This UV-light ‘bug zapper’ can decontaminate 600 N95 masks an hour

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The best option is for doctors to not reuse masks, but during the shortages of the last few months, a team of engineers from Lehigh University helped a nearby hospital come up with a stopgap solution to make reusing masks safer. In a room at St. Luke’s University Hospital in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, sits an octagonal machine, 80 inches in diameter and about 5 feet tall, that glows with the bright blue of UV lights. It’s been nicknamed the “bug zapper,” both because it resembles an oversized one, and because, essentially, it zaps away the bug behind COVID-19. Using powerful UV-C lights, the device can decontaminate about 200 N95 masks with just 15 minutes of ultraviolet light exposure. That works out to about 600 masks per hour. Read Full Story

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This filter for the front of an N95 mask could make it reusable

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Scientists came up with an experimental virus-blocking membrane that can be discarded so doctors can use the mask again. As governments around the world struggle to build up a supply of N95 masks for healthcare workers—navigating price gouging, counterfeit respirators, scammers, and fierce competition from other governments—some hospitals are still taking care of COVID-19 patients without adequate supplies, and reusing masks that were designed to be disposable. Read Full Story

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MIT researchers create a reusable silicone mask to replace the N95

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The mask can be easily cleaned after each use, so it could help solve supply issues. And it’s clear, which could help with communication. As new coronavirus cases spike in the U.S.—Florida alone now has 12 times more cases than the entire country of Australia—healthcare workers still face a shortage of N95 masks. Many hospitals are now reusing the masks, even though they’re intended to be thrown out after a single use. Various solutions for disinfecting masks or increasing the supply are in the works , but a new silicone mask now in development is designed to be used and sterilized repeatedly, and could be as effective as the gold standard of an N95 respirator. Read Full Story

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Somehow, we still don’t have enough N95 masks

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In an ideal world, there would now be an N95 for anyone who wanted one. Instead, even doctors are having a hard time getting them—10 months after the pandemic began. At the start of the pandemic, there was a sudden realization that hospitals did not have enough N95 respirators, the masks that are the industry standard to protect workers from respiratory illness. Because healthcare personnel working around COVID-19 patients needed many more N95s than usual, hospitals’ stockpiles weren’t large enough. The problem was so acute that members of the public were asked to donate N95s they had at home to hospitals . Read Full Story

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Why haven’t they designed reusable N95 masks?

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As the country faces a shortage of protective gear and healthcare workers are asked to keep masks in paper bags between shifts, why don’t we have masks that can be disinfected safely? One of the tragedies of the coronavirus crisis is the lack of protection for healthcare workers: With a shortage of N95 masks—the respirators that can help filter out virus-filled droplets from coughs or sneezes—doctors and nurses in the U.S. are begging the government to do more to increase production. In Italy and China, thousands of doctors were infected with COVID-19 in part because they didn’t have masks, gloves, or other protection. Many have died. Read Full Story

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Mask loose? This simple fix can make it fit

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The device fits over your mask to create a tighter seal, better protecting yourself and others. Months into the pandemic, many hospitals are still facing shortages of N95 masks. For the rest of us, the masks that are available—especially the surgical masks that are most effective at preventing the spread of the virus—often don’t quite fit. But a simple new add-on could help correct that. Read Full Story

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It’s hard to breathe in an N95 mask. This Stanford scientist has a clever solution

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The N95 mask is a lifesaver, but it’s uncomfortable to wear for a long time. One Stanford scientist has a potential solution. It certainly doesn’t look elegant: an N95 mask , with two tubes sticking out, one of which snakes its way down to a bolted hunk of metal that resembles an industrial Discman. But looks can be deceiving. This new device, being developed at Stanford, is probably the most comfortable N95 a nurse or doctor could ever wear. Read Full Story

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This DIY kit turns an Ikea box into a mask decontamination unit for hospitals on the brink

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As hospitals run out of protective gear and are forced to use masks over and over, scientists are looking for ways to make masks safer to reuse. This one would let hospitals make a simple machine to squeeze a longer life out of every mask they have. Hospitals still don’t have enough masks for the nurses and doctors on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis—and in the U.S., at least 5,400 healthcare workers have been infected and at least 40 have died. N95 masks aren’t designed to be reusable , but many hospitals are now faced with no other choice. In New York City, nurses have reported being told to use the same mask for five shifts in a row. Read Full Story

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How to decontaminate an N95 mask in just 3 minutes

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Scientists have developed a method of steaming your mask in the microwave that kills all the viruses living on it. You have all the equipment you need at home. Months after mask manufacturers ramped up production of N95 masks in response to the coronavirus crisis, hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes taking care of COVID-19 patients are still facing shortages of the respirators. Because of the lack of supply for essential workers, consumers still can’t buy the masks in many stores, despite the fact that they’re one of the best lines of defense against the virus. And as COVID-19 cases spike in many areas, the problem will get worse. Read Full Story

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