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PPE request and distribution process

To limit the spread of COVID-19, the State of California distributes masks and PPE to healthcare workers and others on the front line. It’s the state’s priority to ensure the safety of these essential workers.

To date, the state has delivered tens of millions of masks and other pieces of life-saving PPE to counties.

See below for how to conserve PPE, and how frontline employers can order more for emergencies.

Preserving masks and PPE

If PPE is required as part of routine duties performed by essential workers:

If PPE is not required as part of routine duties performed by essential workers:

  • Reduce exposure by adding
    • Barrier controls like Plexiglass barriers, improved ventilation systems
    • Safe-work practices, such as adjusting business operations to increase physical space between employees.
  • Read CDC’s Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to COVID-19 for more ways to reduce exposure risk in the workplace.
  • Do not attempt to get medical or industrial use PPE for non-essential workers. Such PPE is likely unavailable and is required for higher priority functions. Surgical masks and N95 respirators are critical supplies reserved for healthcare workers.
  • Instead, follow CDC guidance on use of simple cloth face masks. CDC recommends wearing cloth masks wherever keeping distance is difficult (like control rooms or production floors). This applies especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.
  • If commercially-sourced cloth face masks are not available, they can be made from common materials at low cost. Follow CDC guidance on how to make and use cloth face masks.

Acquiring PPE during shortages

If you’ve used these strategies to reduce the need for PPE, but you still need to order more for your essential workers, you should:

  • Continue working with private sector suppliers to source PPE. You may need to find many suppliers and focus on near-term versus long-term needs.
  •  If suppliers can’t send PPE and your need is urgent, request it from your county’s emergency management or public health department.
  • If local emergency management can’t send PPE, they will contact the State Operations Center.
  • If the state can’t send PPE, it can contact the FEMA Regional Response Coordination Center.

The process for ordering masks and other supplies from the state works as follows:

Flow chart of the Face Covering Distribution Process from Cal OES
Face Covering Distribution Process

Employer level

The first priority of employers in essential sectors is to ensure that employees have the PPE needed to safely perform their duties. The employer has primary responsibility for the procurement and distribution of emergency PPE. When the employer can’t meet the demand for PPE, they should contact their county or operational area.

Local government/county level

The first priority of local government is to ensure the essential workers in their district have PPE to slow the spread of COVID-19. The local government handles buying and distributing emergency PPE in their area. When the local government can’t meet the demand for PPE, they should contact the regional emergency operations center.

Regional level

When the region can’t meet the demand for PPE, they will contact the State for help.

State level

Cal OES will provide support and PPE resources to field level operations. If more PPE is required than the State can supply, Cal OES may request it from FEMA, EMAC, public/private partnerships, or other sources.

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