New bill would help supply California cities with PPE after COVID-19 pandemic

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno was one of 11 California cities where healthcare workers honked horns and rallied behind Senate Bill 275, which would require the state to build up a 90-day supply of PPE after we get through the current crisis.

When the coronavirus began its spread, masks and other protective equipments were often difficult to find.

"I've been taught always that you wear one mask with one patient," says Respiratory Therapist Michelle Guelci. "You take it off, you throw it away and you get a new mask for the next patient. When the pandemic came, that went out the window. Not just here at Kaiser, in every hospital."

Healthcare employers would also need to stockpile a 90-day. Twenty-five percent of the PPE would need to be produced in California.

State Senator Dr. Richard Pan, a Sacramento pediatrician, co-authored the bill.

"Our supply chains were broken and what that meant was healthcare workers put themselves and their families at risk, and also patients being put at risk," he said. "So we want to make sure we're better prepared for the next pandemic and next outbreak of contagious disease."

SEIU sponsors the bill. Several members carried signs outside Kaiser Permanente in northeast Fresno.

They say it is important to protect those on the front-lines. The gathering also honored those who have fallen ill or died from COVID-19 in California.

"We've had probably over 30,000 healthcare workers affected by COVID," says Occupational Medicine Worker Samantha Preziosi. "Out of that 30,000, there have been approximately 146 deaths, and that being two in Fresno."

In a statement to Action News, Kaiser Permanente said of today's rally, "We have the appropriate PPE to protect our teams today and have stabilized our supply chain for the potential of future surges in this pandemic."

The bill will go to the assembly floor before the end of the month.
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