LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – With healthcare providers facing a major surgical mask shortage nationwide because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Food and Drug Administration Sunday gave emergency authorization to a new N95 mask sterilization process provided by an Irvine company which could allow hospitals nationwide to sterilize and reuse millions of masks on a daily basis.

Previously worn N95 protective masks, saved for possible recycling in the future, sit in baskets in the ICU of MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital on April 8, 2020 in Leonardtown, Md. (Getty Images)

The FDA announced Sunday that it had approved the use of a vaporized hydrogen peroxide gas plasma sterilization process to Irvine-based medical device instrument company Advanced Sterilization Products (ASP).

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The FDA gave ASP an emergency use authorization allowing its STERRAD machines to be used to sterilize N95 masks.

About 6,300 hospitals nationwide already have STERRAD machines, the FDA said, and the new authorization will potentially allow for these hospitals to sterilize about four million N95 masks per day nationwide.

This authorization will help provide access to millions of respirators so our health care workers on the front lines can be better protected and provide the best care to patients with COVID-19,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said in a statement.

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On Saturday, dozens of nurses protested outside of Providence St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica over allegations the hospital is not providing them enough personal protective equipment (PPE).

A nurse at West Hills Hospital in L.A. told CBS2 last week he was suspended for posting on Facebook asking the public for donations of PPE.

The CEO of St. John’s Well Child and Family Center, which has several community clinics across L.A. serving low-income residents, told CBS2 that he has had to strike a deal with a Chinese company in order to get masks and gowns for his staff.

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One Burbank dentist is using 3D printers to make masks for fellow medical professionals.