Cheers, Tito’s! NJ gets sanitizer, supplies from Texas distillery
Here's something that the people of New Jersey can drink to.
Tito's Handmade Vodka this week sent the Garden State a shipment of much-needed medical supplies.
The delivery included 432 gallons of hand sanitizer, which the distillery based in Austin, Texas, began producing last week to help with the national response to the devastating coronavirus pandemic.
Tito's also sent New Jersey 3,000 masks and 2,000 pairs of gloves, which state officials will distribute to medical workers and first-responders.
New Jersey's government has collected about 10 million pieces of personal protective equipment and is in the process of getting 850 ventilators from the national stockpile.
Gov. Phil Murphy has said that New Jersey continues to have a shortage of personal protective equipment as well as medical personnel.
On Friday, officials said that nearly 29,900 residents had tested positive for COVID-19. Of those who have tested positive, more than 3,000 are currently hospitalized. Another 3,000 hospital patients are "under investigation" as possible COVID-19 cases. Ventilators were being used on 1,227 COVID-19 patients, as of Friday. A total of 1,600 ventilators out of an available supply of 2,400 ventilators are currently being used.
Murphy has said he is requesting another thousand ventilators from the federal government. The state also is repurposing anesthesia machines, collecting unused ventilators from ambulatory surgery centers and exploring the possibility of having multiple patients share a single ventilator in order to fill a projected gap of 6,000 machines.
Murphy said his administration has been reaching out to the federal government on a daily basis as well as the private sector and contacts in China, Taiwan and Germany.
"We are literally going around the world, not just around the state or country, in terms of trying to source personal protective equipment and ventilators in particular," he said Friday.
Another company that pulled through was Swiss investment bank UBS, which is providing New Jersey with 10,000 N95 masks, the kind needed by hospital workers.
While Tito's vodka cannot be used as a sanitizer or disinfectant because its alcohol content is too low, the distillery retooled to produce 24 tons of hand sanitizer in the coming weeks. The product will be provided to police officers, firefighters, EMTs, hospitals and long-term care facilities across the country.
The company is also donating $2 million to relief efforts.
New Jersey last month asked companies and institutions to provide the state with an inventory of personal protective equipment, ventilators, respirators, or anesthesia machines that are not being used. Murphy this week signed an executive order giving the State Police the authority to commandeer these supplies when needed.
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Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.