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Veteran-owned distillery making hand sanitizer during coronavirus pandemic: 'We view this as our civic duty'

The founders of Desert Door sotol distillery in Texas have turned to producing hand sanitizer that is being donated to first responders, retirement centers and health care workers during the COVID-19 crisis.

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"Right now, we view this as our civic duty," co-founder Judson Kauffman told “Fox & Friends” Monday

The novel coronavirus pandemic has led to higher demand for hand sanitizer and a shortage of supply.

“There is only a small number of organizations in the United States that have the equipment required to make hand sanitizer," Kauffman, a Navy veteran, explained. "We are one of those organizations and so we viewed it as an obligation to serve the community.

“We see the first responders out there, many of them coming to our distillery to pick up hand sanitizer and they are very afraid, but they still have the courage to get up every day and go and risk their health and in some cases their lives to do what’s right,” Kauffman continued. “What has always made this country a great place to be is when times are tough, people come together, people step up and we’re just part of that culture.”

Kauffman said his co-founders started discussing making hand sanitizer a couple of weeks ago, since making the product involves “special equipment, namely distillation equipment and that’s our business.”

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“Normally it requires a special permit to make hand sanitizer,” said Kauffman, who added that he knew hand sanitizer was in high demand.

“Then last week, thankfully, the federal government lifted those restrictions and now allows all distilleries across the country to make and distribute hand sanitizer. So, as of last Wednesday, we have stopped making booze and we’re strictly making hand sanitizer and giving it away to those who need it,” he said.

Kauffman said at first, the hand sanitizer was distributed to first responders in Austin, Texas, but he was soon taking requests from across the state.

“So at this point we have given thousands of bottles away to [the] Austin police department, [the] San Antonio police department, the hospice care group, sheriff's departments in several counties, also [the] Houston police department,” he said.

“We ran out of bottles so now we’re giving it in bulk by the gallon to the city of Austin and we’re going to keep making more until the demand curve flattens a little bit, until some of the big producers can get back on step and start getting hand sanitizer out en masse,” Kauffman continued.

“A huge shout out and thank you to Desert Door Distillery in Driftwood TX for producing and donating 1000 bottles of hand sanitizer to the Austin Police Department," Austin Police Chief Brian Manley. "Great community partner!”

Desert Door Distillery is covering the cost of the bottles at the moment because according to Kauffman, “that was the fastest way to get it done.”

“A lot of restaurants and bars, that represents about a third of our business, and they’re shut down right now. And our tasting room, which employs a lot of folks, is also shut down, so this is a great way for us to stay busy and to give us a good purpose and help the team come together,” Kauffman said. “We’re doing our part in the community and we feel like a lot of other folks are.”

“We’re following the lead of organizations and individuals across the country who normally don’t see themselves as leaders necessarily, but have stepped up and shown courage and are doing what they can and this is our small way to do what we can,” he continued.

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For more information on how you can help Desert Door with their hand sanitizer production efforts visit their website.