July 14 Biweekly Round-Up: NEC Members Contribute to COVID-19 Crisis Response

 As our region and our nation continue to grapple with the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic, The New England Council is using our blog as a platform to highlight some of the incredible work our members have undertaken to respond to the outbreak. Twice weekly, we’ll post a round-up of updates on some of the initiatives underway among Council members throughout the region.  We are also sharing these updates via our social media, and encourage our members to share with us any information on their efforts so that we can be sure to include them in these twice weekly round-ups.   

 You can find all the Council’s information and resources related to the crisis in the special COVID-19 section of our website.  This includes our COVID-19 Virtual Events Calendar, which provides information on upcoming COVID-19 Congressional town halls and webinars presented by NEC members, as well as our Federal Agency COVID-19 Guidance for Businesses page. 

 Here is the July 14, 2020 roundup: 

Medical Response 

  • MIT, Brigham and Women’s Hospital Create Silicone Mask With N95 Filter For Easy Sterilization- Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brigham Women’s Hospital revealed their design for a new silicone mask. The new mask is designed to be light, breathable, and easy to sterilize- an important consideration given the high demand for PPE. Many hospitals have already begun their own sterilization processes to reuse disposable N95 masks. The new silicone mask can swap out N95 filters, reducing waste and allowing the mask to be clear for easier interactions between healthcare providers and patients. Read more here.  
  • UMass Memorial Piloting Coronavirus Saliva Testing- UMass Memorial Medical Center has begun testing on a new form of test for COVID-19, using saliva instead of a nasal swab. The pilot program began last week and will be in use for testing units on UMass Memorial’s University Campus and Memorial Campus—both in Worcester, MA—while other locations will continue to use nasal swabs. UMass Memorial has also started to shift care back towards a more normal operations, after dedicating numerous beds and personnel to coronavirus over the last several months. Read more here.  

Economic/Business Continuity Response 

  • Baker: Tech Industry Capital has Made a Big Difference- McKinsey & Co. CEO Megan Greenfield received the Ray Stata Leadership and Innovation Award from the Massachusetts High Technology Council. Greenfield received the award alongside Bain Capital CEO Steve Pagliuca for their work on the Council’s COVID-19 Recovery and Return to Workplace policy recommendation. Governor Baker urged the members of the council to “continue to bring your intellectual capital and your real capital to fight, it’s made a really big difference for people here in Massachusetts.” Read more here.  
  • Medical Manufacturers Adapt to Changing Conditions During Pandemic-Medical manufacturer MilliporeSigma, with facilities in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire, has made significant adjustments to business operations in order to meet the high demand for products used to produce vaccine candidates and therapeutic drugs related to COVID-19. Karen Tiano, a spokeswoman for MilliporeSigma explained that the companies’ products “are being used by scientists to develop more than 45 vaccine candidates, more than 25 testing solutions and more than 20 monoclonal antibodies, plasma products and antivirals used to fight Covid-19.” The company plans to hire an additional 120 employees to help meet worldwide demand. Read more here.  
  • WPI Will Reopen to Students in August and Allow for Remote Flexibility- In order to advance the academic and career goals of it’s academic community, Worcester Polytechnic Institute will be welcoming students back on campus while implementing “TechFlex,” the school’s new program to reduce classroom density and rebuild course schedules with “health and safety” as a priority. Students, faculty, and staff will undergo training to safely navigate the WPI campus this fall. Read more here.  

Community Response 

  • Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts Continues to Combat Food Insecurity- New England Council Member Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts has worked throughout the pandemic to distribute food to those in need.  Cafeterias at two Blue Cross Blue Shield office buildings have prepared over 50,000 meals distributed over the last ten weeks. Blue Cross Blue Shield employees also volunteer at the food pantries throughout the greater Boston area where meals are distributed. Read more here.  
  • Tufts Health Plan Foundation Provides Additional Funding for Nonprofits- The Tufts Health Plan Foundation board recently approved an additional $900,000 to support recovery efforts in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Connecticut. With these new funds, the Foundation’s contribution to COVID-19 response now totals nearly $2 million. Tufts Health Plan CEO Thomas Croswell said, “This crisis draws attention to deeply rooted systemic health disparities. This additional funding will support nonprofit organizations in their work to address the health and wellbeing of people in communities across the region.” The Foundation also announced 13 new grants, totaling $1.7 million to go towards collaborative community efforts. Read more here 

Stay tuned for more updates each day, and follow us on Twitter for more frequent updates on how Council members are contributing to the response to this global health crisis.

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