Kroger offers milk, eggs...and at-home COVID-19 tests
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Soon, Kroger customers and employees will be able to add COVID-19 testing to their shopping lists. Kroger Health, the grocery giant’s healthcare division, is offering home test kits and plans to process more than 60,000 tests per week by the end of July. The kits are available now to Kroger employees and testing will roll out to other companies and organizations in the coming weeks.
To qualify for testing, patients will need to meet clinical criteria for likely infection or exposure. Health care pros at Kroger will screen patients via a company website and send a kit to those who qualify. The kit includes a nasal swab, a vial, and instructions on how to proceed.
Once the kit arrives, patients will collect the sample under the supervision of a professional via video chat, then ship the vial back to Kroger. Results will be available within 48 hours. Healthcare professionals will reach out to those who test positive with a recommended course of action.
Kroger is not new to COVID-19 testing. The company has offered drive-thru and walk-up testing since April. In that time, the company has administered more than 100,000 tests in 19 states. The at-home telehealth tests will be especially helpful to people who don’t drive or don’t live near a test site.
Iowa State works on virus detection strip
A team of chemists at Iowa State University is developing a urine test strip that can detect the presence of coronavirus. According to the project leader, Robbyn Anand, an assistant chemistry professor at the university, the test has to be “10 to 1,000 times more sensitive than a pregnancy test.”
To increase the test’s sensitivity, the team is using electrokinetics—electric fields that can isolate and manipulate charged particles. Anand has been working with electrokinetics since 2004.
The test, which should work with either urine or saliva samples, has the potential to deliver fast results and could be performed at home, at work, or in a doctor’s office.
The project is being supported by a one-year, $55,000 grant from Tucson-based Research Corporation for Science Advancement, which has provided grants for six other COVID-19 research initiatives.
KSTC seeks catalysts for innovation and entrepreneurship
Entrepreneur and AOL founder Steve Case saw the need and opportunity to foster economic growth in mid-sized cities across the U.S. With the Rise of the Rest initiative, Case and a team of investors travel the country, forging relationships and helping build the next wave of innovation.
The Kentucky Science & Technology Corporation (KSTC) is looking to hire someone who can help build that wave in Kentucky.
KSTC, an independent and innovative nonprofit leader in developing and managing creative initiatives in education, entrepreneurship, and science & technology based economic competitiveness, is looking for an Executive Director to lead the Kentucky Commercialization Ventures program.
Both the opportunity and expectation to make a significant impact on Kentucky’s economic growth is great. The Executive Director will develop and execute commercialization services with universities across Kentucky. Success will be driven by building strong relationships at these institutions and leveraging the entrepreneurial and investment programs at partner organizations to rapidly network, develop, and commercialize research and intellectual assets at participating schools.
This role requires expertise across a variety of industries as well as the ability to be a bridge between academia and business. "Kentucky is the heart of America. We exist at the nexus of urban and rural. We have an opportunity to fuel our state industries, expand entrepreneurship, and enrich our culture. Are you up to the challenge?”, asks KSTC Vice President Rick Johnson.
Additional details can be found here.
To apply, please email your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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OSU researchers working to automate contact tracing using cellphones
Contact tracing has long been a strategy to help control the spread of disease, but with COVID-19 the process has been a challenge—particularly because those who become ill may have been presymptomatic or asymptomatic before they knew they were sick, potentially infecting large numbers of people.
Technologists around the world have been working on solutions to make the tracing easier and more effective, including researchers at Ohio State University. The team is exploring a possible way to send ultrasonic signals between cellphone microphones and speakers to automate contact tracing within a certain radius.
Ness Shroff, Ohio Eminent Scholar in networking and communications, is leading the effort with the goal of returning to full operations at OSU. “It’s hard for people to remember who they had contact with, and augmenting manual contact tracing with automated techniques could greatly increase its reliability.”
AI and machine learning power COVID-19 chatbot
A Raleigh company has developed a COVID-19 chatbot that harnesses the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning to inform people about the virus. PRA Health Sciences, a contract research organization in the health care field, partnered with Microsoft to develop the service. The chatbot is integrated into the company’s PRA Health Harmony digital platform and mobile app.
People who use the chatbot can track their symptoms, learn about the disease, and make informed decisions about how to proceed. There are three levels of support. There’s an educational level for asymptomatic people, which tracks vital signs and offers prevention techniques and mental health support. A quarantine level explains how best to understand the threat and addresses feelings of fear and isolation. The program connects those who are struggling with healthcare professionals. And a monitoring level, for those who are COVID-positive but not hospitalized, provides information on symptom management, along with monitoring by a healthcare pro.
The PRA product runs on Microsoft Healthcare Bot, a plain-language, conversational chat service that uses AI to interact with patients.
Studying public health messaging about COVID-19
University of Missouri-St. Louis researchers have embarked on a project to study how public health information is communicated in “under-resourced” St. Louis communities. The team will look at how factors such as lack of broadband access, poverty, disability, and English proficiency play into health outcomes in those neighborhoods. The researchers hope to determine how residents are being informed about COVID-19 and whether that messaging has helped them stay healthier and locate testing centers.
Team members come from a diverse assortment of disciplines, including sociology, philosophy, political science, psychological sciences, and communication and media. They received a $1,000 grant from CONVERGE, an initiative funded by the National Science Foundation, to get things rolling. They plan to use the funding to launch some pilot projects and attract larger grants.
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