PPE - Frequently asked questions

Providing PPE

I have a large supply of PPE on the state’s most-needed list that I’d be willing to sell the state? Who can I contact?

Visit our how you can help page for more details.

Can my interest group or community organization begin sewing face masks or gowns or do something else to help?

Yes. Work with your local emergency management agency or nearest health care facility to determine what is needed – both the production specifications and types of PPE needed. Applying your volunteer resources to needs in your local community helps reduce distribution delays and transport costs.

The state is focusing on bulk donations for PPE. How can I donate smaller amounts of PPE?

To donate small quantities of items, or other items, contact your local emergency management agency.

I want to make a bulk donation of PPE on the state’s most-needed list. Who can I contact?

Visit our Personal Protective Equipment page for more details.

What PPE and infection control supplies are you seeking?

Check out the most needed items list.

Usage of PPE

Can health care providers use homemade fabric or cloth masks if other preferred types (N-95, surgical masks) are unavailable?

Yes, as a last resort. While PPE is in short supply, we recommend that health care providers follow CDC strategies to optimize their supplies. The CDC has additional recommendations for health care providers if preferred mask types are unavailable.

How much PPE is needed to treat a COVID-19 patient?

It depends on several factors, including the facility and infection control systems in place such as special ventilation systems. As an example for three PPE items – gowns, N95 respirators and face masks -- what is generally needed to treat one patient for one day may range from:

  • Gowns: 6-12
  • N95 respirators: 1-5 
  • Face masks: 0-18

What is PPE and why does it matter?

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is vital for our health care workers and first responders. PPE is the main source of protection against illness when tending to patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 infection.

State Response

Is the state experiencing price gouging/scams?

Information on vendors who attempt to misrepresent products or mark them up excessively is referred to the Attorney General’s Office. The state also has strong fraud protection measures in place through financial institutions.

How is the state prioritizing response to vendors who have PPE to sell?

Submissions that are best-qualified when considering purchasing criteria are considered are highest priority for response.  

Which agencies are involved in the PPE effort?

Multiple agencies are coordinating with the state Emergency Operations Center to bring needed PPE into the state.

Department of Commerce works with manufacturers willing to switch gears and produce needed items.

Enterprise Services works to find and purchase needed items.

Enterprise Services works to find and process bulk donations.

The departments of Health and Enterprise Services work to bring in items from federal programs.

Department of Health uses data to determine PPE allocations.

Enterprise Services delivers PPE to local communities.

Who sets the specifications for PPE items the state is seeking?

The Department of Health identifies the specifications PPE must meet to keep our front-line responders and health care workers safe.  

What is Washington doing to address the need?

The state is pursuing every available option to overcome this challenge, including seeking bulk donations of PPE, working outside of regular contracts and suppliers to purchase PPE, working with manufacturers willing to switch gears and produce needed items, making requests of federal sources, and working with health care providers to implement PPE conservation measures. We are also encouraging people to work with their local Emergency Management Divisions on donations.

In addition, global-researcher Battelle has delivered to Camp Murray one of its Critical Care Decontamination Systems (CCDS). The unit can now accept N-95 masks from health care providers and facilities, as well as first responders, with supporting systems being refined. This technology is designed to reduce the number of N95 masks the state will need to procure.  Camp Murray is just the third location across the nation to have received this emerging technology. Health care providers, first responder organizations and government agencies that are interested may contact Battelle for information on CCDS.

What are the criteria considered when allocating PPE to fill requests from local jurisdictions and tribes?

Information on how the Department of Health prioritizes PPE allocation is available on the DOH website.