Pressure to create a coronavirus vaccine is increasing by the day, but for a safe vaccine to enter the market, it takes time.
The CEO of one New Mexico rural electric cooperative reached out to a spirits distillery in Kansas when he learned some New Mexican communities were struggling to acquire hand sanitizer.
Travis Sullivan, CEO of Southwestern Electric Cooperative in Clayton, asked advice of a relative who works in the medical field in Oklahoma days after the first COVID-19 coronavirus cases were reported in New Mexico in March.
“She does a lot of ordering for the nursing home where she’s at, so I gave her a call and asked if she had another resource out-of-state that could maybe help us out and she had me get a hold of Boot Hill Distillery,” he said.
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Sullivan said the Dodge City, Kansas distillery quit brewing whiskey. Now the distillery makes hand sanitizer.
“Unbeknownst to me at the time, Victory Electric Co-op, which is Boot Hill’s electric cooperative, they had the same issue over there,” he said of the lack of hand sanitizer in the Sunflower State.
After hearing the news, Sullivan contacted Boot Hill personnel, and negotiated the delivery of 5,000 four-ounce bottles of hand sanitizer from the factory.
“We started a relay with every co-op (which) borders one another and so we organized with the statewide organization New Mexico Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NMRECA) and the other managers and we just started tag-teaming (on) who could take what to their boundary to get to the next co-op,” he said.
Central Valley Electric (CVE) in Artesia was one of the recipients, according to CEO Chuck Pinson.
He said 250 gallons of hand sanitizer were delivered to the electric cooperatives in a large container.
“They distributed that 250 gallons to all the co-ops, really based on the number of employees each co-op had,” Pinson said.
He said CVE employs around 90 people.
“So, we got 22 gallons and the intent, first off was to make sure we had enough hand sanitizer within each one of the co-ops because we provide an essential service in terms of providing electricity,” he said.
Pinson said another mission for the electric cooperatives was to distribute hand sanitizer to emergency personnel and first responders within a service area.
“We took receipt of the 22 gallons, about a week and a half ago, we’re trying to chase down eight-ounce spritzer bottles,” he said.
Pinson said Leah Boone, a CVE member services supervisor, has secured 30 of the bottles.
“We’ve got some on order that should be here this week,” Boone said.
Pinson said getting hands on the bottles has been a hold up for CVE personnel.
“We have delivered a gallon of the sanitizer to the Good Life Memory Care Center here in Artesia,” he said.
Boone was working to get hand sanitizer to first responders in nearby Chaves County.
“It’s a really a joint effort among all the co-ops, our statewide organization and two generation and transmission (groups) Western Farmers Electric Cooperative and Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association,” Pinson said.
“This has been a concerted effort. It fits right in line with what we do, we just to help out and keep people safe.”
Mike Smith can be reached at 575-628-5546 or by email at MSmith@currentargus.com or @ArgusMichae on Twitter.
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