A type of medical face mask now in short supply for healthcare workers. Courtesy photo.

Chaffee County residents and businesses have a chance to demonstrate the nature of a caring community Friday and Monday. Chaffee County Health Department has initiated a collection effort for protective gear for hospital and other medical workers in the wake of substantial nationwide shortages due to the coronavirus pandemic known as COVID-19.

Chaffee County Public Health Director Andrea Carlstrom announced Wednesday that from 3-5 p.m., Friday, March 27, Chaffee County Public Health and Office of Emergency Management will be hosting a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Drive at 448 East 1st Street (Touber Building in Salida) to collect sealed boxes of unused gloves, gowns, and masks to be used for healthcare and essential staff who must work throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

Also,  from 2-4 p.m. Monday, March 30, there will be a PPE Drive at the Buena Vista Annex Building, 112 Linderman Avenue, collecting the same items.

People with PPE will be instructed to drop off their PPE and continue driving to model social distancing. For the Salida event, drivers are instructed to drive through the parking lot at the C Street entrance of the Touber Building.

Likewise, for the Buena Vista event, drivers are instructed to drive through the Linderman parking lot and drop their items off at the back door. There will be signage and staff to streamline the process. For questions, please contact Chaffee County Emergency Manager Richard Atkins, at 719-207-2730.

“We have heard that there are many groups throughout the county that might have PPE to spare, such as auto mechanics, hair and nail salons, dental providers, and construction companies,” said Carlstrom. “Due to the likely shortage of PPE that will be needed to respond to those who fall ill from COVID-19, we are asking for donations that will then be distributed to healthcare workers and those providing essential services throughout our county.”

Shortly after the March 21 COVID-19 drive-up testing at the Chaffee County Fairgrounds, Atkins said said that pre-planning for dealing with the impact of the virus was important. “I think Andrea at the Health Department did an excellent job in the county by being pro-active ahead of time, and putting out those public health orders to try to restrict our physical spacing…” added Atkins.