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WKSU, our public radio partners in Ohio and across the region and NPR are all continuing to work on stories on the latest developments with the coronavirus and COVID-19 so that we can keep you informed.

From Vodka To Sanitizer, Lakewood Distillery Shifts To Meet COVID-19 Demand

Leaders including President Trump are calling on companies to begin manufacturing medical supplies due to national shortages. One local company is switching gears from vodka to sanitizer.

Western Reserve Distillers in Lakewood is now taking pre-orders for hand sanitizer from nursing homes, hospitals and the general public.

Co-owner Kevin Thomas said the company already has the materials needed to distill the high proof alcohol for sanitizer. They received approval from the U.S. Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) earlier this week to begin production of the World Health Organization’s recipe.

“We knew we had the base raw materials. We knew there was a shortage in the marketplace," he said. "We just made a personal decision to switch over.”

But Thomas said the business currently does not have the right FDA registration to be considered a compounding facility. He said they’re doing their best to comply with all laws.

The distillery continues to sell bottles of liquor out of its Distillery Bar, and the restaurant attached to the distillery is continuing to make meals available for pickup or delivery.

He said so far, it hasn’t been a difficult switch for the company to make.

“It’s not a big deal,” he said. “It’s more just about adjusting our production schedule.”

The first batch of the hand sanitizer will be released April 3.

According to the company’s Eventbrite page, distillery employees will bring orders out to customers and place them in their vehicle in order to comply with social distancing. In addition, the company said it will donate a percentage of the proceeds to the Bartender Emergency Assistance Program to assist those in the service industry who may be unemployed due to business closures related to COVID-19.

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