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Technicians in protective clothing do a dry run at Battelle's Critical Care Decontamination System in New York. Photo: John Paraskevas/Newsday RM via Getty Images

Battelle, an Ohio nonprofit research and development firm, has employees working to disinfect thousands of face masks used by health care workers during the coronavirus pandemic, The New York Times reports.

Why it matters: There is a shortage of personal protective equipment, even as companies from fashion and tech industries are stepping up to manufacture masks.

The state of play: Battelle typically works on a range of products such as robotics and oil drilling.

  • Battelle is training new employees so they can set up decontamination sites in Long Island, Seattle, Boston, Washington, D.C. and other cities.

How it works: Battelle receives N95 masks from more than 100 hospitals, clinics, fire departments and nursing homes that are treated with hydrogen peroxide vapor, per the Times.

  • Masks are inspected before they are processed. Roughly 90% can be disinfected.
  • 50,000 masks are taken into the decontamination chamber per cycle, and workers make sure the masks don't overlap.
  • Workers are sprayed with a 70% alcohol solution after they exit the chamber.
  • A hydrogen peroxide generator releases a vapor to neutralize the coronavirus and other contaminants.
  • The masks are inspected after four hours for harmful levels of residual hydrogen peroxide before they are packaged and sent back.

Go deeper: The race to make more masks and ventilators

Go deeper

56 mins ago - World

Pentagon: 8,500 troops on high alert for possible deployment to eastern Europe

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has placed 8,500 U.S. troops on "heightened preparedness to deploy" to eastern Europe in case NATO activates its rapid-response force over tensions with Russia, the Pentagon announced Monday.

Why it matters: No decisions have been made to actually deploy U.S. forces, but the heightened alert level will allow the military to rapidly shore up NATO's eastern flank in the event that Russia invades Ukraine. The Pentagon warned that Russia has shown "no signs of de-escalating," and continues to amass troops on Ukraine's borders.

Updated 1 hour ago - Economy & Business

S&P 500 on track for worst-ever start to year

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Stocks suffered their steepest drop of the year early Monday, putting the S&P 500 on course for its worst-ever start to a year.

Driving the news: The benchmark S&P 500 dropped for its fifth straight day, with losses nearing 3% in early trading, momentarily putting it on track to fall into a "correction." Some of the steepest losses were recovered in early afternoon trading.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
2 hours ago - Health

Health care workers hit new breaking point

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The ranks of health care workers are dwindling and stretching what it means to be reaching their "breaking points," particularly at small nonprofit hospitals.

The big picture: Even as Omicron cases have begun to wane in some places, many hospitals are still fielding a crush of patients amid record employee callouts.