Pa. House hearing seeks answers on Farm Show PPE stockpile

Coronavirus

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Pennsylvania is sitting on $51 million worth of PPE, currently sitting in the state Farm Show Complex. It’s stopping the facility from hosting events and making money. On Wednesday, a state House hearing had questions about it.

When the pandemic started, the state began stockpiling PPE at the Pa. Farm Show Complex.

“It’s centrally located in the state. We can move commodities out of there in a very short period of time,” PEMA Director Randy Padfield said.

The state is still accumulating the equipment and needs a little more or a 60-day supply, which the feds are paying for.

“Is the Farm Show Complex in a flood zone?” Rep. Clint Owlett (R-Bradford, Potter, Tioga) asked.

The answer is yes, it is. All that PPE in one place, on dirt floors, susceptible to fire was questioned.

“I’m a farm boy from Tioga County and I’m thinking we put it in a flood zone, we didn’t increase protection from rodents, we had doors wide open, we could have people walking in. Seems like it’s problematic to me,” Owlett said.

Democrat Margo Davidson didn’t like that the state’s masters of disasters were challenged.

“It’s incredible to me that you’re being questioned today by quote-unquote farm boys and other people who admittedly don’t have experience in these areas,” Rep. Davidson (D-Delaware) said.

abc27 is told events could be booked, generating millions, but aren’t because of that PPE.

“Why the Farm Show continues a year later to be nothing more than a warehousing site where we’re robbing central Pennsylvania of the use of a really unique facility,” Rep. Paul Schemel (R-Franklin) said.

“We’re not a year beyond the pandemic. We are still in the pandemic,” said Secretary Curt Topper, Department of General Services.

DGS requested $6 million in the budget to pay for a new facility to house PPE. Dan Moul asked about dairy and livestock shows scheduled for September and October 2021.

“Should we plan to have them?” Rep. Dan Moul (R-Adams) asked.

“The answer is I don’t know,” Topper said.

Topper knows his decisions are being questioned, calls it Monday morning quarterbacking, but makes this concession.

“I think we were all caught a little flat footed at first at every level of the government,” Topper said.

Officials say most PPE has a shelf life of five years and they plan to rotate it.

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