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Texas Companies Are Repurposing To Help Fight COVID-19

As Texas and the U.S. face a shortage of protective medical gear and cleaning supplies due to COVID-19, companies across the state are repurposing their operations to help meet demand.

A chocolate factory in northeast Texas is using its plastic packaging to make face shields, while a Dallas-based leather furniture company is now sewing face masks. And distilleries across the state like Tito’s Handmade Vodka in Austin and Gulf Coast Distillers in Houston’s East End are producing hand sanitizer.

For Carlos de Aldecoa, President and CEO of Gulf Coast Distillers, making hand sanitizer was a natural fit because it uses ethanol, which they use to make their spirits, like vodka and bourbon.

“The feedstock was there, the processing facility was there; it was just a matter of being able to produce it and blend it in such a way that it had to be denatured, which means that it’s not for human consumption,” he said.
This somewhat straightforward transition is why so many distilleries in Texas and across the U.S. have been rushing to make hand sanitizer. In response, the government relaxed permitting requirements, allowing distilleries to manufacture sanitizer without needing an additional permit.

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