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CSU testing to make sure masks, gowns are up to standard

As Colorado orders personal protective equipment from around the world, researchers at CSU are working to make sure the masks are safe for doctors and nurses to use.

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — While most stay home, labs at Colorado State University are working overtime.

As Colorado orders personal protective equipment (PPE) from around the world, researchers at CSU are working to make sure the masks are safe for doctors and nurses to use.

"We have over 25 research projects and 100 personnel active in COVID response from vaccines to PPE," said Alan Rudolph, the Vice President of Research at CSU. 

PPE is in such high demand right now the State of Colorado is turning to companies in China and around the world to place orders in an effort to keep doctors and nurses at our hospitals safe.

Rudolph and his team of researchers have been tasked by Governor Jared Polis to test masks, gowns and other PPE that comes into the state before it’s put to use. As factories around the world switch their supply chains to produce PPE, Colorado wants to make sure what we’re getting is safe.

"We don’t want to put an unsafe product in anybody’s hands. Even when a box from China says it’s qualified for N95 use, I think it’s prudent to test," said Rudolph. "We’ve tested a half dozen or more manufacturers and we’ll continue to test based on what the state tells us."

On Wednesday, Polis announced the state ordered 2.5 million N95 masks, 1 million surgical masks, and 1.5 million gloves. He put the focus on researchers at CSU to make sure they’re up to standard.

"We want to verify that the masks work and are not counterfeit before we pay for them," said Polis. "When they arrive on the plane and when our CSU scientists test the masks, test the gloves, then we’ll be able to say that we have them here."

RELATED: How a lack of PPE could be skewing Colorado's COVID-19 numbers

RELATED: A local teacher is 3D-printing face shields for healthcare workers

As the battle continues against an invisible enemy, researchers work to ensure the armor for the doctors and nurses is safe to use.

"The virus is very small," said Rudolph. "So the N95 mask is meant to protect the person from the virus by impeding particle flow."