NEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) - The governor scheduled a visit on Wednesday morning to the site of a mask decontamination site in New Haven.

Gov. Ned Lamont and lawmakers toured Battelle's operation on Chapel Street around 10:30 a.m.

Battelle is a nonprofit science and technology development organization that's launching the decontamination system which will allow healthcare workers to reuse respirator masks.

The organization’s machine, which was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, can clean thousands of the N95 masks per day and make them safe for reuse up to 20 times, Lamont's office said.

As of Wednesday morning, more than 30 hospitals and healthcare providers signed up for the service. More are expected.

Channel 3 was told that the system will run 24 hours a day.

“We can do tens of thousands each day, so there's about 5,000 per unit and so we have four units," said Jeff Rose of Battelle. "So depending on the volume that comes in, we feel like we can meet the need here.”

The governor said Connecticut is among the first states in the nation to use the new technology, and the service is being offered at no charge to the state’s hospitals and health care providers.

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

The masks will be labeled and barcoded with a serial number so they can be tracked, ensuring hospitals get their own masks back.

Then they’re hit with vapors of concentrated hydrogen peroxide.

Four years ago, Battelle published research after looking into what would happen if a national pandemic caused a shortage of masks.

So when it actually did, it was able to scale up quickly.

According to Battelle, it spiked n95 masks with the coronavirus for its testing, saying no viable signs were recovered in the samples following the decontamination.

The State of Connecticut partnered with Battelle in the effort and provided the organization with use of a Department of Transportation warehouse to operate the system. 

While it's masks right now, Batelle is currently doing research to see if the same process can be used to decontaminate goggles and face shields. 

Copyright 2020 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


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