Mayor Fischer, UofL announce innovative new tool for the conservation and reuse of vital N95 masks

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FROM THE OFFICE OF MAYOR GREG FISCHER:

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (April 11, 2020) – Mayor Greg Fischer today highlighted a new program at the University of Louisville aimed at alleviating the N95 respirator shortage amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Mayor was joined on his daily briefing by Dr. Leslie C. Sherwood, Assistant Vice President for Research Services at the University of Louisville, who explained that through its N95 Decontamination Program, U of L will decontaminate and sterilize used respirators through a Centers for Disease Control-approved and Food and Drug Administration-authorized process using vaporized hydrogen peroxide (VHP).

Dr. Sherwood said U of L is providing this service at no cost to participating organizations for use by healthcare providers, first responders, and community organizations such as nursing homes.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak began, Mayor Fischer has asked Louisvillians to help healthcare workers and first responders by donating medical masks, gloves, face shields, gowns, and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and the community has continued to answer the call.

“The global COVID19 pandemic has put a spotlight on some real challenges in our nation, but time and again our city has shown its compassion, innovation, and resilience by stepping up to support our healthcare workers, first responders, and those who are putting their lives on the line in our hospitals and out on our streets,” the Mayor said. “This new effort by the University of Louisville will be a tremendous boost by enabling us to conserve and reuse vital N95 respirators. Thank you to Doctor Sherwood and the University of Louisville for providing a critical new tool in our fight against the spread of COVID-19.”

The VHP decontamination process used by UofL was originally developed after the 2014 Ebola crisis as a way to conserve PPE in the event of a pandemic-related shortage. This process is currently being used at other institutions, including Duke University in North Carolina, and each respirator can be decontaminated up to 20 times.

In Louisville, the effort will be performed on the UofL Health Sciences Center campus. UofL’s Research Resources Facilities and the Office of Research Services is providing the VHP generator, facilities, and equipment and will have capacity to decontaminate approximately 7,000 respirators per day.

For more information, interested organizations should contact Dr. Sherwood by email at leslie.sherwood@louisville.edu.

Mayor urges Louisville to keep the faith, but keep it close to home

 The Mayor again urged Louisvillians to continue staying home and avoid the temptation to gather together for Easter. Although Louisville has managed to avoid a massive surge of COVID-19 patients overwhelming local hospitals, he said, it is too soon to ease up on social distancing and resume gathering in public again.

“Tomorrow is Easter Sunday and for those who have grown up in the Christian tradition it is the holiest day of the year—a time when we normally gather to worship and celebrate,” said Mayor Fischer.  “But this year, I have reluctantly, but emphatically, asked people of faith to keep the faith – by staying home, worshipping at home and practicing social distancing so we can save lives. The more disciplined we are now, the more lives we save, and the sooner we can come out of our houses and safely gather to worship together again.”

Mayor Fischer thanked all the local faith leaders who have been working with officials to combat COVID-19 and pushing their services and other events online.

“I’m so proud that 99.9 percent of Louisville religious leaders are on board,” said Fischer. “They know in order to protect their congregants and the people and family around them, they have to do it. That’s what leadership looks like: Doing the right thing even when it’s hard.”

Health update from Dr. Moyer

Mayor Fischer also was joined today by Dr. Sarah Moyer, the city’s Chief Health Strategist, to discuss the importance of safe storage of firearms, especially during this time when children are at home and not school.

Dr. Moyer touted the Be SMART for Kids non-partisan campaign that seeks to prevent child firearm deaths through an emphasis on responsible storage of guns. SMART is an acronym for:

  • SECURE guns in homes and vehicles
  • MODEL responsible behavior
  • ASK about the presence of guns in other homes
  • RECOGNIZE the role of firearms in suicides
  • TELL your peers to Be SMART

“With tomorrow being Easter, many of you will be hiding Easter eggs and baskets around your home and encouraging your kids to look for them. The last thing anyone wants a child to find tomorrow is a loaded gun,” said Dr. Moyer. “PLEASE, secure your firearms because I think we can all agree that the worst our kids should suffer tomorrow is a bellyache from too much candy.”

Every year, nearly 300 children gain access to a firearm and unintentionally shoot themselves or someone else, and most find that gun in their home. For more information on BeSMARTforKids, visit BeSMARTforKids.org.

Daily COVID-19 data

As of Saturday, there have been 536 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Louisville, an increase of 16 since Friday. There has been one new death (a 55-year-old male), bringing the Louisville total to 40. This number reflects a correction, as four previously reported deaths were discovered not to have been in Jefferson County.

Currently, 28 members of LMPD, Louisville Fire, Metro EMS, Metro Corrections and the Sheriff’s Office are off-duty due to COVID-19:

  • 5 are off with positive tests and in self-isolation.
  • 9 are off and quarantined due to exposure to someone with a positive test.
  • 8 are “screened off” with symptoms and tests pending.

Positive test numbers for first responders/public safety since the incident began: 10 positive tests, and 5 have fully recovered and returned to duty.

Metro Corrections inmate data for April 10: 38 inmates have been tested, with no positive tests.

Mayor reminds everyone of resources available to help during the crisis

Households in need of financial assistance to cover basic needs like food, transportation, access to education, and more are encouraged to apply to the One Louisville COVID-19 Response Fund. Simply go to Louisvilleky.gov and click on the link at the top.

To apply for unemployment benefits, individuals can call 502-875-0442 or go online at kentuckycareercenter.com.

For small businesses, Louisville Forward is available to help access resources. Go to the Louisville Forward homepage at https://louisvilleky.gov/government/louisville-forward.

For individuals in need of mental health services, please contact:

“Thanks to everyone who’s working hard to help us get through this crisis,” said Mayor Fischer. “I’m incredibly proud of the work you’re doing and the response of our compassionate city.”