There are only two major manufacturers of COVID-19 testing swabs in the world and if we’ve learned anything since the beginning of this pandemic, it’s that we need lots of tests.
The federal government is working on enhancing the availability of the particular swabs used in the COVID nasal tests, and as part of the CARES Act, they’ve dedicated more than $51 million to a factory project in Pittsfield, Maine that will allow Puritan Medical Products to expand production.
This will be Puritan’s second swab manufacturing facility in Pittsfield, and it will increase monthly swab manufacturing for the company by the millions, while adding 200 jobs.
While the CARES Act will be completely funding the development, it wouldn’t have been possible without a generous donation from a local family. Lisa Armstrong and Cheryl Remmert, the daughters of the late founder of a manufacturer called San Antonio Shoemakers, have been sitting on an old factory for years since their father’s passing and decided now was the time to use their land to make a difference. So they donated it to Pittsfield’s economic development agency who, in turn, donated the factory and 11 acres of land to the Puritan swab manufacturing project.
The 79,000 square foot shoe factory will be retrofitted in the coming months to ultimately produce 50 million swabs per month and Senator Susan Collins, who spoke recently at the project’s unveiling, called the donation of the factory “a fitting tribute” to a Maine native of “uncommon generosity.”
The factory is expected to be online by January of 2021.