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As soon as the coronavirus pandemic hit, Hotel Tango Distillery in Indiana — the first combat-disabled, veteran-owned distillery in America — stopped making liquor and started making hand sanitizer.
Travis Barnes, its founder, said: “This started as a way to give back and assist some local folks in need, but it became clear right away that we needed to scale up fast if we wanted to help in any substantial manner.”
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Hotel Tango, founded in 2013, also operates two tasting rooms, and suddenly with the state mandate to stop dine-in visits for bars and restaurants, Barnes created a manufacturing line from his staff, now with new, alternative jobs.
“Our ability to get mobilized as a team and start filling bottles in less than 48 hours is something I am personally very proud of, because that has allowed us to keep our team employed while also providing a vital product to businesses in need,” Barnes said.
He learned it all from his military service.
Barnes, a Marine veteran, served three tours during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Seeing extensive combat, his missions included knock-and-talks, IED interdiction, ambush/counter-ambush and direct-action raids on high-value targets.
He served as a Team Leader in Charlie Company, Second Platoon during his third tour.
The artisan distillery, the first to open in Indianapolis since Prohibition, has produced more than 2,000 gallons since mid-March, when the first run of sanitizer was bottled.
Hotel Tango sent its sanitizer to more than 30 Indiana locations on the frontlines, from medical facilities to deployed military units.
Thirty more Indiana residents have died from COVID-19, pushing the state’s death toll during the pandemic past 200 as its confirmed coronavirus cases neared 6,000, state health officials said Wednesday.
The 30 new deaths reported Wednesday raised Indiana’s deaths to 203 and represented the second-largest tally of deaths the Indiana State Department of Health has reported to date in its daily pandemic updates, following the 34 deaths it reported Tuesday.
The department has said that the additional deaths it reports each day occurred over multiple days.
Hand sanitizer has been a valuable — and hard to find — tool in the COVID-19 fight.
One of the best ways to prevent spreading the virus is washing your hands with soap and water. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends first washing with warm or cold water and then lathering soap for 20 seconds, and getting it on the backs of hands, between fingers and under fingernails before rinsing off.
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Barnes is grateful to give back and for all the help he’s gotten along the way.
“I’m most proud of the people on our staff, there hasn’t been any hesitation from day one. We’ve seen people step up every day in extraordinary ways. I hope we can continue to help each other, support our neighbors and come out of this thing stronger than before,” he added.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.