Governor Parson Announces Deployment of Decontamination System in Missouri to Assist with N95 Mask Shortage

 — In today’s COVID-19 briefing, Governor Parson announced the deployment of a decontamination system in Missouri to assist with the N95 mask shortage.

Governor Parson was joined by CoxHealth Medical Director of Infectious Diseases Dr. Robin Trotman, Missouri Department of  Health and Senior Services (DHSS) Director Dr. Randall Williams, MO HealthNet Director Todd Richardson, and Missouri Department of Public Safety Director Sandy Karsten. 

In an effort to conserve personal protective equipment amid the COVID-19 crisis, hospitals, health care providers, and first responder agencies will have the opportunity to utilize the Battelle Critical Care Decontamination System (CCDS) starting next week to safely decontaminate N95 masks for reuse.

Expanding PPE reserves is one of the four essential pillars of the state’s “Show Me Strong Recovery” plan. 

“The PPE shortage has been a top concern in Missouri and nationwide as health care professionals and first responders respond to COVID-19,” Governor Parson said. “By helping conserve PPE, this system will be a huge asset to our overall recovery plan.”

A result of two decades of research and approved for use through the federal Food and Drug Administration, the system uses a process of vapor phase hydrogen peroxide to decontaminate the masks. Any one mask can be decontaminated using this process up to 20 times without impacting its integrity. 

The Battelle CCDS is 100 percent federally funded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services, allowing the mask decontamination to be provided at no cost to health care providers.

There will be up to 13 drop-off and pick-up sites located throughout the state for health care providers and first responders to drop off their N95 masks for decontamination. Each facility or organization will be responsible for correctly and safely packaging their contaminated masks and labeling them according to the directions supplied by Battelle. 

The masks are then transported via a biohazard courier to the temporary site of the Battelle CCDS in Jefferson City. The masks are then returned to the original drop-off/pick-up site approximately 72 hours following drop-off.

The Battelle system is completely safe while in operation to the surrounding community. Specialists from both DHSS and the Department of Natural Resources have thoroughly reviewed the specifications.

It is anticipated that the Battelle system will be available to Missouri providers for use for at least six months. Battelle continues to research additional types of PPE that might be safely decontaminated using this process. Any health care or first responder organization interested in using the Battelle CCDS to decontaminate N95 masks should enroll at www.battelle.org/N95

Also in today’s briefing, Governor Parson announced that DHSS has expanded the criteria for who can be approved for testing through the Missouri State Public Health Laboratory. 

In addition to symptomatic close contacts to a suspect COVID-19 patient or a laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 patient and symptomatic health care workers and first responders, DHSS will also approve state testing for symptomatic residents of congregate living facilities whose residents are at higher risk for poor outcomes; symptomatic hospitalized patients who have signs and symptoms compatible with COVID-19; and symptomatic patients who are at high risk for negative health outcomes from COVID-19. 

For individuals not meeting DHSS criteria for testing, providers may pursue private laboratory testing. Testing through private laboratories does not require DHSS approval. An interactive testing site map is now available on the DHSS website. 

To view Governor Parson’s remarks from today’s briefing, please see attachment. Pictures from the briefing are available on Governor Parson’s Flickr page.