COVID-19 News

AFRL-led program connects thousands of New Mexicans with COVID-19 PPE

As many companies get back to on-site work, some are in need of personal protective equipment (PPE), and others have plenty on hand that they want to share. A COVID-19 collaborative led by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) has now distributed thousands of PPE supplies from the haves to the have-nots.

Gabe Mounce works for the AFRL as director of its Space Accelerator Program. When COVID-19 hit, he wanted to make sure people had personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies. It sparked the New Mexico COVID-19 Emergency Supply Collaborative, which also counts Sandia National Laboratories as a partner.

The project is bringing together dozens of organizations across the state and country, with everything from gloves and isolation gowns to face shields and N-95 masks. So far, Mounce says, about 17,000 pairs of gloves, 9,000 surgical masks, 20,000 isolation gowns, 390 N95 masks, 7,700 face shields, 4,000 3-D printed respirators, and 1,100 gallons of hand sanitizer have been supplied to more than 90 health care providers in the state, including hospitals, nursing homes, shelters and more. They’ve also made deliveries of supplies to Native communities like the field hospital in Gallup.

“I was trying to help some of our local healthcare systems get connected to some of the resources in town,” Mounce said. “I quickly got a bit overwhelmed trying to coordinate all of that and was thinking to myself, there’s got to be a better way to do this.”

As a result, in late April the team created a sort of ‘matchmaking’ website ( Organizations with supplies can send in their information, while places like doctor’s offices and hospitals looking for PPE can submit their needs. The website connects both sides. Mounce says they’ve also created a directory for New Mexicans who want to get in touch with supplies for personal needs.

“What are the needs people have, especially among healthcare workers, and what other places do we know about that can provide supply,” he said. “If you’re just genuinely concerned about how to source your own equipment, we’ve also created on our site a self-service directory of companies, many of them local.”

He says the site was originally inspired by a similar project in New York, and he is happy with how it’s going in New Mexico, even getting local elected officials involved. The local effort was first organized with the help of the AFRL and New Mexico Tech.

Mounce says the project has shown how generous people can be. He hopes the service is able to continue through the pandemic, tailored to whatever is needed most at the moment.

“It’s been tremendous to see all of the good will that has come because of this,” he said.

Organizations involved in the Collaborative include:

* Air Force Research Laboratory
* Congressman Ben Ray-Lujan’s staff
* Congresswoman Debra Haaland’s staff
* FUSE Maker Space
* New Mexico Business Coalition
* New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
* New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership
* New Mexico State University
* New Mexico Technology Council
* Northern New Mexico College
* Office of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham
* Protect NM
* Sandia National Laboratories
* Sen. Martin Heinrich’s staff
* Sen. Tom Udall’s staff
* SiviSoft
* UnityBPO
* University of New Mexico

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