Look for the helpers

Children’s television host Mr. Rogers made a career out of connecting with and educating children. He broke down complex adult issues into terms that children could understand and offered words of guidance and comfort. He famously encouraged children to “look for the helpers” when they see scary things on TV.

Obviously, this is a simplified message intended to help vulnerable preschoolers. But the coronavirus pandemic is a stressful, frightening situation even for adults, and at times we all have probably felt like a vulnerable preschooler. I think Mr. Rogers’ advice is spot on and is relevant for people of all ages.

So this post is all about the “helpers” who are stepping up to lessen the horribleness of the pandemic. Health care workers and essential employees keeping us fed and supplied clearly are heroes. But a lot of work is going on behind the scenes in Midwest tech to assist. Here’s a roundup of just some of these efforts:

·        Scores of 3D printing businesses across the Midwest — including Fast Radius and 3DPX here in Chicago – began producing respirator masks and face shields for healthcare workers and ventilator components for patients infected with COVID-19.

  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted Abbott Laboratories in Abbott Park, IL emergency use authorization for its molecular point-of-care test for COVID-19. The portable device can be moved to different locations and delivers results in as little as five minutes.
  • Education software company Abre in Cincinnati announced it would make its communication platform free and available to schools and families for remote learning in light of the statewide school cancellation.
  • Epic Systems in Madison, WI is
  • Incubators and innovation centers across the Midwest are challenging entrepreneurs to completely or partially transition their focus to COVID-related solutions. Among these is the partnership between mHUB, 1871 and MATTER in Chicago to mobilize the tech community to quickly facilitate responses to front-line challenges from COVID-19, including 3D printing PPE.
  • GiftAMeal in St. Louis is a mobile app business that provides a donated meal to someone in need whenever a user takes a picture in a participating restaurant. It is temporarily suspending its location requirement for taking photos to support donated meals for takeout, delivery and gift card purchases during the mandatory restaurant shutdown period, while also directly coordinating restaurants food donations. It’s also matching food donations up to $5,000 to help a food bank.
  • The FDA gave an emergency authorization for the N95 respirator mask sterilization technology from Columbus, OH-based Battelle. It allows healthcare workers to reuse masks after decontamination in light of protective equipment shortages.
  • Selfless.ly in Indianapolis is partnering with Serve Indiana and Hedges to provide free volunteer management software to connect organizations that need volunteers during the pandemic with people who can help out from home.
  • University of Minnesota medical students partnered with health-tech startup Clinician Nexus to

We’re likely in this for a long slog and looking for the good things occurring can help us get through. Positive tech projects are happening all around us if we look for them. Share the pandemic-related tech efforts that you’re seeing in your are with the rest of the Centered.tech community at —-.

Be well and be kind.



Other stories we’re watching:

Centered is a publication of the Energy News Network, in partnership with the Illinois Science and Energy Innovation Foundation and mHUB.

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