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DeWine calls FDA 'reckless,' wants mask-sterilizing tech to be allowed to move forward

DeWine outbreak address
Posted at 11:57 AM, Mar 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-30 05:08:31-04

COLUMBUS — After calling the Food and Drug Administration "reckless," a visibly upset Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine asked the agency to allow Battelle Labs to move forward with their mask-sterilizing technology.

"Let us move forward," DeWine said, pounding on the podium during his Sunday news conference. "We have to protect people on the frontline."

Battelle CEO Lou Von Thaer said the company has developed a process and machine to sterilize the N95 masks, which first-responders and medical personnel have been using during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Von Thaer, the process can sterilize a single mask up to 20 times, and Von Thaer said Battelle's machines could sterilize up to 80,000 masks a day.

"This has the ability to help," DeWine said. "The urgency of getting these online... is not just for Ohioans, it is for people throughout the country."

This news conference comes after the FDA authorized Batelle to sterilize only 10,000 masks a day.

"The FDA's decision to severely limit the use of this life-saving technology is nothing short of reckless," DeWine wrote in a news release. "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."

DeWine also called President Donald Trump about the issue early Sunday morning.

"We had a good conversation," DeWine tweeted Sunday.

"He told me he would take action, which I am grateful for," Dewine said at the news conference.

Trump also took to Twitter Sunday morning about his call with DeWine, writing, "@FDA must move quickly!"

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost also tweeted about the FDA and Battelle issue, taking a middle-ground stance.

"If Battelle’s technology for sterilizing face masks for re-use works safely, limiting it to only 10,000 a day is foolish," Yost wrote. "If it doesn’t, allowing it at all is reckless."

Hoping @realDonaldTrump intervenes today — but if not, I’ve got my team researching a lawsuit for tomorrow.

— Dave Yost (@Yost4Ohio) March 29, 2020

"I am hopeful," DeWine said. "What we want is help for our first-responders... We owe this to Ohioans. We owe this to people across the country."