HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — During the pandemic, the state is housing $50 million worth of personal protective equipment at the Pa. Farm Show Complex. Lawmakers have criticized and local businesses have complained, and on Wednesday abc27 got a tour of the PPE stockpile.
Row upon row of cardboard. Palette upon palette of PPE.
A nuisance to some, but a miracle to Secretary Curt Topper, who remembers the dark days.
“A year ago, virtually all of our supply chains had broken down,” said Topper, who works for the Pa. Department of General Services. “We had no inventory and extraordinary demand and quite literally we had people dying.”
Lawmakers and local businesses are dying to get it out of the Farm Show Complex so events can move back in and money can flow once again. Topper agrees.
“It’s not designed to be a warehouse,” Topper said.
He says a warehouse site has been chosen. He won’t confirm where because the feds demand stockpile secrecy. The hold-up is the $5 million ask in the state budget.
Why hasn’t the Wolf Administration used some of the federal stimulus money and get moving?
“We do need within the state budget, within the agency’s budget, an ongoing appropriation that would support the stockpile in out years,” Topper said.
Republican lawmakers wanted a tour, but couldn’t get in last week and wondered what the administration was hiding.
“I’ll just say that showing up and peering through windows isn’t helpful.,” Topper said.
Representative Dan Moul (R-Adams) said PPE was incinerated. Topper said no, it wasn’t, but concedes expired medical supplies were.
Pa. was unprepared when the pandemic began. The goal, Topper says, is to always have 60 days worth of gloves, masks, gowns and sanitizer on hand.
“That’s exactly the lesson of the last year,” Topper said.
Secretary Topper said he’s as frustrated as anyone and wants to move all of this stuff out as quickly as possible.