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Gov. Doug Burgum today highlighted a new capability that will help North Dakota meet demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) during the coronavirus pandemic, as the state’s number of recovered COVID-19 cases surpassed the number of active cases.  

On Monday, the North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) will begin operation of a Battelle Critical Care Decontamination System for PPE. The mobile decontamination system is self-contained and uses vapor-phase hydrogen peroxide to decontaminate N95 respirator masks.
“Having an ample supply of PPE was one of our eight criteria for moving ahead with the ND Smart Restart, and the Battelle system will further improve our PPE capacity while also better preparing us for a potential second surge in COVID-19 cases,” Burgum said. “We’re grateful to our federal, state, local and private partners for their continued collaboration to save lives and livelihoods in North Dakota.”

North Dakota has one of 60 Battelle systems distributed nationwide. The state requested the Battelle system on April 15 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), after the system received emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Columbus, Ohio-based Battelle is supplying staff to operate the system in NDDoH-leased warehouse space in Bismarck.

The systems and staff to run the Battelle system are funded through the Defense Logistics Agency, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and FEMA to help address national shortages of N95 respirators.

The system allows North Dakota to provide shipping and N95 decontamination at no charge to health care organizations, EMS agencies, public health, public safety agencies including law enforcement and fire departments, funeral homes, dental offices, and optometry and chiropractic clinics, among others.   

Health care systems will collect worn respirators each day in accordance with an approved procedure, and the PPE will be labeled with a bar-coded serial number that will be used for tracking the PPE chain-of-custody throughout the decontamination process. This procedure ensures that the hospital system gets its own respirators back. 

The Battelle system can decontaminate 10,000 masks per cycle, with two cycles per day at maximum capacity. The processing and turnaround time for decontaminated respirators will depend on incoming volume, but generally it will take 5 to 7 days including shipping time.

The system enables up to three reuses for an N95 respirator without degrading filter performance. The NDDoH is currently evaluating if further reuses can be performed.   

Health care organizations can find more information on the program and the Battelle system at www.health.nd.gov/coronavirus under Health Care Providers.

The NDDoH today confirmed 54 additional cases of COVID-19 out of 1,634 tests, for a positive test rate of 3.3 percent. With a record 113 newly recovered cases reported today, the number of active cases decreased by 61, to 678 active cases, compared with 714 recovered cases. Two deaths of individuals with COVID-19 were reported today, bringing the state’s total to 33 deaths. Thirty-three people are hospitalized.

For more information on the state’s COVID-19 response, visit www.health.nd.gov/coronavirus or www.ndresponse.gov.

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