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Company to Decontaminate Thousands of N95 Masks for CT Healthcare Workers

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The governor got a look Wednesday at technology to clean thousands of N95 masks per day so that Connecticut health care workers can reuse them.

N95 masks, or respirators, are a specific type of face mask that filters the air and Battelle, a nonprofit science and technology development organization, has a machine that can clean thousands of the N95 masks per day, according to the governor’s office.

Gov. Ned Lamont was in New Haven to visit the site where Battelle is launching a decontamination system that the governor’s office said will allow health care workers to reuse respirator masks up to 20 times.

"This site is a very proactive way to make sure that we’re keeping our healthcare workers healthy and safe," New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker said.

Lamont said state officials heard about the technology weeks ago and reached out to company officials.

"Through some mutual associates we were able to reach out to Battelle at the very highest level and tell them when we think Connecticut should be near the top of their list," the governor said.

Connecticut is the seventh state in the country to use this technology, according to the governor.

The state’s hospitals and health care providers will not be charged for the service, according to the governor’s office.

A news release Battelle issued earlier this month said the Battelle CCDS Critical Care Decontamination System is operating in Central Ohio; Long Island, New York; and Washington state; and additional systems are scheduled for operation in Boston; Brooklyn, New York; Chicago; and the National Capital Region.

The company uses vaporized hydrogen peroxide to clean the masks and the process takes five to six hours.

The company said that under a contract with the federal government, the cost of decontaminating N95 respirator masks will be funded up to $400 million across 60 sites.

Battelle officials said the contract to work in New Haven is for at least the next six months.

Yale New Haven Health System also said it has found a way to reuse N95 masks by hanging them in a room filled with vaporized hydrogen peroxide.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found several methods – including the one used at Yale – showed the most promise to decontaminate and these processes “...may need to be considered as a crisis capacity strategy to ensure continued availability.”

New Haven MayorJustin Elicker, U.S. Rosa DeLauro, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal and U,S. Senator Chris Murphy attended the news conference.

Blumenthal said more masks are needed for healthcare workers and this technology is a stopgap measure and American ingenuity at its best until enough protective equipment can be manufactured to protect healthcare workers.

U.S. Senator said 30 hospitals have signed up for the program.

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