DeWine, Husted 'disappointed' in FDA decision on mask sterilization, vow to 'keep fighting'
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted expressed disappointment on Sunday in a decision by the FDA to limit the number of masks that can be sterilized by a new piece of technology developed by Battelle Labs in Columbus.
In a statement released Sunday, the governor's office said the FDA had only approved the device to sterilize 10,000 masks per day, despite the company's claim they had the capacity for 16 times that amount.
"The FDA's decision to severely limit the use of this life-saving technology is nothing short of reckless," said Governor DeWine in the statement. "Battelle's innovative technology has the capability to protect healthcare professionals and first responders in Ohio and across the country, but in this time of crisis, the FDA has decided not to support those who are risking their lives to save others. This is a matter of life and death. I am not only disappointed by this development, but I'm also stunned that the FDA would decline to do all it can to protect this country's frontline workers in this serious time of need."
During a press conference on Sunday, the governor said he had reached out to President Trump who had agreed to assist in pursuing the original approvals sought by the governor and Battelle. In a press conference later on Sunday, the president confirmed that he was on DeWine's side in the matter and was working with the FDA for that approval.
According to Battelle's CEO, Lewis Von Thaer, who appeared at the governor's press conference by video call, the technology would allow them to sterilize a mask up to 20 times before it would need to be discarded, drastically extending the life of badly needed PPE. Battelle is also hoping to send some of these machines to hard-hit states like New York.
which uses UV rays to disinfect equipment that is suspected to have come in contact with COVID-19.
A shortage of surgical and N-95 masks was on a list of top-10 items DeWine and Ohio Health Department director Dr. Amy Acton held up during Saturday's press conference.
DeWine also spoke Saturday about the eight hospital regions set up in Ohio to deal cooperatively with the COVID-19 outbreak. He reiterated how it is imperative for each group to work collectively as one within itself as well as with other groups.
With a concern over housing patients at hospitals, DeWine asked leaders in the regions to be creative, including asking nursing homes to house non-infected patients in their facilities, freeing up beds and space for COVID-19 patients at the hospital facilitates.