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‘Another layer of defense’: Speaker Pro Tem donates PPE throughout Missouri


JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — House Speaker Pro Tem John Wiemann has partnered with members of the Missouri State Defense Force to secure personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers

Wiemann coordinated with Rep. Adam Schnelting and Col. Art Bottorff, both members of the Missouri State Defense Force, to provide 3,000 medical-grade face shields to health care workers fighting the spread of COVID-19 earlier this month. The equipment has been donated through a partnership with GetMePPENational, its Chicago affiliate Boston Scientific, and the Purdue University Parents Association. The PPE is manufactured by Boston Scientific and is FDA and CDC approved. 

The equipment was warehoused in Indiana, according to Wiemann. The group worked alongside the Missouri Hospital Association to secure the equipment and ensured it could be distributed to medical workers across the state. 

“The biggest battle is getting this equipment in the first place since the demand is outstripping the supply, and trying to get good quality PPE that are CDC-compliant has been difficult,” Weimann told The Missouri Times. “So I put Col. Bottorff in touch with the Missouri Hospital Association along with SEMA, and we were able to work out the logistics of getting those face shields delivered. It was nice to connect the dots and get those distributed throughout the state.”   

Weimann, whose background is in the medical industry, elaborated on the use of the masks. He said the masks are sturdy enough for all-day use and provide an extra layer of protection for medical professionals in addition to face masks, covering the eyes and face from any residue one might encounter at work. 

“It’s another layer of defense to keep them from being infected with the diseases they are working with, such as COVID-19,” he said.

The Missouri State Defence Force was a state military reserve force operating parallel to the Missouri National Guard. Rep. Bill Kidd was also a member. The reserve force of around 100 volunteers was decommissioned due to budgetary concerns the day of the first positive COVID-19 case in Missouri but received additional funding from the legislature during the final week of session.  

“Identifying and deploying critical supplies to help keep Missourians safe was a critical part of our mission at the Missouri State Defense Force,” Col. Bottorff said in a statement. “The State Defense Force was an organization that our state could utilize during crises like these and this delivery again proves its effectiveness and value to our state. These face shields will be sent to Missouri health care workers most in need of PPE. I was pleased to hear the legislature restored funding for the Force this week, and I hope Governor [Mike] Parson will see the great value of reactivating the State Defense Force.”

The PPE donation was distributed by the Missouri Hospital Association and the State Emergency Management Agency. The face shields typically retail at a price of $30, according to Col. Bottorff. Weimann also noted that a number of members of the legislature had been doing their parts to provide PPE and other relief to their own districts.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For up-to-date information on coronavirus, check with the CDC and DHSS.