Oklahoma receives new N95 mask decontamination system that officials say will help protect frontline workers during pandemic

Coronavirus
N95 masks

In this illustration dated February 26, 2020, protective N-95 face masks lie on a table at an office in Washington, DC. (Photo by EVA HAMBACH/AFP via Getty Images)

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The State of Oklahoma has received a new decontamination system that will enable health care providers to recycle N95 masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state is receiving a decontamination system developed by Battelle, a global research and development organization headquartered in Columbus, Ohio.

Battelle’s decontamination system, which was created to address the global shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), can decontaminate up to 10,000 masks at a time, according to an Oklahoma State Department of Health news release.

“This system is a way to ensure an uninterrupted supply of critical PPE is available to health care workers and first responders in our state for the long-term,” Interim Health Commissioner Lance Frye said. “Oklahoma’s stockpile of PPE is in good shape now and through proactive partnerships like this we can add an extra layer of insurance that it will remain that way.”

The decontamination process takes about 2.5 hours per batch. Health care workers can expect to have their masks cleaned and back to them within approximately 72 hours of receipt at the processing facility that will be located in Muskogee, according to the news release.

Officials say an N95 mask can be decontaminated up to 20 times without degraded performance.

The decontamination service will be at no cost to Oklahoma. Battelle received a contract to provide free N95 decontamination to health care providers from the Defense Logistics Agency on behalf of the U.S Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

“This is a great example of the partnership between FEMA, our state and local partners, and health care providers working together to implement innovative solutions to preserve valuable personal protective equipment for those frontline Oklahomans taking care of those in need,” said FEMA Region 6 Administrator Tony Robinson.

Gov. Kevin Stitt said the system will help the state protect Oklahomans who are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“My first priority has always been to protect the health and lives of Oklahomans,” said Gov. Kevin Stitt. “This system will help us continue to protect our health care workers and first responders as we stay proactive in our fight against COVID-19. Oklahoma is better when we work together.”

Battelle will transport the system to Oklahoma and provide staffing to operate it, according to the news release.

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