said the county is still sorting through the supplies, much of which was individually wrapped, to assess the magnitude of the loss. It was not immediately clear what event was held which required the equipment to be moved.

"The county is solely responsible for our materials at the event center," Callagy said in the statement. "We deeply regret that this occurred and are hiring an external investigator to identify all facts related to the damage and make recommendations to avoid future incidents."

He said that the supplies "should have been returned inside once the event was over" but that the county's stock of gloves and masks, such as N95 and KN95 respirators, were stored in a climate-controlled environment indoors and separate from the supplies damaged by the storms.


"We want to assure our community that this incident did not impact the county's ability to provide safety equipment to first responders and others responding to COVID-19," Callagy said.

The news was first revealed by the investigative team at KGO, which found thousands of boxes still soaking in the rain before being confronted by security guards at the event center.

Dana Stoehr, CEO of the non-profit that runs the event center, told the outlet that the supplies are "not going to waste" but were damaged, adding that they were "fully taken care of exactly the way it should have been."

Latest Headlines