GUILFORD, Maine — Puritan Medical Products, a medical supplies manufacturer based in Guilford, has been awarded $51.2 million to expand its COVID-19 flock tip testing swab production. Senator Susan Collins announced the funding on Friday.
The Puritan facility was the main focus of President Donald Trump's visit to Maine on June 5. In reference to the swabs Puritan makes, Trump said at the time, "I shouldn't be telling you this, I use it every other day."
The $51.2 million was funded through the CARES Act and will be used to significantly increase production of flock tip swabs to 50 million per month.
This builds on a $75.5 million contract awarded to Puritan in April, which was used to double production of foam swabs to 40 million per month. Together, these contracts bring Puritan’s total production of flock tip swabs and foam swabs to at least 90 million per month as well as allow the company to hire additional employees.
“This substantial investment at Puritan is going to make a real difference in the lives of people in Maine and throughout the country. Increasing the production of COVID-19 swabs to at least 90 million per month will provide a tremendous boost to testing efforts, helping to reduce the spread of the virus and allowing us to safely reopen communities,” Senator Susan Collins said. “I commend Puritan’s hardworking employees, and I am proud that this manufacturing that is so critical to the health of our nation is happening right here in our great state.”
The CARES Act included $1 billion for the Defense Production Act in order to increase domestic production capacity for materials necessary to combat COVID-19 as well as more than $140 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services to combat COVID-19. This new award was funded from appropriations provided to HHS by the CARES Act.
Back in June, Trump toured the facility and then spoke in front of about 150 Puritan employees.
Some Puritan employees shared their thoughts and what it was like as he toured the facility and congratulated the workers for their efforts.
"It was amazing!," said Diedra Dow, an operator and assistant production coordinator at Puritan.
"It was surreal!" said Priscilla Widen from the Puritan First Aid team.
Arne Halvorsen has been working making COVID-19 swabs for 3 months.
"I actually have a full-time job, they put a sign up in the middle of town looking for help," said Halvorsen.
Halvorsen told NEWS CENTER Maine the country is in a crisis and helping by making critically needed swabs was the way he could help out.