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Daily COVID-19 Updates: April 21

April 21, 2020
Adapting to Now and After COVID-19; FDA Issues Authorization for At-Home Virus Test; Manufacturers Doing Their Part

Members of the Senate today passed another relief package intended to shore up the small business loan program, which was rapidly depleted following its implementation in the March 31 CARES stimulus act. The latest package will add $484 billion to the fund, which originally began with $349 billion. The original sum was rapidly drained by both large and small businesses. The latest package stipulates that $60 billion of the money be set aside for smaller businesses which typically have trouble getting loans, as well as $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion for ramping up coronavirus testing.

The House is expected to pass the bill shortly, and the President is further expected to sign the bill on Thursday. Still in the works is another large stimulus bill which would cost upwards of $1 trillion, to add to the over $3 trillion CARES act passed earlier in the year.

FDA Issues Emergency Authorization for At-Home Test

The Food and Drug Association issued an emergency use authorization to LabCorp’s COVID-19 test. LabCorp’s test is notable in that it utilizes a nasal swab that patients can use to collect samples from their own nasal passages. The samples are then mailed to LabCorp labs where they will be tested for the novel coronavirus. The FDA has issued more than 50 emergency use authorizations for coronavirus tests as government officials scramble to ramp up national testing capacity. Read the full story here.

Adapting to the Virus and the New Normal to Come

The coronavirus has hammered the ability of most factories to continue production while still keeping workers safe. Dominik Wee, Managing Director of manufacturing, industrial and transportation at Google Cloud has advice for how manufacturers can use AI to help manufacturers increase transparency and operational efficiency with better monitoring and more precise controls. Read the full story here.

Artem Kroupenev, VP of strategy at Augury, predicts that the short-term measures put in place to fight the coronavirus are likely to lead to long-term shifts in how people conduct business and run factories. “Manufacturers who understand and act on this new normal,” he says,” will have ample opportunities for growth.” Among Kroupenev’s predictions for what will come after coronavirus: the revival of automated domestic manufacturing, decoupling supply chains, digitization as a competitive advantage, and the rise of what he calls the “virtual shift.” Read the full story here.

Manufacturers Doing Their Part

Metalcraft Solutions in Akron, Ohio, was running on half of its former workforce when the call came from Ohio governor Mike Dewine for all able manufacturers to turn their factories into ad-hoc PPE plants. In collaboration with MAGNET, Northeast Ohio’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership, Metalcraft Solutions was able to get a supply chain for face shields up arnd running within two weeks. Read the full story here.

Professors and students in the Department of Energy’s EIPCS traineeship program signed up for a training program meant to prepare them for careers in intelligent manufacturing systems. Now, they’re currently designing and producing their own low-cost, efficient, cleanable facial shields. The two-part shields are made using 3D printing and injection molding. Reportedly, the team can manufacture up to 1,000 frames per hour. Read the full story here.

Draganfly Inc., a technology manufacturer which makes unmanned aerial vehicles and remote control aircraft, announced today a will launch a fleet of “pandemic drones” in Westport, Connecticut, a COVID-19 “hotspot.” The drones will use sensors and computer systems that can detect peoples’ temperatures, heart and respiratory rates, and according to Draganfly can “accurately detect infectious conditions” from 190 feet away.  The city of Westport plans to use the drones to help protect seniors as well as crowds.

Spartech, a plastic sheet and packaging solution company, announced April 20 they would supply clear plastic materials to Duo Form, a Michigan-based company which is manufacturing safety shields and intubation boxes for medical professionals fighting the coronavirus.

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