Pennsylvania has PPE stockpiled at Farm Show, but why? For how long?

Coronavirus in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex in Harrisburg typically hosts 80 events a year with cars, boats, RVs and animals. It also boasts a million square feet under one roof. But with the pandemic, it has basically become storage for PPE — lots of PPE — which has lots of abc27 viewers asking why?

Conservative radio host Wendy Bell recently had an anonymous whistleblower on the air who said he works at the State Farm Show Complex.

He questions a huge stockpile of PPE at the Complex. An abc27 source sent a photo from last March showing rows upon rows of boxes. Comparatively, photos from August show PPE stockpiles in the facility.

PPE Stockpile in Pa. Farm Show Complex

“It’s just been sitting there. We’re just accumulating it,” Bell said.

With no events at the Farm Show, the whistleblower joked that state employees have been babysitting boxes for a year.

“This isn’t a Democrat or Republican thing. This is a Pennsylvania thing and as taxpayers we deserve answers,” Bell said.

The Governor’s spokeswoman said the state has strategically built up its supplies but has also pushed millions of items out to healthcare facilities in need. She added it’s important to “keep our stockpile filled to prepare for a future surge, for future COVID-19 vaccination efforts, or even a future public health emergency.”

Nursing homes and hospitals complained early in the pandemic about a lack of PPE. Several advocates abc27 spoke with are now complaining about the price. Should the state be dipping into its supplies to help?

PPE Stockpile in Pa. Farm Show Complex

“Since March the administration has fulfilled every legitimate needs requests submitted and there are no unmet needs requests at this time,” Gov. Wolf’s spokeswoman said.

She added state expenses to buy and store it is reimbursed by FEMA. She estimates the stockpile is worth $51 million. Bell wonders where these boxes go, and when?

“A long-term plan for a sustainable PPE stockpile is under development, and one of the key factors will be funding that will allow the commonwealth to secure a warehouse for this future PPE stockpile. Once funding is secured (which will likely be both state and federal funding), a warehouse facility can be secured and the assets moved,” Gov. Wolf’s spokeswoman said.

The statement continued, “There are approximately 50 current staff, including 24-hour security guards who protect the property, regardless of whether large events are going on.” A full statement from the Wolf Administration can be seen below.

“What’s the plan and why aren’t we as Pennsylvania taxpayers ever informed of the plan?” Bell asked.

Sources tell abc27 that as long as the PPE is sitting in the Farm Show, the Complex will not be hosting events for rent-paying customers.

Since March 2020 the commonwealth has fulfilled every legitimate needs’ request submitted for PPE and there are no unmet needs requests at this time. We have pushed out close to 6.3 million N95 masks, more than 1.2 million gowns, more than 3.5 procedure masks, close to 16.7 million gloves, more than 1.5 million face shields, and close to 1.4 million bottles of hand sanitizer.  These allocations and the current stock of PPE at the Farm Show total approximately  $51 million worth of purchased PPE. Any supplies purchased with state funds are reimbursable through FEMA. The PPE is part of preparation for this pandemic and any future needs associated with it or other emergencies.

Most recently, the commonwealth storage area has managed the receipt and redistribution of several million masks for the educational sector, where we worked with PDE and the Intermediate Units to provide these masks to schools. And PPE is currently being shipped out as needed to support vaccination sites across the state.

Costs to purchase PPE are high and as we use FEMA funds to purchase, we follow that agency’s guidance on the distribution of PPE, including the requirement to demonstrate need such as availability of a vendor to meet the necessary delivery date for an order or inability to provide enough PPE for a site outbreak. Again, the commonwealth has fulfilled every legitimate needs’ request submitted and there are no unmet needs requests at this time.

A long-term plan for a sustainable PPE stockpile is under development, and one of the key factors will be funding that will allow the commonwealth to secure a warehouse for this future PPE stockpile. Once funding is secured (which will likely be both state and federal funding), a warehouse facility can be secured and the assets moved.

There are approximately 50 current staff, including 24-hour security guards who protect the property, regardless of whether large events are going on.

A full statement from Governor Wolf’s spokespeople

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

Don't Miss