Illinois using decontamination system that can clean thousands of N95 masks in 24 hours

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Masks await sterilization at Battelle (Courtesy: Battelle)

BY Elizabeth Matthews, Fox 32 News

The state of Illinois is turning to a new decontamination system that can clean thousands of N95 masks in just 24 hours. The move will help protect healthcare workers while cutting down on PPE waste.

Governor JB Pritzker says they have distributed nearly 20 million pieces of PPE during the coronavirus pandemic, and so the decontamination system — located in Waukegan — is meant to sanitize N95 masks sent in from state healthcare workers and first responders.

“After being exposed to what’s called vaporize hydrogen peroxide, those masks can come out clean and ready for use again,” said Justin Sanchez of the Battelle Memorial Institute.

Sanchez is with the company behind the technology.

“You can put about 10,000 masks in each one of those boxes at a time. And then, let’s say you run it over two shifts, you can get to like 80,000 total masks if you truly wanted to run it at full capacity,” he said.

A single mask can be sanitized in this system up to 20 times. It is a critical resource in a time of PPE shortage.

“We’ve sent out 10.1 million surgical masks, over 1.8 million N95 masks,” Pritzker said.

The governor says orders are still coming in and the White House sent more than 800,000 masks on Monday.

There is also more resources being sent to longterm care facilities. Soon, ten teams of 50 nurses will deploy statewide to help nursing homes with testing and training support, as testing for COVID-19 at these homes is about to get a boost.

“IDPH secured a special contract with Quest Diagnostics to run 3,000 tests per day from Illinois longterm care facilities at no cost to the facilities and Quest has promised to provide results in a 48-hour window,” Pritzker said.

This article originally appeared on Fox 32 News.

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