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CALS research labs gather surplus PPE for frontline health care workers

Stacks of personal protective equipment from CALS labs and units are shown, prepared for transport to local hospitals. Left and right images are donations from the Microbial Sciences Building. Center image shows a stack at Nutritional Sciences. Submitted photos.

As the COVID-19 pandemic drains Wisconsin hospitals and health care facilities of their personal protective equipment (PPE) stockpiles, research units in UW–Madison’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences pitched in to help replenish those supplies in a time of dire need.

On Thursday, March 19, Bill Barker, CALS associate dean for research and graduate programs, issued an urgent request to all college departments requesting the immediate collection and donation of “anything in excess of what is needed to safely maintain current essential departmental research functions.”

Within 24 hours more than 17 CALS departments, centers and research stations rose to the occasion, gathering N-100 masks, N-95 masks, dust masks, face masks, safety glasses and goggles, nitrile gloves, surgical gowns, Tyvek suits, and disposable coveralls and lab coats. The supplies were sent to the university’s Emergency Operations Center for distribution to health care facilities in need.

“That this happened so quickly under the current circumstances shows our dedication to protecting and supporting our fellow community members who are providing patient care in these very difficult times,” said Nick Genovese, safety coordinator for the college. “We are proud of, and grateful to everyone at CALS who dropped everything at a moment’s notice to help the doctors, nurses and other staff who are placing themselves at great risk in their mission to save lives.”

Participating CALS departments, centers and ARS units included:

  • Agronomy
  • Animal sciences
  • Arlington Agricultural Research Station
  • Bacteriology
  • Biochemistry
  • Biological Systems Engineering
  • Center for Dairy Research
  • Entomology
  • Food Science
  • Genetics
  • Horticulture
  • Nutritional Sciences
  • Peninsular Agricultural Research Station
  • Plant Pathology
  • Soil Science
  • Walnut Street Greenhouses
  • West Madison Agricultural Research Station
  • Wisconsin Crop Innovation Center