California plans to sanitize 80,000 masks a day for health workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic

3M N95 particulate filtering face mask are seen at a store in East Palo Alto, California, United States on January 26, 2020.

Yichuan Cao | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Mark S. Ghilarducci, Director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services said at a Wednesday conference that California has been working closely with FEMA to secure devices and personal protective equipment for front line health workers.

For example, California is procuring technology from Ohio-based technology research organization Battelle, which should allow it to sanitize some 80,000 used medical-grade N95 masks per day, making them essentially as good as new. The system, which should arrive to California on Thursday, will help address mask shortages for health workers, first responders and other essential workers in the state.

Battelle’s CCDS Critical Care Decontamination System works by exposing used masks to vapor phase hydrogen peroxide, which is strong enough at a certain concentration to kill the novel coronavirus (and other contaminants) within 2.5 hours, according to the company’s website. A medical grade N95 mask can be used 20 times over instead of just once if sanitized in this system.

On Wednesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom encouraged suppliers of PPE and medical equipment, including masks, ventilators and more, to list all the resources that they have to sell or donate, on a state-run site called covid19supplies.ca.gov.

California companies are ramping up efforts to fight COVID-19. Cupertino-based Apple has committed to making 1 million face shields, and has already donated 20 million N95 masks to government organizations and hospitals. Palo Alto-based Tesla has promised to manufacture ventilators, and has purchased and donated BiPAPs and invasive ventilators to hospitals around the U.S.

But it’s not just large companies the governor appealed to — myriad independent groups of “makers” have also cropped up, in and beyond California, to procure and manufacture equipment to treat COVID-19 patients and curb the spread of the virus. 

Leave a Reply

Back to top