The U.S. Defense Department is using the Korean War-era Defense Production Act to boost the nation’s supply of N95 respirator masks by 39 million over the next 90 days.
Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper made the announcement yesterday, saying the $133 million contract would “ensure our government has the industrial capacity to meet the nation’s needs.”
On top of the order of the N95 masks, the Defense Logistics Agency has inked a $415 million contract to provide 60 Battelle Critical Care Decontamination Systems that can each decontaminate as many as 80,000 N95 respirator masks each day for reuse.
“This will allow medical professionals to reuse masks up to 20 times and will reduce the nation’s need for new inventory,” Esper said. He added that the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Health and Human Services have arranged for delivery of six decontamination units to cities including New York; Columbus, Ohio; Boston; Chicago; and Tacoma, Wash. — with the rest available by early May. Once in place, the 60 systems will decontaminate roughly 4.8 million masks per day.