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MSU baking masks to decontaminate, re-use for healthcare workers during COVID-19 pandemic

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Posted at 2:34 PM, Apr 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-03 15:36:54-04

(WXYZ) — Michigan State University has developed a solution for healthcare workers to reuse N95 masks while working to fight COVID-19.

The MSU Extension Food Processing Innovation Center partnered with Sparrow Health System to extend the life of protective masks.

“The need for personal protection equipment is greatly outweighing the demand. We saw this as a call to action for a university with such a depth and breadth of ability to innovate and a true sense of urgency around doing all we can to support and protect the wonderful people of our state,” said Norman J. Beauchamp Jr., executive vice president for health sciences at MSU. “Turning our efforts toward decontaminating N95 masks is amongst the most significant thing we can do to ensure the health and safety of medical workers, preserving the ability to respond to those needing care.”

The university says staff at the center retooled the equipment to heat the masks in a way that it kills viruses and bacteria. The masks are then sealed in individual bags and left to further decontaminate for three days before being returned.

A test run confirmed that the process was successful before any masks were given to health care workers, the university says.

“We are all in this outbreak response together – university, state, country, world,” MSU Extension Director Jeff Dwyer added. “This is just another way Spartans are stepping up to make a difference.”

Staff are developing protocols that can be replicated by others who have commercial-scale spiral ovens. In addition, they are using FDA-approved formulas to create sanitizer that can be used on non-surgical hard surfaces in medical facilities.

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