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Newport News medical device company receives highest safety rating for N95 surgical masks

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Posted at 2:20 PM, Nov 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-25 11:16:17-05

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - As the COVID-19 pandemic lingers on, so to is the need for PPE for our men and women on the front lines.

Which is why it is the main focus for a Newport News manufacturing facility making the only N95 respirators in the Commonwealth.

When you enter the bright white sparkling clean manufacturing site, a screeching grinding noise is a bit deafening. While its not music to anyone's ears, each stitch is the sound of safety.

"We do 100 percent inline quality inspection, 40 looking at every respirator coming off the line," said COO Jaclyn Lautz with IvWatch and Blox.

It's not just a mask being produced, but an N95 respirator. "The surgical N95 respirator is of the highest quality as far as product testing required," she said.

It's the safest around. Just last week the company, called Blox, received approval from the National Insitute for Occupational Safety for its product. They received a NIOSH rating.

It's a very rare accolade meaning when you put the respirator on, you are about as safe as it gets from airborne contaminates and bodily fluids.

"There are only a handful approved in U.S of that only half are domestic manufacturers," said Lautz.

The company pivoted last year to making the N95's as the pandemic ramped up. "With the height of COVID pandemic, we looked at how we could address an unmet need," said Lautz.

They had all the proper tools to get the ball rolling with their first company called IVwatch.

"You place this sensor near the IV site," said Lautz.

The company made sensors to go on patient IV's that detect problems like leaks and clogs.

While they are still churning those out, now they are making 15,000 to 20,000 N95 respirators a day, this as COVID-19 cases continue to inundate hospitals across the nation.

Something else unique about these masks is they are backed by an efficacy testing scan bar code so you can see just how safe your mask is before putting it on.

"We are making something not just so valuable during pandemic and COVID but a product that has a market need before and after," said Lautz