CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- The Chesterfield County Fairgrounds are now home to one of Virginia's three decontamination centers that will help in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Batelle Critical Care Decontamination System, which have multiple units that use concentrated hydrogen peroxide vapors to clean N95 masks, is able to decontaminate a mask up to 20 times without degrading the PPE's filtration performance.
"We'll mark each mask every time it's cleaned," Richmond site leader Nick Slavik said. "We'll put a number on the inside, where it says one, tack two, tack three -- up until the number of times it's been decontaminated. So if we get a mask that says 20, then we wouldn't be able to clean it, we'd have to discard it."
As a result, officials said the new technology will help address possible shortages of PPE and protect those fighting the virus.
Gov. Ralph Northam previously said the machines, which are each the size of a storage container, would be a "big help to our medical facilities and our first responders."
Virginia received two other decontamination systems. The first unit was built in Blacksburg and is being shared with West Virginia and Tennessee. The third unit will be in Newport News.
As of Wednesday morning, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) reported 26,746 cases of COVID-19. This is an increase of 946 cases from Tuesday. More than 925 deaths have been linked to COVID-19 in Virginia.
Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.
COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.
Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid contact with sick people.Avoid non-essential travel.