Eight US Manufacturers Selected to Make NASA COVID-19 Ventilator

June 1st, 2020

VITAL (Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessible Locally) was created by JPL engineers to help patients with COVID-19. Credits: NASA

After receiving more than 100 applications, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California has selected eight U.S. manufacturers to make a new ventilator tailored for coronavirus (COVID-19) patients.

The prototype, which was created by JPL engineers in just 37 days, received an Emergency Use Authorization from the Food and Drug Administration on April 30.

Called VITAL (Ventilator Intervention Technology Accessible Locally), the high-pressure ventilator was designed to use one-seventh the parts of a traditional ventilator, relying on parts already available in supply chains. It offers a simpler, more affordable option for treating critical patients while freeing up traditional ventilators for those with the most severe COVID-19 symptoms. Its flexible design means it also can be modified for use in field hospitals.

The Office of Technology Transfer and Corporate Partnerships at Caltech, which owns the patents and software for VITAL, is offering a free license for the device. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

The U.S. companies selected for licenses are:

  • Vacumed, a division of Vacumetrics, Inc. in Ventura, California
  • Stark Industries, LLC in Columbus, Ohio
  • MVent, LLC, a division of Minnetronix Medical, in St. Paul, Minnesota
  • iButtonLink, LLC in Whitewater, Wisconsin
  • Evo Design, LLC in Watertown, Connecticut
  • DesignPlex Biomedical, LLC in Fort Worth, Texas
  • ATRON Group, LLC in Dallas
  • Pro-Dex, Inc. in Irvine, California

“The VITAL team is very excited to see their technology licensed,” said Leon Alkalai, manager of the JPL Office of Strategic Partnerships and a member of the VITAL leadership team. “Our hope is to have this technology reach across the world and provide an additional source of solutions to deal with the on-going COVID-19 crisis.”

JPL now is evaluating international manufacturers from countries as diverse as Brazil, Mexico, India and Malaysia. A full list of approved manufacturers is available here. VITAL was developed with input from doctors and medical device manufacturers. A prototype of the JPL device was successfully tested by the Human Simulation Lab in the Department of Anesthesiology, Perioperative and Pain Medicine at Mount Sinai on April 23.

A modified design, which uses compressed air and can be deployed by a greater range of hospitals, was recently tested at the UCLA Simulation Center in Los Angeles. A high-fidelity lung simulator tested almost 20 different ventilator settings, representing a number of scenarios that could be seen in critically ill patients in an intensive care unit.

“VITAL performed well in simulation testing with both precise and reproducible results,” said Dr. Tisha Wang, clinical chief of the UCLA Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine. “In addition, the setup and operation of the ventilator was quick and user-friendly. The UCLA team commends JPL for actively contributing to the COVID-19 response and successfully addressing one of the key medical needs in the sickest group of patients.”

The compressed-air design also has been submitted to the FDA for a ventilator Emergency Use Authorization and is currently under review.

For more information about NASA’s work in fighting COVID-19, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/coronavirus

 

How long can Coronavirus survive on clothes?

April 22nd, 2020

NASSAU BAY — (APRIL 22, 2020) —Right now, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic likely has you armed to disinfect every commonly touched surface in your home. But what about your clothes? After a trip to the grocery store, is it possible that your clothes are contaminated with coronavirus?

Can coronavirus live on your clothes?

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the most likely way for the virus to spread is through close contact with someone who’s infected (even if they don’t know it). This is why continuing to practice social distancing is so important.

However, early laboratory evidence also suggests that coronavirus can survive on plastic and stainless steel surfaces anywhere from hours to a few days.

Unfortunately, the same study didn’t examine how long the virus can survive on fabrics — so it remains a possibility that coronavirus can live on clothes for several hours. On the other hand, soft, porous surfaces — such as the sleeves of your shirt — actually limit the likelihood of spreading these viruses for two reasons:

  • These viruses are more likely to get trapped within the fibers and weave of permeable surfaces like fabric, making it less likely for the virus to later transfer to your hand, face or another surface.
  • These viruses are much less infective (potentially non-infective) when dried out, and fabrics are more likely to absorb and suck water away from a virus.

When in doubt, do some laundry

If you’re worried that your clothes may have been contaminated while at the store or another public space where social distancing is challenging, toss them into the washing machine when you get home.  If you’re taking care of someone who has COVID-19, there are extra precautions the CDC recommends when it comes to handling and washing clothing, including:

  • Wearing gloves while handling a sick person’s laundry, and then washing your hands after removing the gloves
  • Avoiding shaking dirty laundry
  • Using your washing machine’s warmest water setting, when possible
  • Cleaning and disinfecting laundry hampers regularly or using a disposable bag liner

In addition, if you rely on a communal space to wash your clothes, such as a laundromat, you may also want to take these extra precautions:

  • Continue to social distance. Make sure you keep six feet between yourself and others.
  • Lessen the amount of time you spend there. Consider sorting and folding your clothes at home and avoid hanging out at the laundromat between wash cycles or loads.
  • Carry hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. Before and after touching communal washing machines, sanitize your hands and wipe down handles, buttons and knobs.

A quick word on coronavirus and your cloth mask

The CDC recommends washing your cloth mask in your washing machine using household laundry detergent regularly, depending on frequency of use. This means that the more often you wear your cloth mask, the more often it should be washed. In addition, if a washing cycle damages or misshapes your cloth mask, it’s time to make a new one.

Concerned you may have COVID-19?

  • If you’re experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, you can speak to a Virtual Urgent Care provider 24/7. The provider will help you determine if testing is needed and advise you on where you should go. For more information about Houston Methodist Virtual Urgent Care, please visit houstonmethodist.org/virtual-urgent-care to learn how to connect with a provider. 

About Houston Methodist Clear Lake Hospital

Houston Methodist Clear Lake brings the expertise and compassionate care of Houston Methodist Hospital in The Texas Medical Center to Clear Lake communities. The hospital provides a broad spectrum of adult medical and surgical care, is an accredited chest pain center, and is also a Primary Stroke Center designated through DNV. Houston Methodist Clear Lake offers many inpatient and outpatient services including a Breast Care Center with 3-D mammography, state-of-the-art imaging, labor and delivery with a level II neonatal ICU, Cancer Center, weight loss surgery and advanced laparoscopic surgery, comprehensive orthopedics and sports medicine, cardiovascular services, neurology, urology and otolaryngology. Visit houstonmethodist.org/clearlake to learn more and to find a doctor near you.

Governor Abbott issues executive order establishing Strike Force to Open Texas

April 18th, 2020

April 17, 2020 | Austin, Texas 

Governor Greg Abbott held a press conference Friday, April 17 and issued three new Executive Orders to begin the process of reopening the state of Texas while revising hospital capacity and certain social distancing guidelines. Within the orders, select activities and services that pose minimal to no threat of spreading COVID-19 are allowed to reopen using a “Retail-To-Go” model, certain restrictions on surgeries have been loosened, and schools will remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic year.

Within these orders, the governor has established the Strike Force to Open Texas—a team of nationally recognized medical experts and private and public leaders who will advise the governor on safely and strategically reopening the state of Texas.

“Texans are battling a colossal challenge—an invisible enemy that has tested our lives and our livelihoods—but overcoming challenges is part of who we are as Texans,” said Governor Abbott. “We have shown that Texas can continue our efforts to contain COVID-19 while also adopting safe standards that will allow us to begin the process of reopening Texas. The Strike Force to Open Texas brings together nationally recognized medical experts with public and private sector leaders to achieve this mission. By coming together, we can get Texans back to work, practice safe standards that will prevent the spread of COVID-19, and we can overcome this pandemic.”

James Huffines will lead the advisory strike force and Mike Toomey will serve as Chief Operating Officer. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton, and Comptroller Glenn Hegar will serve as consulting members.

In addition, Governor Abbott has appointed Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner John Hellerstedt, MD, as Chief Medical Officer of the strike force. Dr. Hellerstedt will be supported by three

Chief Medical Advisors: 
John Zerwas, MD, Executive Vice-Chancellor for Health Affairs at the University of Texas System
Mark McClellan, MD, PhD, Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner and U.S. Medicaid and Medicare Administrator
Parker Hudson, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine and Infectious Diseases at Dell Medical School and program director for the Internal Medicine Residency

These health experts will develop a medical architecture to comprehensively test and trace COVID-19 that will enable Texans to gradually and safely begin the process of returning to work and other activities.

The medical team will work alongside a Special Advisory Council who will share innovative ideas to help businesses strategically reopen while containing the spread of COVID-19. The council consists of 39 business leaders representing the state’s regions and industries. The advisory council will collaborate with working groups to devise strategies, statewide standards, and appropriate time frames to reopen the Lone Star State while prioritizing the health and safety of all Texans.

The strike force will immediately begin providing input on potential additional openings of activities and services in Texas consistent with guidelines provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The Governor will announce a revised plan for the state based on these initial recommendations on April 27.

Special Advisory Council members include:
  • Arcilia Acosta: President and CEO, CARCON Industries & Construction
  • Paul Andrews Jr.: Founder and CEO, TTI Inc.
  • Mark Bivins: Rancher, partner in Corsino Cattle Company
  • Kathy Britton: CEO and owner, Perry Homes
  • Brad Brookshire: Chairman and CEO, Brookshire Grocery Co.
  • J. Bruce Bugg, Jr.: Chairman, Texas Transportation Commission
  • Alonzo Cantu: President & CEO of Cantu Construction
  • Bobby Cox: Owner and operator, Bobby Cox Companies, Inc.
  • Adriana Cruz: Executive Director, Economic Development & Tourism Division, Office of the Governor
  • Michael Dell: Chairman and CEO, Dell Technologies
  • Scott Dueser: Chairman, President & CEO, First Financial Bank
  • Don Evans: Chairman of the President George W. Bush Foundation, Chairman of Permian Strategic Partnership
  • Tilman Fertitta: Chairman, CEO, and sole owner, Landry’s, Inc.
  • Richard Fisher: Senior Advisor, Barclays and Former President & CEO, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
  • Rick Francis: Chairman of the Board, WestStar Bank Holding Company, Inc.
  • Printice Gary: Founding Partner/Principal and CEO, Carleton Companies
  • Brad Heffington: Owner of Heffington Farms, Inc. and Triple T Irrigation, Inc.
  • Jeffery D. Hildebrand: Executive Chairman and Founder, Hilcorp Energy Co.
  • Nancy Kinder: President & CEO, Kinder Foundation
  • Tom Luce: Founder and Chairman, Texas 2036
  • Marc McDougal: CEO, McDougal Companies
  • Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale: Owner, Gallery Furniture
  • Drayton McLane: Chairman, McLane Group
  • Elaine Mendoza: Founder, President & CEO of Conceptual MindWorks, Inc
  • Balous Miller: Owner, Bill Miller Bar-B-Q Restaurants
  • Carla Moran: Ramar Communications
  • Dennis Nixon: CEO and Chairman of International Bank of Commerce
  • David Oliveira: Partner at Roerig, Oliveira & Fisher, L.L.P.
  • Ross Perot, Jr.: Chairman, The Perot Group
  • Kevin D. Roberts, Ph.D.: Executive Director, Texas Public Policy Foundation
  • Robert B. Rowling: Owner and Chairman, TRT Holdings, Inc.
  • Kendra Scott: Founder and CEO, Kendra Scott
  • Robert F. Smith: Founder, Chairman & CEO, Vista Equity Partners
  • Sam L. Susser: Chairman of BancAffiliated, Inc.
  • Massey Villarreal: CEO and President, Precision Task Group, Inc.
  • Kirk Watson: Founding Dean of the University of Houston Hobby School of Public Affairs
  • Marc Watts: President, The Friedkin Group
  • Graham Weston: Former Chairman of Rackspace Hosting Inc.
  • Sanjiv Yajnik: President of the Financial Services Division, Capital One

 

For more information about the Governor’s Strike Force to Open Texas, visit the strike force webpage.

 

The Governor’s second Executive Order (GA-16) relates to the safe, strategic reopening of select services and activities in Texas. This order establishes a temporary “Retail-To-Go” model that will allow retail outlets in Texas to reopen beginning Friday, April 24. Under this model, reopened establishments are required to deliver items to customer’s cars, homes, or other locations to minimize contact.

Under this Executive Order, schools — including public, private, and higher education institutions — will remain closed for the 2019-2020 school year. Teachers may go into the classroom for video instruction, to perform administrative duties, and to clean out their classrooms.

The Governor’s third Executive Order (GA-15) relates to hospital capacity and personal protective equipment (PPE) needed for the COVID-19 response. The order loosens restrictions on surgeries put in place by Governor Abbott in March. Beginning at 11:59 p.m. on April 21 through 11:59 p.m. on May 8, all licensed health care professionals and all licensed health care facilities must continue to postpone all surgeries and procedures that are not medically necessary to diagnose or correct a serious medical condition of, or to preserve the life of, a patient who without timely performance of the surgery or procedure would be at risk for serious adverse medical consequences or death as determined by a patient’s physician. Exceptions now include:

 

  • Any procedure that, if performed in accordance with the commonly accepted standard of clinical practice, would not deplete the hospital capacity or the PPE needed to cope with COVID-19, or
  • Any surgery or procedure performed in a licensed health care facility that has certified in writing to Texas HHSC both (1) that it will reserve at least 25% of its hospital capacity for treatment of COVID-19 patients, accounting for the range of clinical severity of COVID-19 patients, and (2) that it will not request any PPE from any public source — whether federal, state, or local — for the duration of the COVID-19 disaster.
The governor also directed state parks to reopen on Monday, April 20 with strict guidelines to reduce transmission of COVID-19 – including requiring visitors to wear face coverings, maintain a six-foot distance from individuals outside of their party, and prohibiting the gathering of groups larger than five.
– Information provided by State Rep. Dennis Paul

Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership

April 3rd, 2020

To our amazing healthcare workforce,

Most of you don’t know me, but I know you. You are the mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, and uncles who leave your families behind every day to become the frontline heroes in this war against COVID-19. Although I cannot be with you to thank you personally, please know that the members of the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership team, as well as their own families, send heartfelt appreciation and gratitude for the critical jobs that you do. No matter what your job is in the healthcare setting, it is a vital link that serves to support the entire system.

We at BAHEP will continue our work on behalf of everyone in the region as we walk these incredibly difficult roads together. So, again, thank you so very much. Please keep safe and know that our thoughts are with you and your loved ones.

With kind regards,

Bob Mitchell

President, Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership

UHCL professor gives expertise on how small businesses can survive COVID-19

March 27th, 2020

With the arrival of the coronavirus, Bay Area small businessmen and women find themselves facing a number of problems.

One of the most worrisome, and the one affecting so many is what’s ahead for small businesses feeling the financial strain after closing their doors so as to maintain social distancing practices recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as the country struggles with the COVID-19 concerns.

UH-Clear Lake Associate Professor of Management Troy Voelker thinks a small business owner could mitigate a potentially devastating financial setback by considering some suggestions.

First, he suggests staying up to date on any bailouts or assistance coming from federal, state, or local government agencies.

“These come along quickly and the landscape will evolve very fast over the next few months,” he says. “Demand for assistance will be very high, so submitting your requests early and thoroughly must be a high priority. I would recommend making researching this topic the first thing a small business owner does in the morning, and the last thing he or she does at night. It’s changing that quickly.”

     Voelker also recommends that business owners maintain close contact with their supply chain and communicate clearly what is going on. “At the beginning of March, before all the shutdowns happened locally, small businesses were already reporting interruptions in their supply chains, especially those with China connections,” he said. “Those interruptions will only become more significant over time, so it’s important to continue communicating with vendors.”

     And, he points out that despite the difficulties, it’s possible to find ways to continue developing revenue.

     “For some businesses this is as simple as moving your consumer interactions to an online or pickup model, while other businesses might find they have ways of deriving revenue they never considered before,” he said. “In some cases, the business might need to identify other non-traditional opportunities for creating revenue. There will be a reduction in consumption over the next few months, so diversifying your revenue streams is a good way to respond to uncertainty.”

Layoffs have become a reality, with many hourly workers in service industries finding themselves stuck at home due to social distancing recommendations. Voelker said it’s important for a business owner to make sure his employees do not feel forgotten.

“Maintain contact with your employees as much as you can,” he said. “Even if you’re able to move to an online model, keeping up human connections while at a distance is just good business practice and an important part of life. Most of us are used to spending a lot of our time at work and the people we socialize with during the week are our coworkers, so separating from that is more stressful than many of us realize.”

This is a good time to address parts of the business that owners have been neglecting or haven’t had time for. “Don’t focus on the negativity of the circumstances,” Voelker said. “Use this time to figure out how to connect with future customers and work on things you haven’t had time for.”