Positive News Bites

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IBM launches Weather Channel map to track coronavirus

As the coronavirus causes uncertainty in our daily lives, we are all looking for data to help us make more informed decisions and check on our family and friends in different areas. With that in mind, we feel it’s critical to provide the most trusted information currently available to help people stay informed on the reach of COVID-19. The Weather Channel is now providing COVID-19 data – so you can see why social distancing matters in your community and why it’s important to heed instructions from your local, state and national resources.

– Cameron Clayton, General Manager, The Weather Company

The US Food and Drug Administration has approved a coronavirus test that can deliver a diagnosis in 15 minutes.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued Emergency Use Authorization for a new coronavirus test that takes just 15 minutes to complete.

The test’s maker, Abbott, announced the news in a press release, saying it plans to start delivering 50,000 tests per day starting next week. 

Abbott will run the tests on its point-of-care ID NOW platform, a portable platform that weighs less than 7 pounds and can be deployed to coronavirus hotspots. The company said it expects to produce about 5 million tests per month. 

It marks one of the fastest tests for COVID-19 available and comes just a week after the FDA approved another 45-minute rapid point-of-care test.

Volunteer group develops a COVID-19 testing location database for the U.S.

The effort to combat the spread of the coronavirus pandemic globally relies on testing as a core component of the current strategy, which primarily focuses on isolating individuals to slow the transmission of COVID 19 and give researchers time to develop potential treatments and vaccines.

That said, this database, which was built by a team of around 15 developers working remotely one the course of just one week, should be viewed as a potential resource to inform those working on the country’s emergency response and COVID 19 mitigation strategy, or efforts to ensure that testing is available across the country in a way that accurately addresses population needs, and that can provide a full picture of the extent of the actual virus spread.

CDC launches coronavirus bot to help take strain off healthcare system

The bot, known as Clara, utilizes Microsoft’s Azure Healthcare Bot framework, which the government agency hopes will help allay the fears of people who believe they may have the virus.

“Microsoft’s Healthcare Bot service is one solution that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to help the CDC and other frontline organizations respond to these inquiries, freeing up doctors, nurses, administrators and other healthcare professionals to provide critical care to those who need it, “Microsoft wrote in a statement in conjunction with the CDC announcement.

Southern Oregon Public Schools and Maker Spaces using 3D printers to make N-95 masks

The COVID Skunkworks team began their efforts on Sunday, March 22nd, in Southern Oregon, when an engineer reached out to the local hospital to offer help with manufacturing ventilator parts. The hospital approved of the effort, so by 4:30 pm Monday evening, 35 local experts and doctors were on a conference call learning straight from the hospital what the needs were.

The team is organized using the Slack messaging platform where separate channels focus conversations for each product that needs support. The initial needs were face shields, n95 masks, iso masks, iso gowns, and ventilator manifolds. The group chose team leads to begin each effort, and by the next morning, 3d printers around the valley were ramping up production of prototypes. Parts were delivered to doctors that very day, and immediate approvals have allowed face shields to begin production right away.

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