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Mass. awards $9.5M in grants to businesses making PPE; 82 more deaths reported


In this May 5, 2020, photo, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker speaks during a news conference held after a tour of the Merrow Manufacturing plant during the coronavirus pandemic in Fall River, Mass. (Stuart Cahill/Boston Herald via AP, Pool)

BOSTON (WPRI) — Manufacturing facilities in Massachusetts reopened earlier this week, and the state’s emergency response team has awarded $9.5 million in grants to some that have shifted their operations to produce personal protective equipment.

The funding, which will be dispersed to 15 manufacturers across Massachusetts, was made possible by the state’s Manufacturing Emergency Response Team (M-ERT).

“Given the demand for materials and protective equipment critical to combating COVID-19, these grants provide the necessary support the Commonwealth’s manufacturers need to pivot operations and increase capacity to meet that demand,” Gov. Charlie Baker said.

“As we continue to fight this virus, this production will support frontline workers and help facilitate our phased approach to reopen Massachusetts,” he continued.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported an additional 82 deaths Thursday, bringing the state’s total to 6,148. More than 1,100 new cases were also reported, though the rate of positive tests has been trending downward in the state and the number of patients in the hospital has held steady.

Full breakdown of Thursday’s COVID-19 data (Mass.gov) »

Thirteen of the companies that received funding are making face masks – both N-95 respirators and surgical masks – as well as gowns, ventilators, swabs and transport media. The other two companies are testing various PPE products before they are distributed.

The Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA) in Cambridge is one of those facilities. The M-ERT awarded AOFFA $500,000, which will allow the company to continue testing PPE products before they are distributed to healthcare workers and first responders.

“I have no doubt that investments made by M-ERT and its manufacturing partners will not only help us get through this pandemic but will have a lasting impact on our emergency preparedness as a state and as a nation,” Chief Executive Director of AFFOA Sasha Stolyarov said.

Grant applications are still being considered by M-ERT on a rolling basis.

For more information on COVID-19 in Massachusetts, visit Mass.gov, call 211 or text COVIDMA or COVIDMAESP (Spanish) to 888-777 to receive text notifications.

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