The County of Los Angeles announced Thursday that it has distributed 23 million units of free PPE through its joint effort with PPE Unite to protect 433,000 employees at small businesses across the County. Launched on October 28, 2020, PPE Unite is a regional distribution effort providing free 30-day supplies of PPE to small businesses, nonprofits, and social enterprises with 100 employees or less.
To date, PPE Unite has served over 30,000 small businesses and nonprofits, distributing 21.5 million masks, over 400,000 face shields, and over 1 million bottles of hand sanitizer. Over 61% of PPE Unite recipients in L.A. County were minority-owned and 42% were women-owned. PPE Unite has saved these small businesses and organizations an estimated $5.6 million in public health compliance costs. Pop-up PPE Unite distribution events have been strategically targeted to hard-to-reach, COVID-impacted communities across the County. Businesses and nonprofits can still register for a free supply at https://www.ppeunite.org/.
“During the peak of the crisis, Los Angeles County stepped in through a motion that I authored to ensure that our small businesses received essential PPE for their workers that safeguarded the health of workers and residents alike,” shared Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Chair, Hilda L. Solis, Supervisor to the First District. “Thanks to these efforts, the County has continued to safely re-open throughout the course of the pandemic and PPE continues to serve as a pivotal tool in protecting the health of our residents.”
“For over a year our small business community has had to quickly adapt to safety guidelines in order to keep their doors open,” said Supervisor Holly J. Mitchell. “I am proud of the County’s unprecedented effort to provide free PPE to small businesses with 100 employees or fewer. At a time when the cost of doing business has increased while revenue has decreased, this PPE has provided a vital lifeline to keep our workforce and communities safe.”
“As the pandemic raged last fall, L.A. County really cranked up its PPE distribution to local small businesses,” said Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. “More than 21 million masks, 400,000 face shields, and 1 million bottles of hand sanitizer were given out. It was a terribly difficult time, but this massive County PPE distribution effort helped make the point that, even though times were tougher, we had to stretch even further and put in the work to get through this pandemic together.”
“At the height of this crisis it was difficult for many small businesses to access reliable supplies of PPE, let alone afford the extra costs,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn. “It was important that the County do everything we could to get these lifesaving supplies to businesses that needed them to protect both their workers and their community.”
“Our small businesses have faced so many challenges in this past year, and I’m pleased that L.A. County has been able to partner with PPE Unite to help them provide protective equipment to their customers and staff,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger, whose 5th district includes the Santa Clarita Valley.
“Due to the leadership of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, PPE Unite is one of the largest efforts of its kind in the country,” said Otto Solórzano, Acting Director of the L.A. County Department of Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services, also known as WDACS. “I am proud of the WDACS team for providing small businesses with life-saving PPE so that their employees and customers could remain safer while reopening.”
“We started PPE Unite to help employers do their part in flattening the curve and make workplaces safer,” said Tova Mac and Jay Tsao, founders of PPE Unite. “The positive impact on occupational health and overwhelming community response demonstrates how instrumental our effort is to a sustainable re-opening.”
The top demographic groups served by PPE Unite have been Asian and Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latinx, African American/Black, and White. The top industries served by PPE Unite have been Health Care & Social Assistance, Restaurants & Hospitality, Personal Care Services, and Educational Services.
“As a startup, PPE Unite saved us a lot of overhead costs at a time when we needed to save money,” said Dr. Franklin Westhout, physician and owner of San Pedro Urgent Care, a black-owned business.
“It was a blessing to receive PPE,” said Sachin Sangani, Administrator of the Wonderland Preschool, a minority and women-owned business in Bellflower. “Because of PPE Unite, we kept our teachers and staff safe so we could care for and teach our young students during this pandemic.”
“We were very desperate to get PPE to protect our staff and customers,” said Levita H. Maghirang, Facilities Administrator of Jasmine’s Home Care, an Asian and woman-owned business in Whittier. “Before PPE Unite, we had to drive many miles to purchase it. But things got easier when PPE Unite came to Whittier – thank you PPE Unite!”
PPE Unite is a public-private partnership that includes L.A. County WDACS, L.A. County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs (DCBA), L.A. County Office of Emergency Management (OEM), L.A. County Internal Services Department (ISD), the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES), the State Office of the Small Business Advocate (CalOSBA), the Vermont Slauson Economic Development Corporation (VSEDC) and the L.A. Small Business Development Center. This program is a result of a June 9, 2020 L.A. County Board motion to ensure that the County’s small businesses have access to PPE to keep employees and customers healthy and safe.
Small businesses and nonprofits can still receive a free 30-day supply of PPE by signing up at https://www.ppeunite.org/.