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Knoxville officials asking for protective equipment donations for first responders and hospitals to meet future needs

Knoxville firefighters and police officers have respirators, masks and hand sanitizer but can still use more, according to city officials.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — As coronavirus spreads, officials have scrambled to find more personal protective equipment for first responders. 

Governor Bill Lee and other health officials announced that they ordered ventilators, protective gowns and other pieces of PPE over the past week.

Monday, Knoxville officials said the city's police and fire departments had adequate equipment on-hand to protect first responders as they went out on calls, but more supplies will be needed in the coming weeks as the number of COVID-19 cases continue to climb, according to a press release. 

The city put out the call for businesses, community organizations and families that currently have professional grade personal protective equipment such as N95 respirators, surgical masks, non-latex gloves, hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes and other supplies to donate it to help hospitals and first responders.

The city said it and other volunteers will be staffing a drop-off point at the Jacob Building in Chilhowee Park from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, April 3 and from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 4. A tent will be set up to accomodate curbside drop-offs. 

The donation point will continue to operate on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays throughout April. Donors are asked to place items on tables to maintain social distancing during the process.

Other commercial-grade medical supplies being collected include gowns, face shields, goggles, thermometers and Tyvek suits. The city said it will not be collecting non-PPE items, such as water, food or clothing.

The city said it also ordered more supplies to prepare for an increased demand for PPE, saying more than 1,500 respirators have been ordered and could arrive at any time. 

"Knoxville joins other cities and counties nationwide as we’re all bracing for the worsening pandemic and the strain on resources for our care providers and emergency personnel,” Kincannon said. “Preparation now is critical. I ask anyone who can to help those who are helping others by donating PPE."

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Officials said they support a request from the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency for the public to donate supplies. They are asking people to drop off approved PPE at the National Guard Armory on Sutherland Avenue.

City officials said that local needs and the community’s response are rapidly changing, and people can stay updated on the spread of coronavirus online.

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