Team decontaminates N95 masks as state leaders monitor PPE

Team sets up in the convention center to disinfect PPE

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Tucked away in a corner of the Convention Center, a small team from across the country manages these shipping containers designed for an important mission.

“What you’re seeing is one of our decontamination chamber site four of them,” Juan Camacho said.

Area hospitals, nursing homes, and other medical facilities on the front lines of COVID 19 are sending thousands of used N95 masks for de-contamination at this Battelle site.

“The get placed inside these chambers behind me and we utilize hydrogen peroxide to decontaminate the masks,” Camacho said.

This is not a quick process, it can take sometimes up to 8 hours to decontaminate one batch of masks.

“It’s not a race it’s a marathon, and I want to ensure my guys are safe in there in order to accomplish their mission,” Camacho said.

When dealing with masks that are potentially laden with COVID 19 Camacho says there is an extensive checklist. Workers have the precise gear and exact procedures to follow to reduce risk and ensure masks are returned to the front line free of the virus.

“We’re keeping our first responders safe that’s our key priority,” Camacho said.

“So you can reuse it a few times from patient to patient, it’s helpful to them it’s a resource available to hospitals and clinics throughout the region,” Dr. Joseph Kanter said.

On the whole, Dr. Joseph Kanter with the State Health Department says both New Orleans and Louisiana are in a better position with PPE than at the start of the pandemic for a number of reasons.

“We’re seeing less COVID patients number one, two we’re starting to get them out of the ICU quicker than before that’s a little quicker than before so that saves PPE and the supply chains have opened up,” Kanter said.

There’s still a risk for a spike as New Orleans goes deeper into phase one, which means this team and others are constantly preparing and the PPE that’s needed to fight it.

“If there is an effect from entering phase 1 we should see that over the next week or so, so we’ll be watching closely," Kanter said.

“You’re helping your country you’re helping your state community because it could be someone you know or left one they can actually utilize these masks could be a first responder and they need that protection,” Camacho said.

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