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Mr. Rogers has advised us in times like these to, “Look for the helpers.” With the spread of Coronavirus affecting businesses large and small, we thought it might be a good time to highlight how many of them are taking adversity and turning it into innovation.
You’ve probably heard about a number of manufacturers who are re-tooling, service providers who are expanding their offerings, and companies that are keeping the lights on by coming up with new ways to do business. Here are some of the interesting ideas and stories we’ve heard about companies who are doing their part to impact the COVID-19 pandemic.
Forbes is reporting that James Dyson, the billionaire inventor behind Dyson’s vacuums and hand dryers, is turning his attention to producing ventilators for hospitals in the UK. The most remarkable part of this story is that his engineering team apparently designed and tested a new ventilator design in just 10 days. And Dyson is not alone in their mad dash to produce more, faster, and less expensive ventilators. They are joined by electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla and current ventilator producers GE and Ventec, all of which are re-tooling and reimagining the manufacturing process for this vital piece of equipment.
It seems like the recommendations on wearing or not wearing face masks is shifting. While the CDC initially said masks weren’t necessary unless you were sick or treating COVID-19 patients, they are reexamining this and may ask everyone to wear some kind of face covering.
N95 masks are in very short supply and are unlikely to be widely available to the public, though Honeywell and 3M are ramping up production. However, textiles and clothing companies are stepping up to create basic medical masks instead of their usual products. Hanes and Fruit of the Loom are two of the notable examples. Along with several other textile industry heavy-hitters, these companies expect to be able to churn out 10 million masks a week for distribution in the United States and Central America.
You’ve heard recommendations that we use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol to sanitize our hands when venturing out in public. Unfortunately, many folks in need cannot find hand sanitizers in stores or for ordering online. We heard of one local nursing home in Salt Lake City near Artemis Health headquarters who called a distillery to ask about getting sanitizer. They had heard that distilleries were converting production to sanitizer and wondered if they could buy directly to avoid long lines and low supply.
The makers of spirits all around the world are using the same ethanol created during the distillation process and repurposing it into hand sanitizer that does meet the CDC requirements.
The list of distilleries who have converted their production lines over to hand sanitizer is too long to include here, but suffice it to say that Artemis employees are proud of their local distillers for doing their part. Take a look at the Distilled Spirits Council’s interactive map to find out if your favorite whiskey producer, gin distiller, or vodka brand is contributing to the efforts to stop COVID-19.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Project Manus has developed a die-cut, disposable face shield for use by medical professionals treating COVID-19 patients. The clear plastic barrier is meant to extend the life of other personal protective equipment, like N95 masks and eye protection.
They aren’t alone in developing innovative face shields. Ski manufacturers are also taking on this challenge, including Shaggy’s Copper Country Skis in Michigan and DPS Skis in Salt Lake City. The equipment they normally use to cut out the base materials for skis is perfectly suited to cutting out plastic parts for facemasks. These innovations will not only help keep the doors open for these small outdoor companies, but will also enable healthcare professionals to protect themselves when treating COVID-19 patients.
Teachers are struggling with remote education tools during Coronavirus pandemic, and software solutions are popping up to help them. Zoom is giving free basic licenses to teachers so they can conduct classes through video calls.
Zoom isn’t the only tech company stepping up. Apple has developed a COVID-19 resource site to help people check themselves for symptoms, and they have thus far sourced and donated 10 million masks to hospitals. Additionally, Microsoft is putting its data analytics capabilities to work with a series of projections around the spread of COVID-19 and the resources needed to cope with the illness.
Locally in Artemis’ hometown, many high-tech business leaders are collaborating with the COVID-19 taskforce, the governor’s office, health systems, and local laboratories to offer diagnostic tools and pop-up testing through the TestUtah.com Initiative, which aims to test everyone in the state.
Numerous companies with large-scale 3-D printing capacities are creating parts for ventilators, oxygen valves, masks, and even nasal swabs to ease the shortages of these supplies around the world. HP, Siemens, Northwell Health, and many others are using their equipment in unique ways to help hospitals and healthcare providers treat patients.
It’s not just big businesses either. A number of smaller companies and even individuals are using their 3-D printers to help others.
This smart thermometer company made waves in the New York Times with a report that its real-time data showed a slowing of new fevers around the U.S. With a million thermometers in circulation, Kinsa has a pretty large data set to draw on, and their conclusion is that social distancing measures are working. They are continuing to track new hot spots and believe that the best way to fight the spread of the novel Coronavirus is to see where it’s happening in real time.
There are hundreds of other companies out there doing their best to keep workers safe, maintain their core business, and expand and innovate to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic. From grocery store chains helping workers and customers stay safe to prestigious chefs feeding hospital workers and beleaguered cruise ship passengers, there are so many helpers out there.
Artemis is trying to do its part, too. We have dedicated Analytic Advisors helping our customers assess the risk to their employee populations and clinical experts who are crunching the numbers, finding insights, and trying to predict costs. If you’d like to learn more about our efforts, please visit our COVID-19 Resource Center.