Butler County sheriff, West Chester among those to fill masks need with China order

Capitalizing on West Chester Twp. Trustee Lee Wong’s connection with the Greater Cincinnati Chinese Chamber of Commerce the township now has a shipment of 1,500 face masks and 50 thermometers headed here from China.

The trustees approved the $17,500 purchase for the fire department Tuesday night and the shipment from Shanghai is due here on Friday. Fire Chief Rick Prinz said the masks will arrive just as the department runs out.

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“We have a four-day burn rate,” he said, adding that’s when the supply runs out. “We know in the weeks to come it’s just going to keep inclining so I anticipate it will get to the point where we will have to go to the EMA to get part of our stockpile on a daily basis, just to have enough masks get through the day”

The West Chester purchase was part of a larger order with UC Health so Township Administrator Larry Burks said they got a decent price.

“We didn’t have a lot of time to shop around,” Burks said. “There are some probably cheaper masks but you couldn’t find them, you can’t buy them, they’re just not available. We thought the price was fair considering the market at the time.”

Chamber Executive Director Leo Chan said he sent word out to Chamber members like Wong that they were working to get personal protective equipment. So far 150,000 masks have been ordered for entities in this area and the first shipment was expected Wednesday night.

“When the COVID 19 starts hitting the United States and the outbreak seems to start in this community, we tried to think and ask ourselves how can we best help the community,” Chan said. “Given everything that’s going on it seems most logical to help set up this supply chain for PPEs.”

The Butler County Sheriff’s Office ordered 5,000 masks through the Chamber but Chief Anthony Dwyer said he did not have the price available. He said they have been going through a host of vendors to find masks for their “emergency stockpile” and he now has enough for his staff and has been distributing to other entities in the county.

“We went through every resource we about can…” he said. “We have acquired enough masks to outfit my agency fairly in its entirety and some outside entities. We even gave masks to the Care Facility. They didn’t even have masks.”

Care Facility Administrator Chamika Poole said the nursing home had been using procedural masks instead of the recommended N95 masks that keep disease particles out. She said both the sheriff and the county Emergency Operations Center have supplied them.

“We had the masks, we just had the procedural masks like most people do right now,” Poole said. “Just because of the shortage it is hard to come by in general, so we are very blessed to have people looking out for us.”

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