A month ago, Laurie and Kevin Hommema had just finished dinner with their daughters, Emmy, 9, and Clara, 7, at their home in Columbus, Ohio. Laurie, a family physician who oversees well-being for the OhioHealth hospital network, had just come from a meeting at her hospital's Incident Command Center. She said she was worried about the dwindling supply of N95 masks and told her husband that she wouldn't have a mask when the coronavirus surge hit.
That's when Kevin, an engineer at Battelle Memorial Institute, a nonprofit research organization, offered up a simple solution, "Why don't you just clean them up and reuse them?"
Laurie said, "You can do that?" In normal circumstances, N95 masks are thrown out after a single use.
But Kevin remembered a study his colleagues at Battelle had conducted five years earlier showing the masks could be decontaminated and reused in an emergency.
"It seemed like a slam dunk to me," Kevin said.