The purchase, authorized by Houston City Council on April 22, will help protect Houston’s first responders, many of whom have been required to quarantine themselvesdue to exposure to the coronavirus.
With such gear in short supply across the country, the city of Houston and other municipalities now seek them from private producers in addition to those provided through the state and federal government, Mayor Sylvester Turner told reporters at a March press conference. At that point, the city had just lost out on a bid for N95 face masks, priced at $4 each when prior to the coronavirus pandemic, they cost less than $1 each, he said.
“It becomes a bidding war on the private marketplace,” he told reporters March 26.
Turner said April 3 that for a city of Houston’s size, a supply of a million N95 masks would be a sufficient stockpile. As an example, he said, the fire department uses up to 10,000 pieces of protective equipment per day responding to calls.
Shortly after, the city hosted a supply drive April 9 for first responders, asking residents to donate any extra protective gear they may for use in certain businesses or hobbies.
“As I look at these purchases, the price seems to be a bouncing ball," Council Member David Robinson said of the varying prices between suppliers.
Robinson, along with the rest of City Council, voted in favor of the purchases.