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Nassau to provide 1,000 PPE kits to small businesses

Nassau County police lead a donation drive to

Nassau County police lead a donation drive to collect medical equipment such as N95 surgical masks, nitrile gloves, Tyvek suits and antibacterial and disinfecting wipes to battle the coronavirus pandemic at Eisenhower Park on March 24. Credit: Getty Images/Al Bello

Nassau County will spend $500,000 to supply small businesses with personal protective equipment kits for employees and customers as businesses ramp up efforts to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic.

The county will provide kits to 1,000 businesses in an initial pilot program, expected to begin the week of June 8. The kits will include: A contactless infrared digital thermometer, to scan employees and customers; five face shields for employees; 400 three-ply masks; 100 pairs of powder-free, vinyl gloves; two gallons of hand sanitizer with a spray pump; and a canister of 1,800 sanitizing wipes.

Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said Thursday she has heard that businesses are struggling to procure enough PPE to reopen.

"A lot of business owners are not opening because they're concerned that they don't have the proper PPE," Curran said in an interview. "They don't want to take any chance with their employees or their customers or themselves."

The funding is comprised of $400,000 in aid from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and $100,000 from the county's Local Economic Assistance Corp., an arm of the Nassau Industrial Development Agency that helps nonprofits.

Richard Kessel, IDA chairman, said the priority is to distribute equipment to businesses with fewer than 20 employees that are owned by minorities and women and located in economically distressed neighborhoods.

The PPE kits will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Applications can be made online, beginning next week, at www.boostnassau.net.

Also this week, the State Legislature passed a bill to help local industrial development agencies provide $10,000 grants to small businesses and nonprofits to purchase protective gear including masks and plexiglass barriers. 

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State Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach) said small businesses "need these PPE startup costs paid for, and this change in the law will provide a stable mechanism going forward to allow the county to give them a helping hand."

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