Wednesday update! Once again, Silicon Slopes facilitated a phone call with state and community leaders. We heard updates from Mitt Romney, Steve Starks, Spencer J. Cox, Bill Hulterstrom, and others. Here are a few of my takeaways from the conference call as well as other emails/texts I’ve received:
The good news is that the COVID-19 tests that are manufactured in Utah are now approved. The bad news is that there is still a shortage of re-agent needed to read the tests. Think of it like ink in a printer. Utah-based Co-Diagnostics produces the “printer,” but they are dependent on other sources for the “ink.” Lieutenant Governor Spencer J. Cox assured us the state is working diligently to get all the needed supplies. He said the money was wired today to purchase 10,000 extraction kits. Right now, Utah has the capacity to conduct about 300-500 COVID-19 tests per day. “Over the next week, we are hoping to ramp up to 1,000 tests per day in the state,” Cox says. University of Utah Health has five in-car testing sites in operation so they can test people without them going into a building and spreading germs. Today, there was a delay in reading tests because the earthquake led to a leak of chemicals at the ARUP lab.
State health experts say each person who contracts coronavirus infects 2-2.5 other people. This is twice the rate of contagion as compared to the seasonal flu. University of Utah Health said one reason we have a slow wave of flu every year is that we carry-over immunity from previous years. We don’t know yet how our immunity develops to this new virus.
Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) is a big worry right now — meaning masks, gloves and gowns for health-care workers. Our country’s supply of these items has largely been manufactured in China, which underwent its own economic shutdown and is just now ramping up manufacturing. We are using strategic stockpiles of these supplies already in the United States, but these items must be saved for the most essential treatments.
Romney told us the federal government is working on several options to stimulate the economy to the tune of $1 trillion. The House has approved a plan to essentially give every adult in the country $1,000. The Senate will now look at this plan and likely make tweaks. But hey, possible free money is coming our way to help move the economy! Romney also told us plans are in place for SBA loans to be easily accessible for small businesses. The anticipation is that these loans won’t have to be repaid. More details and stipulations to come.
The spirit of collaboration continues to show up in our state. University of Utah Health and Intermountain are in daily coordination to work together for a coordinated response and to prepare for health-care needs to escalate.
Slopes Serves, organized by Silicon Slopes, has a goal to raise $5M for all COVID-19 impacted areas, including medical supplies, education efforts and public health. Slopes Serves is asking for donations from businesses and individuals. There is already $1.2 million donated! You may also have supplies that are needed such as swabs. These might be in first-aid kits, schools, food storage (see attached photo). Volunteers can pick up your donations from outside of your location. More info on donating at slopesserves.com
Get the Data
Local company Domo has a dashboard that summarizes COVID-19 data from multiple sources. Check out this helpful but surreal graphic: domo.com/coronavirus-tracking
Romney told us that a mandatory quarantine is not expected. “That’s unlikely, but it’s the president’s call,” Romney says. “There’s not enough money in the world to pay businesses and individuals the money needed to keep our economy from collapsing during a long-term quarantine.”
Twice on the call I heard the phrase, “Perfect is the enemy of good.” In other words, let’s take action even if we don’t have everything figured out. Once again, I’m reminded that we have the coolest and smartest community leaders.
Don’t Be Afraid of Food
Andrew Smith of Four Foods Group told me 37% of Americans are nervous about eating at local restaurants because of fear of getting COVID-19 in the food. “There is actually no proof that the virus can travel in food,” Andrew says. “If you are purchasing food that has been prepared and cooked, there is 0% chance. You are not at risk by eating food. Support local restaurants!” Check out the Facebook group: North Utah County Take-out, Curbside, & Delivery Options During COVID-19.