Governor Doug Burgum says a non-profit research institute has come up with a way to decontaminate personal protective equipment - and it's coming to North Dakota.
Burgum says the containerized systems, set up to decontaminate N95 masks and respirators, are already being set up in Bismarck. They are from Battelle Memorial Institute, and in cooperation from FEMA, they will help health care providers preserve their protective equipment free of charge. There are 60 of these systems being distributed nationwide, and North Dakota was the 26th state to receive one. 23 people to run the system will be coming to the state as well.
Burgum says shipping to and from the system will also be taken care of free of charge.
"The way it's going to work - health care systems are going to collect those masks that are worn each day in accordance with the approved procedure. The PPE will be labeled with barcode serial numbers that will be used for tracking the PPE through a chain of custody. This will ensure that each provider - whether you're a hospital system or a dental office - you'll get your own respirators back."
Burgum says the equipment will use concentrated, vapor-phase hydrogen peroxide to sterilize the masks.
"It's been validated, they're keeping it at a concentrated level for two and a half hours. It decontaminates all biological contaminates, including SARS-COV-2, the virus that causes the COVID-19 illness."
Burgum says turnaround time will vary depend on volume, and will allow for each N95 mask to be reused three times without degrading its filter performance. He says up to 10,000 masks can be done per cycle up to twice a day. He says as costs for N95 masks have been driven up, this system will save North Dakota hundreds of thousands of dollars per day. He also says in the event of a surge in cases of COVID-19, this ensures North Dakota will not be running out of personal protective equipment.