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Kentucky National Guard says influx of PPE donations crashes system, fix coming soon

Gov. Andy Beshear said people should donate equipment, especially gloves, to medical professionals on the front-lines.

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Governor Andy Beshear announced Thursday a way people can donate any personal protective equipment they may have to help the state's hospitals and medical centers fight against COVID-19. 

"What we need right now Kentucky, and I know there's a lot out there, is gloves," Beshear said. 

The Kentucky National Guard, who is running the donation operation, said they never expected how many calls would come in so quickly. 

"Before the number was hardly even put up on the screen, the phones started ringing. I think we had 25 phone calls within the first five or six minutes," Major Stephen Martin, Director of Public Affairs for the Kentucky National Guard, said.

Over the phone Thursday night, Major Martin said the influx of calls for PPE donations caused some callers to get an error message, and the system to crash. 

"Some folks that are calling in to donate PPE are getting an error message like 'this phone is out of service' and that's not true. The system is just being overwhelmed with calls," Martin said. "Which is a good thing to have, but unfortunate that we're not able to field all those calls at once."

Major Martin said calls that have already come in ranged from "Pikeville to Paducah," including all parts of the state. 

"Mainly gloves, but I think it was many different items and we're ready to help navigate that and to get the PPE into the right hands for where it needs to go," Martin said. 

"There are at least a million gloves in Kentucky that people can live without so that our healthcare professionals can have what they need," Beshear said. "We believe this will be the next area that there's going to be a big run in the United States. We need as many as those donations as we can."

When a person calls in, the KY National Guard will take information like name, number, and donation details to have on file. They will then refer the person to their county emergency management center or another designated person within their county where they can safely drop off the PPE. 

Martin said the line to donate is still active as they work out a way to manage the influx of calls. He said the phone line with likely be operated between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.

"We should have a solution in place as early as tomorrow morning to be able to receive all those phone calls," Martin said. 

They plan to provide updated information soon with any changes they make, like potential suggested call times. 

If you'd like to donate PPE, the number to call is (502) 607-6844.

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