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System to decontaminate N95 masks arrives in eastern Idaho

| May 6, 2020 2:41 PM

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A system able to decontaminate 80,000 N95 masks a day so they can be reused has arrived in Idaho Falls, strengthening the state’s ability to protect healthcare workers from the coronavirus, Gov. Brad Little said Wednesday.

The U.S. Department of Defense Logistics Agency last month awarded a $415 million contract for 60 Battelle Memorial Institute Critical Care Decontamination Systems. The systems are being distributed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Resources.

Some have been put in operation around the country decontaminating the masks that can be reused up to 20 times. There's no cost to use the service.

An element of Little’s four-stage plan to reopen the economy relies on having enough personal protective equipment for healthcare workers. Little's stay-at-home order that started March 25 expired Friday, beginning the first stage of reopening.

The decontamination system makes sure “the front-line health providers have the equipment they need,” Little said in a statement.

The Idaho Office of Emergency Management signed an agreement with Battelle that includes Idaho state agencies and local jurisdictions.

Idaho had more than 2,100 cases and at least 65 deaths due to the virus on Wednesday, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.