Monday, March 30, 2020

Lights shining in the darkness

   Mixed in with the constant flood of dark and dire pandemic news there are increasing bright blooms of admirable courage, ingenuity, and determination.

   The innovative Dyson Company designed and built a new portable ventilator called the CoVent in ten days and is racing to get it into full production “quickly, efficiently, and at volume,” vowing to have thousands available by early April. Tesla bought 1,000 ventilators from Japan for distribution in California and Mr. Musk is dedicating his considerable drive and resources to helping in the fight in any other ways he can. As are Bill and Melinda Gates and others with major influence and resources.
   Big companies like Ford, GM, 3M, and GE are all pitching in to help in multiple ways, including making more ventilators and protective gear for the medical people on the front lines who are quietly and valiantly risking infection themselves every day. Ford is giving six months payment relief to vehicle purchasers with stressed budgets. Some landlords are suspending rent payments. Small businesses are finding ways to serve the public, like touchless pickup and porch delivery and senior shopping hours. People in labs are of course working behind the scenes around the clock in search of treatment medicines and a vaccine.

   Hertz is giving free vehicle usage to medical workers. Fiat Chrysler is converting a plant to manufacture a million masks a month. Duke University has a way to disinfect used face masks with vaporized hydrogen peroxide. They can treat hundreds of masks a day for reuse multiple times, helping bridge the gap until enough disposable masks become available. Abbott has developed a five-minute portable on-the-spot virus tester that’s much more reliable than current methods and without lab waits. Their goal is to do five million tests in April alone.

   There’s a world-wide Maker movement inspired by the DIY Make magazine, which has fostered Maker Faires around the planet from San Francisco to London to Paris to Dubai. (Over recent years they’ve published more than two dozen articles about inventions my clever long-time buddy Larry Cotton and I have conjured up and built in his garage workshop.) Now makers all over are coming up with multiple ways to join the virus battle with ideas like creating devices to open doors and flip light switches hands free, 3D printed parts to repair ventilators in their hometowns, making face shields and Tyvek protective suits for their local hospitals, and cutting up car covers to sew face masks. See:

   Caring, courageous, smart people doing what such folks have always done in a crisis.

   Combined, their light will overwhelm the darkness.


A tip: There are pictures all over the Net showing people standing less than six feet apart. Imagine a person of average height, about five six for a male, stretched out head to feet on the ground and add half a foot. Six feet is more distance than you may realize.

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