SALT LAKE CITY — State employees move quickly to pack up boxes of gloves, gowns, face masks, sanitizer and other personal protective equipment.
They stack the boxes on pallets, which are wrapped up and loaded on to forklifts and then onto semi trucks. The state has converted a portion of the Salt Palace into a shipping warehouse for PPEs and other COVID-19 relief supplies. FOX 13 was taken on a tour of the facility on Friday.
"It’s a monumental effort in extraordinary times," aid Michael Glenn with Utah's Division of Purchasing, who has been tasked with overseeing the state's Receiving, Staging and Shipping Center."All of the state of Utah’s PPE needs, we’re getting it as it comes in and out, it comes through these doors."
It's a massive effort to get PPEs to hospitals, clinics and even small businesses statewide.
"It goes to the hospitals, health departments, counties, tribes, state agencies, special projects like the mobile testing sites that are around the state right now. Even the small business push that’s going on, we’re preparing that right now," said Glenn.
State employees, members of the Utah National Guard and volunteers are here to help out how they can.
"Our staff is working doing their regular jobs then coming here and helping out trying to do the best they can," said Cade Meier, the deputy director of Utah's Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, who was driving a forklift filled with hand sanitizer.
The DABC is tapping into its shipping network to get the PPEs to rural areas. The pallets from the Salt Palace warehouse are loaded onto shipments already containing alcohol bound for rural-area liquor stores. From there, rural clinic workers can pick it up -- from their local liquor store.
"They’re going to come right to our liquor stores, whether it’s a package agency or a store," said Meier.
Since mid-March, the state has shipped out four million pieces of PPE, including: 798,000 N95 masks; 578,000 surgical masks; 1.9 million gloves; and 281,000 face shields.
Glenn said the shipping warehouse will be in operation as long as necessary.
"When you look at it, it’s incredible how much goes into it," he said.