Columbus, Ohio (May 18, 2020)—Governor Tom Wolf commended the ongoing and diligent work of PEMA and the PA National Guard in combating the COVID-19 pandemic in the commonwealth on Monday.
Wolf took some time out to note the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency’s role in strategizing and coordinating with numerous agencies to help Pennsylvanians make it through the onslaught of COVID-19 in the commonwealth, a mission that PEMA has been prioritizing since before a case was even confirmed in the state.
“This team, along with the Department of Health, has been monitoring the virus since January,” Wolf said. “Here at PEMA’s headquarters, the Department of Health’s operations center was established even before the virus was first detected in the United States. And PEMA’s commonwealth response coordination center stood up full operations just a few weeks later, supplementing planning and coordination efforts with staff from dozens of state and federal agencies and partners.”
Wolf said that PEMA is working with agencies in each county to handle local emergency plans, and working with the Pennsylvania National Guard in their missions, including food distribution to nursing homes and mass testing site establishment.
Pennsylvania National Guard Colonel Frank Montgomery said that his agency has over 1,200 members responding to the COVID-19 crisis addressing numerous issues as they arise, including transporting personal protective gear across the state, delivering food, setting up testing sites, and much more.
“The bottom line is, we live here, we train here, we serve here,” Montgomery said. “We’re proud to take care of our fellow citizens who are in need.”
One of those pivotal PEMA missions included acquiring a Battelle CCDS Critical Care Decontamination System for the commonwealth, allowing for the decontamination of center N95 masks up to 20 times. PEMA worked with their federal brethren at FEMA to get the system, the cost of which is covered by the Department of Health and Human Services.
“The Battelle System is a great way to increase the availability of clean N95 masks, and I encourage organizations to take advantage of it,” Wolf said. “It’s just one of many programs that PEMA has helped facilitate with little fanfare. PEMA is quietly effective. We know they’re doing a good job when we don’t hear much about them, and I can say that has been the case so far during this crisis.”
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