For the past 14 months, Cobb County has been amassing a stockpile of COVID-19 supplies, emergency gear and personal protective equipment.

That stockpile could soon help supply local hospitals that have become overwhelmed by the latest surge in COVID cases caused by the Delta variant.

“If they run into a situation where they’re struggling to get protective equipment for their nurses or their doctors, we can help out,” Cobb County Public Safety Director Randy Crider told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution while giving a tour of the facility Monday.

Wellstar was treating 620 COVID patients at its 11 hospitals statewide Sunday, according to the hospital group’s daily update. Of those patients, 147 were admitted into intensive care and 92 were on ventilators.

Nearly 92% of the ICU beds were filled in the Georgia hospital region that includes Cobb County on Monday.

Kennestone Hospital in Marietta has requested ventilators from Cobb County’s stockpile along with help addressing low staffing levels

Cassie Mazloom, director of the county‘s Emergency Management Agency, oversees the cache of supplies. She said she’s sent Kennestone’s request for supplies to the Georgia Emergency Management Agency.

“It’s very critical,” she said. “We feel more confident that we have the things that are requested, and that we can fulfill those requests as they are needed.”

Last June, the Cobb County Board of Commissioners dedicated $2.4 million of the county’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES, funding to revamp a warehouse space near the county’s Fire Annex along Austell Road. Cobb Emergency Management used the federal dollars to construct a pole barn and vehicle port on the annex grounds last year. That’s where the county stores most of its six-month reserve of COVID supplies.

The list of PPE includes N-95 and 3-ply face masks, gowns, shoe covers, hand sanitizer, cleaning supplies, HVAC machines and respirators, according to Mazloom.

There are also supplies for a temporary emergency shelter, like cots and camping tents. That’s in case a natural disaster or other crisis that displaces residents strikes in the midst of the pandemic.

Cobb even stocked up on traffic cones to be used at testing and vaccination sites.

“We knew that it would be detrimental, basically, if we didn’t have these items,” Mazloom said. “We wanted to make sure that we have them on hand, stockpiled and ready to go.”

Crider helped develop the idea for the supply chest. He said it was meant to ensure there was always enough in stock for county employees and first responders in case another surge hit. Last year when the first wave of COVID hit, local governments struggled to get their hands on much needed PPE and other supplies.

“This is us looking at big picture,” Crider said “Not just the Cobb County employees, but for all of our six cities. That we would be prepared to provide the supplies that we need to continue the level of service that our citizens expect.”

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