Pennsylvania Distillery Begins Making Hand Sanitizer Instead of Liquor amid Coronavirus
"The right thing to do is support this community by providing something that is in desperate need," said Eight Oaks Farm Distillery CEO and owner Chad Butters
A distillery in Pennsylvania is doing its part to help local residents stay healthy amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Eight Oaks Farm Distillery CEO and owner Chad Butters announced in a press release on Monday that his company would officially focus their production efforts on making hand sanitizer and cleaning products instead of liquor as the coronavirus continues to rapidly spread around the country.
“We love this community, and we love you,” Butters wrote. “Because we do, we don’t take the situation with Coronavirus lightly, and as it continues to develop it is our responsibility to do what is best for our crew and our community, not by acting out of panic, but out of a sense of what is right.”
Butters said he has already shifted his crew and resources towards the cleaning products and expects to have them available across Lehigh County within the next week, according to the press release.
So far, 20 bottles of hand sanitizer were donated to charities that could not obtain them, and Butters told the Associated Press that he plans on increasing production.
The products will be donated to charities in need, while Butters also said he will sell the bottles on his website and at farmers’ markets around the New Tripoli area for whatever price people feel comfortable paying.
“We are in a national emergency,” Butters told the AP. “What’s the right thing to do? The right thing to do is support this community by providing something that is in desperate need. We’ll flood the valley with hand sanitizer and drive that price right down.”
The staff at Eight Oaks made the hand sanitizer using a formula published by the World Health Organization and spent weeks working with high-proof alcohol, aloe, and glycerine to get the consistency right, according to the outlet.
Locals soon caught wind of their project and began reaching out to Butters, asking if they could obtain a bottle of hand sanitizer as there was either none available in stores or only available for an incredibly high price, the AP reported.
“We’re trying to make sure we continue to provide a paycheck for our employees and support our community however way we can do that,” Butters told the outlet.
In addition to shifting to cleaning products, Butters said on his website that the distillery would no longer offer cocktails or samples in their Tasting Room for now but would have takeout available, and was looking into “delivery options” for nearby residents “to bring our spirits to your door, free of charge.”
“This situation is likely to get worse before it gets better — bars and restaurants around the country are closing, and while we know this may cause uncertainty and frustration, we’ll get through this together,” Butters wrote in the press release.
Eight Oaks is not the only distillery to take action amid the growing concern of the coronavirus.
Green Mountain Distillers in Morrisville, Vermont, and Durham Distillery in Durham, North Carolina, are also joining in to help with the production efforts of hand sanitizer, according to AP.
Green Mountain Distillers is reportedly giving away hand sanitizer, while Durham Distillery is donating the product, made with high-proof alcohol, to those working in hospitality, as long as people come with their own containers.
Smugglers’ Notch Distillery in Vermont is also planning to sell a hand sanitizer this week at its Waterbury and Jeffersonville locations and donate a portion of the proceeds to the state’s coronavirus response efforts, the AP reported.
Per regulations, the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States has been in contact with federal regulatory agencies and the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force — all of which have reportedly been receptive to the projects, according to the AP.
“[We have to] make sure we can be quick and nimble and fill a need in the marketplace,” the council’s chief executive officer Chris Swonger told the outlet. “We all want to do our part.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, there were at least 5,002 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and 93 deaths, according to The New York Times.
While people can use hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol to clean their hands, the CDC ultimately recommends washing your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds to effectively prevent germs from spreading from one person to another.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.