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Decontamination system for N95 masks ready in Wisconsin



MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A decontamination system that can sanitize N95 respirator masks worn mainly by healthcare workers is ready for use in Wisconsin, Gov. Tony Evers announced Saturday.

The Battelle system will be able to decontaminate up to 80,000 masks on a daily basis and clean respirators up to 20 times without degrading filtration performance. Evers said the addition will help ease the shortage of personal protection equipment and aid in the fight against COVID-19.

“Our front line workers are in need of these critical PPE supplies, and we are doing everything we can to supply them with the tools to effectively do their jobs while preventing further spread,” Evers said in a statement.

State health officials on Saturday announced 349 new cases of COVID-19, increasing the total number to 9,939. The state confirmed 14 more deaths, for a total of 398. Officials found six new cases among inmates at the Dane County Jail, raising the total to 29.

The pandemic forced the University of Wisconsin-Madison to move online Saturday for its graduation ceremonies. Bestselling author James Patterson gave the virtual commencement address from his kitchen, aptly decorated with Badgers paraphernalia.

“It helped me feel that UW energy and Badger pride that I had been missing,” said Bridget Garnier, who watched the ceremony with her husband and two young daughters in Costa Rica. She earned a doctorate in geoscience.

Preliminary figures show 8,460 degrees were conferred Saturday, including 6,241 undergraduate, 1,352 masters and 867 doctoral. The graduates represented 48 U.S. states and territories and 53 countries.

Meanwhile, a plan to release the names of long-term care facilities with positive COVID-19 cases is being scrutinized by associations that represent nursing homes and residential facilities.

Representatives of LeadingAge Wisconsin said Saturday that the list should not be viewed as a measure of quality of care offered by specific facilities. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services said it will begin releasing the names on Monday.

“To be clear, the mere presence of COVID-19 does not indicate a poorly run facility, but more likely represents a facility that is actively aiding in the fight within this public health crisis,” John Sauer, president and CEO of LeadingAge Wisconsin, said in a release.ADVERTISEMENT

John Vander Meer, president and CEO of Wisconsin Health Care Association and the Wisconsin Center for Assisted Living, added that the report should not diminish the work of frontline caregivers who “deserve our respect and support” for their efforts.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

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