WORCESTER , Mass. - Clark University senior Ethan Lutz was deployed to New York City in March to help battle the coronavirus pandemic as an EMT.
It was then he realized the paper bags storing his N95 masks weren't safe.
Lutz said, "Paper bags can actually harbor the coronavirus for up to 24 hours. So if you imagine a situation where you're only using your N95 with coronavirus patients, you're putting it in and out of that bag throughout the day."
It's why he created the Pennywise PPE Protection bag.
The copper-lined tote aims to prevent cross-contamination, and provide a safe place to store a mask.
Lutz said, "It goes all the way back to the Phoenicians. They used to shave their bronze swords into their wounds after battle to sterilize their wounds. If you look to ancient India, water was stored in copper vats and even today, is drank out of copper mugs because of it's anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties."
Anyone can buy the bag, but Lutz says it's geared towards first responders who are working in the field.
"We're not advertising that this is going to sterilize your mask. What we're saying is current storage solutions for PPE are not adequate and leave providers open to preventable infection," Lutz said.
Lutz says he's concerned with the amount of PPE available in the U.S. moving forward, especially as the country is in the midst of a second surge.
Lutz said, "When everybody's trying to get it, it makes it too expensive to outfit your lowest level providers. In this time, it's even more essential to make sure to store your PPE safely."
Lutz says Pennywise PPE is working on other products, including a bag which would sterilize N95 masks in roughly one minute.
For more information on the bags you can visit pennywiseppe.com.