BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer
Members of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors were quick to defend county employees yesterday when they heard an update on an investigation into $7.7 million of PPE being left in the rain.
However, one supervisor who is running for Congress, David Canpea, wanted more answers about the ruined personal protective equipment.
Canepa’s questions of County Manager Mike Callagy were shut down by Supervisor Don Horsley, who strongly defended the county’s handling of the matter.
“We did a remarkably good job (during the pandemic). Yeah, OK, we was panicking to get supplies and these made a mistake, we all learn from mistakes,” Horsley said during an update from Callagy about why the items were left out in the rain.
Horsley also said that people need to “take into context” that everyone was panicking to get supplies and those items that were left outside had been purchased because the county didn’t know what the future held.
In January, Channel 7 reported that boxes of gowns, cleaning supplies and face shields had been left outside the event center since September. Originally the value of the PPE was put at $10 million, but the county later reduced the amount to $7.7 million.
Supervisor Warren Slocum called Callagy a “true leader” for taking responsibility and beginning to look at “corrective actions” around this mistake. He also mentioned that people should “reserve judgment until we get the full analysis of what transpired.”
However, Canepa called the whole thing “disappointing.”
Canepa agreed that the county did the best it could in terms of handling the pandemic, but said the PPE being left out should have never happened.
He asked Callagy what he thinks happened.
Callagy responded that it seems that “other priorities came up.”
The county hired former Sequoia Union High School District Superindent James Lianides to investigate what led to the supplies being left out in the rain. He is being paid $150 an hour, and his contract runs until June 30.
Callagy said yesterday that Lianides was out of town on a preplanned vacation, but he expects the re- port to be done by the end of the month.
Once Lianides is done with his investigation, it will be released to the supervisors and the public, Callagy said.
Callagy said he is planning to jump-start the corrections the county needs to make to prevent this from happening again, and he’s hired a firm, Management Partners in San Jose, on planning how the county will handle large amounts of supplies in future emergencies.
Callagy said that of the $7.7 million of PPE that was left in the rain, only $128,152.82 was irreparably damaged and can’t be given away. He pointed out that’s 1.7% of the supplies left in the rain and 0.4% of the total supplies the county handled during the pandemic.
Full-body gowns that aren’t medical-grade were irrepairably damaged, he said. The county had bought them just in case medical supplies ran out and it needed to run a makeshift hospital.
Callagy said the county plans to donate the supplies that survived the rain. To assist with that, the county is getting help from a group called Wine County Marines. Some of the supplies have been donated to nonprofits that put shipping containers together to send to Tonga after the volcano eruption on the island in January.
By the end of the month, the supplies will be moved to warehouses, Callagy said.