Machine that can sterilize 80K N95 masks in a day coming to Somerville

SOMERVILLE, MASS. (WHDH) - An abandoned store in Somerville is set to become the site of a special mask decontamination center, making it one of just four across the country as officials prepare for a surge in coronavirus cases.

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Partners HealthCare joined forces with Battelle to bring a massive machine that is capable of sterilizing as many as 80,000 N95 masks in a single day to the Boston area.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders said Thursday during a news conference at the State House that Battelle’s Critical Care Decontamination System will up and running at the vacant KMart site in Somerville by Monday.

“The Battelle uses FDA-approved N95 decontamination technology,” Sudders said. “It is the fourth site operational in the United States. We moved very quickly to secure Massachusetts as the fourth location.”

Sudders added that N95 masks can be decontaminated five to 10 times before they have to be thrown out.

With the projection of coronavirus cases skyrocketing this month and peak hospitalizations expected between April 10 through 20, Gov. Charlie Baker says this machine buys vital time.

“The fact that we’ll be able to decontaminate it and use it on an extended basis using an FDA approved machine that will be located right here in Massachusetts creates a shelf life for that equipment that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise,” he said.

Battelle is a nonprofit science and technology development company headquartered in Columbus, Ohio.

The Bay State on Thursday also secured more than 1 million N95 masks from China with the help of the New England Patriots.

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