The Regional Response Team conducts primary research to inform coordinated approaches to addressing the needs of the most vulnerable in the current pandemic.  Information about this research can be found below.

June 2020 – Personal Protective Equipment Assessment
March 2020 – Critical Needs Assessment

June 2020 – Personal Protective Equipment Assessment

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is critical to navigating the COVID-19 pandemic as safely as possible. However, the region has been experiencing shortages of PPE. Anecdotally, the Regional Response Team (RRT) heard that some frontline social service providers had been particularly under-resourced. Simultaneously, we have seen resources emerge to help address these shortages. The RRT PPE strike team was tasked with determining an equitable way of allocating PPE to frontline organizations based on their unmet needs. The RRT developed and applied a prioritization schema to address any PPE needs of frontline organizations.


The purpose of the survey was to understand current use, need, and access to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) across the social service sector in the St. Louis region.

The data collected in the survey is being used to inform COVID-19 Regional Response Team (RRT) fundraising efforts, coordinated PPE purchasing, and equitable PPE allocation to those organizations with higher risk of viral transmission and low access to PPE. Higher risk organizations predominantly serve vulnerable populations in priority ZIP codes disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

Survey data has been used to connect PPE providers with organizations in need, and has been shared with county health departments.


The survey was designed by Dr. Karishma Furtado and Cristina Garmendia, with feedback from RRT PPE Strike Team members. It was hosted on the SurveyMonkey platform and was open from May8 to May 27 of 2020. Invitations to complete the survey were shared throughout the RRT network and by the United Way of Greater St. Louis and the St. Louis Community Foundation, with particular focus on reaching organizations in the areas of childcare and food insecurity. There was no direct benefit to anorganization for taking the survey (e.g. distribution of PPE).


There were 343 unique survey responses used by the RRT for PPE prioritization. Duplicate responses by an organization and mostly incomplete surveys were removed from analysis.

The survey reached organizations that served populations in the City of St. Louis, St. Louis County, St. Charles County, St. Clair County, and Madison County. The racial and ethnic make-up of populations served by survey respondents is shown in the table below

About what percent of the people you serve are Black, Latinx, or Native American?
 Count of OrganizationsPercent of All Organizations
Less than 25%6720%
More than 75%12436%

Caveat: The survey was neither a complete census nor a random sample of organizations. It was voluntary. The results present the most complete pictures of PPE use and needs of social service organizations to date.


PPE Current Use by Organizations

  • Gloves and cloth masks are the most common forms of PPE in current use by organizations to protect front-line workers.
  • Just over 50% of organizations are currently using surgical masks, while 25% of organizations report using N95 masks.

PPE Needs of Organizations

  • Gloves are the most commonly needed form of PPE to protect front-line workers (61% of organizations).
  • More organizations would use eye protection, gowns, N95 masks, and face shields in the course of their operations to protect front-line workers than currently have access.
  • A commonly requested PPE need in the “other” category included hand sanitizer and disinfectant.

PPE Rationing

  • 198 organizations report rationing PPE, or 60% of respondents.
  • Of those organizations rationing PPE…
    • 60% are reusing PPE
    • 49% are having front-line staff bring in their own PPE
    • 48% are limiting PPE
    • 23% are limiting services to the community
    • 8% are not requiring front-line staff to wear PPE

PPE Supply Chain

  • 15% of organizations do not currently have a PPE supplier.
  • Of those organizations that currently have PPE…
    • 60% purchased PPE off the private market
    • 39% received PPE from a philanthropic donor or community group
    • 18% received PPE from federal, state, or local government
  • Organizations report having very low levels of confidence in receiving future PPE from all types of suppliers.

Prevalence of Risk to Front Line Workers

  • 40% of organizations report that their front-line workers are usually or always in physical contact with patients, clients, or customers.
  • 28% of organizations report that their front-line workers typically have interactions of longer than an hour with patients, clients, or customers.

PPE Research: Frequently Asked Questions

How were needs determined?

Nearly 400 agencies responded to a survey of frontline organizations. Questions were designed to reveal ways to establish prioritization. We had enough information to generate RISK, ACCESS, and NEEDRATIO scores for 343 organizations. If you’d like to know more, the pdf of that survey can be found here and the in-depth prioritization schema, complete with formulas, can be found here. A simplified chart of the prioritization is on page 2 of this document.

How did the RRT prioritize which organizations needed PPE?

The committee decided that an organization’s need for PPE was based on the following elements. After we computed RISK and ACCESS scores, we calculated a NEEDRATIO or an organization’s RISK score divided by its ACCESS score. Organizations with a NEEDRATIO greater than 1.0 have high risk and low access, and therefore “high need”.

Who was deemed “high need”?

Completed surveys came from all five counties: Just under 400 organizations from St. Louis City, St. Louis County, St. Charles County, St. Clair County, and Madison County completed the RRT’s PPE survey.  We had enough information to generate RISK, ACCESS, and NEEDRATIO scores for 343 of them. Of those 343 respondents with complete information, 58 were deemed highest need. Of those 58 highest need organizations, 48 served St. Louis City, 46 served St. Louis County, 28 served St. Charles County, 18 served St. Clair County, and 11 served Madison County.

What did “high need” organizations receive?

Thus far, the RRT has distributed about 70,000 surgical masks. Batches of face masks were given out in small (500 masks), medium (1000 masks), and large increments (2000 masks), based on how many frontline staff an organization had and how many individuals the organization served.

Will the RRT be distributing more PPE?

There are three things the RRT expects to happen going forward.

  1. Additional PPE surveys will be distributed by the RRT for agencies to complete.
  2. Additional PPE materials are expected to become available to the RRT.
  3. Our prioritization can be modified for those who complete multiple versions of our PPE survey, and can consider who has already received PPE from the RRT.

RRT PPE Decision Matrix

ElementPPE Prioritization ConsiderationsNEED RATIO
RISKSTAFF – What are the risks to staff of getting or transmitting the virus through their work?

  • Staff size?
  • Staff make up for high risk factors?
    • Race, age, immune status
  • Staff interaction exposure risk?

CLIENTS – What are the risks to clients of getting or transmitting the virus with this provider?

  • Client is a member of a high-risk population?
  • Client is a member of a target population?
  • Client interaction exposure risk?

LOCATION – What are the geographic risks?

  • Is service delivered in vulnerable ZIP Codes?
The equation for determining NEED RATIO is RISK score divided by ACCESS score. Then two filters were applied:

Filter #1: 

Is the agency a nonprofit or a for-profit home health care agency?

Filter #2:

Is another RRT channel currently providing PPE to the agency?

ACCESSWhat supply issues exist?

  • Is PPE available now?
  • Are there PPE reserves?
  • Are they rationing PPE?

What pipeline issues exist?

  • Is PPE procurement in place?
  • Is PPE funding available?
  • Is procurement source reliable?

March 2020 – Critical Needs Assessment

In April 2020, 134 organizations provided data to the COVID-19 Regional Response Team. Thank you to the 58 organizations that submitted answers directly through the RRT survey, and we also want to acknowledge 76 organizations that provided previously collected data. Every effort was made to align those data with the questions in our research tool, and a summary of the findings is included below. If you choose to, you may open the raw data to review what specific organizations had to say. Additionally, we are continuing to learn from new content entered into the research tool.

Our commitment to regionalism is reflected in our data. While not all responders provided information on the county(ies) they serve, below is the known reach of 114 agencies.

CountyNumber of Responders Serving This CountyPercentage of Reach
St. Charles County6759%
St. Louis County8978%
St. Louis City9181%
St. Clair County3228%
Madison County3329%

Critical Needs Research: Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Needs?

Basic needs were the clear leader in the number of times people selected it as one of their top three priorities.

The top 5 needs were as follows:

  1. Basic needs (total score = 237)
  2. Other (total score= 79)
    • Themes included:
      • Technology (internet, smart phones, laptop) to engage in telehealth and distance/virtual everything.
      • Information about COVID-19, including information conveyed through more than digital media
      • Social connection, especially for the elderly
  3. Housing (total score= 73)
  4. Healthcare (total score = 63)
  5. Education (total score = 56)

The top organizationalneed is FUNDING by a substantial margin

  • This was concluded in the same way community needs were identified above.
  • The top 5 needs were as follows:
    1. Funding (esp in light of grant restrictions) (total score =149)
    2. Materials (total score = 110)
    3. Other (total score = 62)
      • Themes included:
        • Information about how to keep staff and volunteers safe and healthy
        • Support transitioning to remote/virtual work from home
        • Staff capacity
        • Mental health support for staff
    4. Informational support (total score = 62)
    5. Education support (total score = 56)

The top organizational asset is OTHER. The next top asset is COMMUNICATIONS EXPERIENCE. *Note that most new responses did not answer this Q.

  • This was concluded by calculating the number of times an asset was endorsed and the percent of respondents who selected it.
  • The top 4 assets were as follows:
    1. Other (n=20)
      • Themes included:
        • Caregiver support
        • Basic needs (A/Cs, prescription medication support, utility assistance)
        • Networking capacity
        • Communications expertise (n=16, 29%)
    2. Policy making or advocacy expertise (n=16)
    3. Volunteers (n=12)

One of the first things the COVID-19 Regional Response Team (RRT) did after forming was begin the process of assessing the needs and assets of the organizations represented and the communities they served. This survey was one way of doing so. It was fielded from March 30th to April 21st via the Regional Response Team leads, who pushed the survey out to their networks. In addition, some organizations had data they had already collected on community and organizational needs, which a small team of research assistants “translated” into the RRT survey where possible.

How are these data being used by the RRT?

The results of this survey are being used to inform the RRT’s strategy and recommendations in terms of where, how, and why resources are allocated.

Why are several columns of data missing for some organizations?

Organizations were not required to respond to any of the questions, so they might have skipped some. Additionally, as mentioned above, to make the best use of data previously collected by other organizations, we took that data and entered it into our survey as much as possible. However, there were some questions that we asked that the source surveys did not ask, resulting in empty cells and missing data.

Can I use this data?

Sure! Please just reference the COVID-19 Regional Response Team if you do so.