- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Scott Harris has been fielding calls from hospitals, police departments and emergency response stations asking for alcohol amid the coronavirus crisis.

Mr. Harris, co-founder of Catoctin Creek distillery in Purcellville, Virginia, has been eager to oblige, converting 55 gallons of disposal alcohol he already had into hand sanitizer and ordering another 1,000 gallons from his supplier. As one of those with easy access to alcohol, the key ingredient in sanitizer, he says he felt a “moral responsibility” to step up. He’s not alone:

  • More than 575 distillers have volunteered to switch some of their production to hand sanitizer.
  • Congress has done its part to help distilleries. The $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus legislation waives the federal excise tax on drinkable distilled spirits — a hefty $13.50 per proof gallon — clearing the way for producers to turn their product into sanitizer.
  • But there’s still a hiccup. The new law requires distillers to follow FDA rules to get the waiver.
  • House lawmakers over the weekend signed onto a letter begging the FDA to make the necessary changes.
  • “I don’t think the federal government has an understanding of the amount of need,” Mr. Harris said.
  • Sanitizer is in short supply. While health officials say washing hands with soap and water is the best defense against coronavirus, those who don’t have ready access, such as emergency workers and police, rely on alcohol-based hand sanitizer to kill the coronavirus.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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