News

$7 million in surplus COVID supplies damaged after being left outside amid rain

San Mateo County hires outside investigator to determine how error happened

The San Mateo County Event Center, located in San Mateo, has served as a mass COVID-19 testing and vaccination site during the pandemic. Courtesy San Mateo County Event Center.

Roughly $7 million in surplus safety equipment and cleaning supplies at the San Mateo Event Center was damaged in recent months after being moved outside and remaining there during this winter's storms, San Mateo County officials said Friday.

The county bought the supplies -- including non-medical-grade medical gowns, face shields, goggles, bleach and mop buckets -- early in the COVID-19 pandemic amid global supply shortages, according to County Manager Mike Callagy.

As supply issues for hospital-grade equipment waned, so did the local need for the supplies, especially those that were not suited for medical use.

The supplies do not include the county's stock of medical-grade personal protective equipment like high-quality masks and gloves, which continue to be stored indoors in a separate facility.

"The county is solely responsible for our materials at the Event Center," Callagy said in a statement. "We deeply regret that this occurred and are hiring an external investigator to identify all facts related to the damage and make recommendations to avoid future incidents."

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The materials were moved outside to a fenced-in area in mid-September to accommodate an event at the venue. According to the county, the supplies should have been placed back inside after the event but remained outdoors.

The county also did not have indoor storage space available in another facility, according to Callagy.

The county has worked with the California Office of Emergency Services in previous months to offer the supplies to health care providers, schools and other states, but found few takers.

Callagy said the county plans to donate the supplies to a nonprofit organization once it inspects and cleans them. His statement did not state whether the county has decided on an organization that will receive the supplies.

The county also does not anticipate the damages will affect its ability to provide protective equipment to local health care facilities.

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$7 million in surplus COVID supplies damaged after being left outside amid rain

San Mateo County hires outside investigator to determine how error happened

by Eli Walsh / Bay City News Service

Uploaded: Sat, Jan 15, 2022, 9:33 am

Roughly $7 million in surplus safety equipment and cleaning supplies at the San Mateo Event Center was damaged in recent months after being moved outside and remaining there during this winter's storms, San Mateo County officials said Friday.

The county bought the supplies -- including non-medical-grade medical gowns, face shields, goggles, bleach and mop buckets -- early in the COVID-19 pandemic amid global supply shortages, according to County Manager Mike Callagy.

As supply issues for hospital-grade equipment waned, so did the local need for the supplies, especially those that were not suited for medical use.

The supplies do not include the county's stock of medical-grade personal protective equipment like high-quality masks and gloves, which continue to be stored indoors in a separate facility.

"The county is solely responsible for our materials at the Event Center," Callagy said in a statement. "We deeply regret that this occurred and are hiring an external investigator to identify all facts related to the damage and make recommendations to avoid future incidents."

The materials were moved outside to a fenced-in area in mid-September to accommodate an event at the venue. According to the county, the supplies should have been placed back inside after the event but remained outdoors.

The county also did not have indoor storage space available in another facility, according to Callagy.

The county has worked with the California Office of Emergency Services in previous months to offer the supplies to health care providers, schools and other states, but found few takers.

Callagy said the county plans to donate the supplies to a nonprofit organization once it inspects and cleans them. His statement did not state whether the county has decided on an organization that will receive the supplies.

The county also does not anticipate the damages will affect its ability to provide protective equipment to local health care facilities.

Comments

carol mayer Marshall
Registered user
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 17, 2022 at 1:57 pm
carol mayer Marshall, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
Registered user
on Jan 17, 2022 at 1:57 pm

This story makes me sick. If it had been their money that paid for these supplies, , this "error" would not have been made. So who is going to reimburse the taxpayers for this "error"? From the facts given to us in the article there is no excuse for leaving these supplies outside. They were certainly too big to have been overlooked. I am rather tired of having to pay for mistakes made by public employees.


menlo mom
Registered user
Menlo Park: University Heights
on Jan 17, 2022 at 3:00 pm
menlo mom, Menlo Park: University Heights
Registered user
on Jan 17, 2022 at 3:00 pm

My question is: how could seven MILLION dollars of ANYTHING purchased with tax dollars be so superfluous that no one noticed its absence? The other article I read about this mentioned that the county was not who discovered this error. A tip was given to one of the local TV stations, who ran an investigative story on it.


Anita
Registered user
Atherton: West Atherton
on Jan 17, 2022 at 6:17 pm
Anita, Atherton: West Atherton
Registered user
on Jan 17, 2022 at 6:17 pm

Thank you for shining light on this debacle.


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