Flyover Country fights the pandemic
A special report from:
Making touch screens safer
Image by Zyabich for Shutterstock
Touch screens are the main means of accessing content in the digital world. But until COVID, most of us didn’t realize just how problematic they could be.
Michigan-based TES America, which designs touch displays for the interactive display market, is experimenting with ways to keep them safe for users during COVID. They’ve developed a technology that brings user interaction off the surface. The technology lets users come within a couple of centimeters from the screen and interact without touching the surface.
The company has also experimented with displaying QR codes on screens that many people touch. It lets users to manipulate the cursor but using their own device instead of the screen.
Pittsburgh’s LifeAire Systems was created to purify air during In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) procedures. The tech company was created by embryologist Kathryn C. Worrilow, PhD, who discovered that one of the negative influences of the IVF lab environment was the ambient air surrounding the process. The company set its sights on how air is moved and filtered throughout buildings.
When COVID made its debut, Dr. Worrilow pivoted for the cause, and her company adapted its existing technology for use against the spread of the virus. Hospitals and nursing homes now use the system to clear air and surfaces. In addition, thanks to a $100,000 state grant, the technology has rolled out to dental offices, workspaces, and schools. The company has also developed the technology to decontaminate N-95 masks, cleaning more than 1,600 in a single day.
Ohio University targets COVID RNA
Researchers at Ohio University have published results of a study that has identified a potential target for anti-viral drugs to fight COVID. The team, led by Dr. Jennifer Hines, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, has focused on a section of the COVID-19 viral RNA called the stem-loop II motif.
The current COVID vaccines give cells instructions to make a small piece of protein, which then triggers an immune response that protects a person if exposed to the real virus.
The stem-loop II motif that the team has isolated is a part of the virus’ RNA that tends to not evolve. So the team’s logic is that if they can target that section of the RNA with an anti-virus, they can disrupt its ability to reproduce.
A new look at donor plasma
We could be months away from having the COVID-19 vaccine fully distributed, so doctors at the Mayo Clinic are promoting plasma treatment until then. Their study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed that antibody-rich donor plasma can lower the death rate among hospitalized patients by 25%. Patients who received plasma within three days of diagnosis didn’t have to be placed on ventilators.
The preliminary findings convinced the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to grant emergency use of the plasma as an inpatient therapy. HealthPartners in Bloomington, MN is part of a national study to examine whether plasma can be used as an outpatient treatment to prevent COVID-19 patients from needing hospital care.
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