Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Lt. Governor Jon Husted on Sunday thanked President Trump and Dr. Stephen Hahn of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approving a plan to sterilize N95 masks to fight the coronavirus.
Earlier Sunday, DeWine called an emergency press conference to express his “deep disappointment” with the FDA for limiting the use of the new technology, The Ohio Star reported.
DeWine announced Saturday that he had asked the FDA to issue an emergency waiver to Battelle Memorial Institute, a Columbus-based company, for the use of its new technology that could sterilize up to 160,000 protective face masks per day in Ohio. The “Battelle Decontamination System” was developed to help address the nation’s shortage of N95 respirator masks.
During his daily COVID-19 press briefing, President Trump thanked DeWine, whom he said called him about the issue. In turn, the president said, he called the FDA to get the ball rolling.
“I’ve been asking why are we throwing some of these masks away,” Trump said.
Once Trump intervened, the FDA authorized Battelle to deploy its groundbreaking technology to sterilize surgical masks without a daily limit, which will allow Battelle to operate at its desired capacity, DeWine said. The Battelle Critical Care Decontamination System is capable of decontaminating up to 80,000 respirator masks per system each day.
“I want to thank President Trump for his leadership and Dr. Hahn of the FDA for approving the use of this life-saving technology that Battelle has developed,” said DeWine. “This will not only help Ohio’s healthcare workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, but Battelle will also be helping health care workers in hot spots throughout the country including New York and Washington state.”
Husted said, “We‘re grateful that the President and the FDA moved quickly to help us get this solution back up and running. This Ohio-driven solution has the potential to save lives now and in the future across the United States.”
In addition to offering this technology in Ohio, Battelle intends to send one machine to New York City and one to Stony Brook, New York, which will provide for the sterilization of up to 160,000 surgical masks for New York’s healthcare workers each day. Machines will also be dispatched to the state of Washington.
Battelle plans to ship four more units elsewhere in the United States next week and 15 additional machines in the coming weeks, DeWine said.
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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.