Pandemic demand for disposable gloves means $ 400 million in DOD contracts

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Army Staff Sgt. Kayla Sampson dons a medical glove during training at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, July 30, 2020 (Sydney Mariette / US Army)

The Defense Department is spending millions to keep its healthcare professionals stocked with disposable gloves during the coronavirus pandemic, according to recent contract awards.

The demand for medical gloves meant more than $ 400 million in contracts for five companies, paid for as part of a second coronavirus relief program passed by Congress in December.

For example, the DOD this year awarded a multinational company based in the Netherlands, Showa Group Inc., more than 81 million dollars in two orders to produce nitrile gloves for the Air Force until 2024. Showa produces gloves at US facilities in Alabama and Georgia.

In June, the DOD ordered gloves for $ 37 million from Showa Best Gloves of Fayette, Ala. on the official defense.gov website.

The Robins Air Force Base, Ga., DOD Assisted Acquisition Cell, which ordered the Showa gloves in September, did not respond to requests for additional information submitted through its website on September 23.

Nitrile gloves, commonly used by first responders and medical specialists during the COVID-19 pandemic, are made of a non-allergenic synthetic rubber compound. According to the Showa Best Gloves website, its nitrile gloves will be fully biodegraded in landfills within five years.

The largest contract, worth $ 123.1 million, went to Blue Star NBR LLC of Berlin, Conn, in May. The second largest contract, worth $ 96.1 million, went to United Safety Technology Inc., of Los Angeles, founded in April 2020 for “re-shoring EPI [personal protective equipment] manufacturing in the United States, ”according to the company’s website.

On May 28, another contract worth $ 35 million was awarded to Renco Corp./ America Performance Polymers of Texas and New Hampshire, according to defense.gov.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, in a May 28 press release, said the contract was worth $ 13.1 million for the company’s part of polymers in her state. The contract paid manufacturers to ramp up production of “lifesaving supplies and make sure we’re prepared in the event of a disaster,” according to its statement.

“Throughout this pandemic, we have seen how important it is to ensure that our health care workers, first responders and essential employees have access to the personal protective equipment they need to stay safe at home. work, ”according to Shaheen’s statement.

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