Chester County Emergency Services Director Mike Murphy said the challenges of obtaining enough personal protective equipment (PPE) have been well-documented. But with the help of the Chester County Economic Development Council, they were able to secure millions of surgical and N95 masks for essential workers in the area.
The CCEDC acquired the masks through local business relationships in China.
Murphy said it was initially not only hard to find a supplier, but a trustworthy one.
“Unfortunately there’s a lot of misconceptions of quality and a lot of inflation of pricing, so you’re never quite sure what you’re going to get,” he noted.
Chester County government officials approached the CCEDC in March to help them get PPE. Michael Grigalonis, COO and Executive Vice President of the CCEDC, said the council reached out to their international business network in the region.
They received many offers to source the masks, but either the quality or quantity wasn’t adequate.
Fortunately, a county resident was able to secure the masks from a trusted source in China.
“He sent us samples immediately. We vetted those samples — we were happy with them. He was able obviously to deliver the quantity in a timely fashion,” Grigalonis said.
The county has received about 400,000 masks so far, and they’ve been able to help out neighboring Delaware and Berks counties, too.
“There were still a lot of unknowns,” Grigalonis continued. “The demand is incredible. This is a worldwide pandemic, so to actually see the deliveries begin to come in was very comforting to know we were able to succeed in what we said we could do.”