COBB COUNTY, Ga. — The U.S. government is asking a metro Atlanta county to work with a facility it recently closed as the need for sterilized medical equipment grows around the United States.
In a letter from Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, he asked on behalf of the FDA that Governor Brian Kemp and Cobb County help the country battle COVID-19 "by working with Sterigenics to allow for the appropriate sterilization of PPE."
Sterigenics, which has a plant in Cobb County just outside of Smyrna, had previously come under fire for the release of ethylene oxide - a chemical linked to some forms of cancer. The chemical is also key in the process of sterilizing medical products.
Sterigenics has been installing new emission control equipment at its Cobb County facility. However, the facility was forced to close during the process amid continued public concern and the request of Governor Kemp and the Environmental Protection Division.
The coronavirus pandemic, however, has since put a severe strain on sanitized medical equipment supplies across the country.
"As part of FDA's ongoing and aggressive commitment to address the coronavirus outbreak, we continue to keep a strong focus on facilitating the development of medical products, surveilling the global supply chain, and working with state and local officials to ensure the necessary supplies are available to care for and protect our most vulnerable populations," Hahn said.