COVID—PPEWarrior educates, invests in COVID-19

September 16, 2021

By Sandra Millon Underwood, RN, PhD
FAAN Professor, UW-Milwaukee College of Nursing

Dezzy Lovell

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic most people had never heard of or used the acronym PPE; now it is a household term. PPE stands for personal protective equipment, and over the past year it has become important safety armor as we continue our fight against COVID-19.

One individual, Dezzy Lovell, has found a way to not only help educate people about the proper use of PPE, and reinvest into the community, while expanding his business. Lovell has operated PPE Warrior for about one and a half years in Brown Deer, WI. His family owns an industrial distribution business in Shreveport, LA so Lovell also works in the family business selling safety and medical equipment, and janitorial supplies throughout the country.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, Barksdale Air Force Base in Shreveport, LA—one of the largest Air Force bases in the country—had a difficult time securing GOJO (brand name) dispensers and sanitizer. Those PPE items were designated for first responders, leaving the military base unable to purchase this brand of sanitizer anywhere. Because my family had been in business for 20 years, we had established connections that made it possible for us to secure sanitizer. We worked with Barksdale personnel to ensure they had universal sanitizer machines, so they would not be married to one brand,” said Lovell.

The dilemma that the military was having is what prompted Lovell to start PPE Warrior.

“After helping the Air Force base, I began thinking about the fact that if one of the largest military bases in the nation could not secure field dispensers and sanitizers, then what were the mom and pop businesses, social service agencies, and others doing to PPE?” said Lovell.

Lovell ordered 400 universal field dispenser machines and sanitizer, putting him on the path to a fulfilling a unique niche. PPE Warrior is an industry-leading personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning products provider that serves businesses, schools, hotels, government agencies, public institutions, and offices. The company is U.S.-based and minority-owned. PPE Warrior’s long track record of distributing infection prevention and control supplies before this pandemic, enabled the company to create the Clean & Safe Office System designed to help keep workplaces safe from the spread of infectious diseases.

While Lovell was able to fulfill orders for PPE for small businesses, churches, and other organizations, two other events really cemented his passion and determination to not only sell PPE but educate business owners about the proper use of PPE.

“My father was living in a nursing home in Pine Bluff, Arkansas when he passed from COVID-19. That facility went through a tough time. Most of the health care workers at that nursing facility were under 30 years of age. Many of those workers were in denial about the devastating effects of COVID-19, so several of them contracted COVID-19 and a few died. It was a real shocker to me how quickly COVID-19 ravaged that nursing home. Those two events prompted me to further research COVID-19 to increase of my understanding of it and how it impacts communities,” said Lovell.

During the pandemic Lovell’s company was also nominated for the Governor’s Business Plan competition and made it through the second round of finalists.

“It was a big deal to become a finalist in that competition. It put PPE Warrior in position to be considered as a partner for organizations such as ACA International, Pitney Bowes, Federal Express and other major companies. It gave PPE Warrior the ‘shot in the arm’ that we needed. We now hold the contract for providing face masks to the City of Milwaukee. That has helped give us steady business,” said Lovell.

Besides becoming a well established vendor, Lovell works with social service agencies, micro and small businesses, and churches to help educate them on the proper use of PPE.

“There is a right way and wrong way to use disinfectant. For example, why get sanitizer that is 70 percent effective in killing germs, when you really need sanitizer that is at least 90 percent? We have been reaching out to small businesses and organizations to help make sure they are educated about COVID-19 and we work with them to ensure they are CDCcompliant. In short, we reduce liability. Checking temperatures was not on an employee’s job description, but organizations are asking employees to perform a job that puts their lives at risk. How do you (as a business owner) address that? We tell businesses that PPE Warrior is there to help them reduce human liability as well as business liability,” said Lovell.

“It is a good feeling to know that I am making a difference. You can see people clamoring for education about COVID-19. When I do giveaways, I see people wanting the masks. Those masks have no resell value; people are actually using the PPE. My life was dramatically impacted by COVID-19 (with the loss of my dad). In my own small way, I’m doing my part to help people,” said Lovell

The COVID-19 Awareness, Understanding, Screening, Surveillance, Social Support, Education and Empowerment Project is encouraging COVID-19 vaccinations among men, women, and youth (12 years of age and older) in Southeastern Wisconsin by increasing public awareness and understanding about COVID-19; increasing access to resources essential to COVID-19 prevention and control in venues where Black Americans work, worship and are otherwise engaged; and, providing resources for navigation to COVID-19 screening and COVID-19 vaccination. The project, which aims to ensure that no one is left without and that no one is left behind, is supported by the Anthem Foundation. For more information about the project and access to available COVID-19 awareness, prevention, and control resources, contact Dr. Sandra Millon Underwood at underwoo@uwm.edu.