Guilford’s Puritan Medical Products has received a federal contract of up to $51 million to ramp up manufacturing of nasal swabs used to test for COVID-19.

The new award builds on a $75.5 million contract it received in April to double production of foam swabs to about 40 million per month.

With the new contract, Puritan expects to hire more employees and increase production to around 90 million swabs per month, according to a July news release from the U.S. Department of Defense.

A Puritan representative did not respond to an interview request Friday. In a blog post on its website, Puritan said it runs three 10-hour shifts, seven days a week, to maximize production and has completed a new manufacturing space.

“We’re excited to announce that the plant was retrofitted in record time and we are in the early stages of production,” the company said. “As we add employees and come fully up to speed in the days ahead, we will ultimately be able to more than double our output.”

The company in April said it needed to add employees to its 300-person workforce to keep up with demand for its products.

Puritan is one of only two companies in the world – and the only in the U.S. – that produce large amounts of the foam-tipped swabs preferred for nasal testing for COVID-19.

The contract in April allowed the company to retrofit industrial space in Pittsfield to make more swabs and hire more workers. General Dynamics-owned companies based in Maine, including Bath Iron Works, built machines for the medical company to boost production.

“This substantial investment at Puritan is going to make a real difference in the lives of the people of Maine and throughout the country,” Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said in a news release Friday.

Collins said the earlier funding, through the Defense Production Act, created 150 jobs at Puritan. The recent award comes from CARES Act funding through the U.S Department of Health and Human Services.

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