Without additional stores of personal protective equipment, Denver’s efforts to quell the spread of the new coronavirus will come to a “screeching halt,” Mayor Michael Hancock said during a Monday morning news conference.
The gear — also known as PPE — includes face masks to protect against contagions like the virus, which causes the respiratory illness COVID-19. It’s needed in hospitals, in housing programs and for first responders.
“As we set up these new centers or opportunities to house people experiencing homelessness and volunteers and staff are there to help, they need PPE to be able to fully volunteer to protect themselves as well as to protect those who are coming through the doors,” Hancock said.
The shortage is so critical that services could be halted as soon as the next few days if supplies don’t come through from the state and federal governments, Hancock said.
Representatives of the city’s joint information center, which has been set up to handle coronavirus-related inquiries, were not immediately available to elaborate. Colorado Gov. Jared Polis’ office also could not be reached for comment.
As for other equipment like hospital beds and ventilators, Public Health Director Bob McDonald said city officials are working to ensure hospitals aren’t overwhelmed. At the moment, ventilators are available at Denver Health and staff is prepared to ask for more, he said.
Still, it’s unclear just how many cases of the coronavirus could pop up in Denver, McDonald said.
“Everything we’re doing is to stem that tide. What I can tell you is that we have 22 presumptive cases. Are there more than that? Likely more than that,” McDonald said. “But we’re tracking the available data and doing everything we can to make sure the spread is limited.”