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Utah News

Gov. Herbert Says PPE Stockpile Will Be Important Part Of Future Pandemic Preparedness Plans

Blue and white face masks
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According to an audit from the state auditor’s office released earlier this week, Utah was insufficiently prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic and that the chain of command was unclear as the emergency unfolded. 

Gov. Gary Herbert spoke to this audit in a press conference on Thursday.

“‘Everything we do before a pandemic will feel alarmist,’” Herbert said, quoting former Gov. Mike Leavitt during the press conference. “‘Everything we do during a pandemic will feel inadequate.’ And that kind of sums up you know, the audit. We didn't do enough beforehand and now we have people wondering if we're reacting overreacting. And the truth is probably somewhere in the middle of all this stuff.”

 

Herbert acknowledged that Utah officials did not adequately anticipate the threat of a pandemic and when the disaster did occur, there wasn’t a clear chain of communication and command. 

 

“There was some failure of communication between agencies and individuals,” Herbert said. “So communication was a problem. You can understand the fog of war at that time. But also everybody was working in good faith and trying to find solutions in a very difficult and challenging and really unprecedented time.”

When it comes to preparedness, lack of personal protective equipment stockpile is one issue Herbert said needs to be addressed for the future. 

 

“That's a $25 to $50 million requirement and a shelf life of two to three years,” he said. “So how do you do that is something we need to take a hard look at. Because the need to have it available is certainly true. But how we do it is a little bit more of a challenge.”

 

This is an issue Herbert said state leadership will be working to address in collaboration with hospitals and health care officials in the state.

 

He also encouraged Utahns to personally prepare by adding things like masks to their 72-hour kits.