COVID19 🦠 Newsbites
Ford’s next pandemic mission: Clear N95 masks and low-cost air filters
The automaker is looking to mass-produce masks that will make it easier to communicate and feature medical-grade filtration

Ford Motor Co. is rolling out clear face masks with N95-level filtration, in what could be the largest-scale effort to produce masks specifically designed to improve communication while offering medical-grade protection against the coronavirus.

Masks make it more difficult to hear what the wearer is saying and impossible for those who rely on lip reading. The ability to read facial expressions also is crucial, particularly for those in fields such as education, health care and travel, as most communication is nonverbal.

... The auto giant has been producing face masks, ventilators and face shields since March, through the launch of its Project Apollo, which organized Ford engineers to work with health officials and devise product solutions to deal with the coronavirus pandemic just days after the first wave of lockdowns. Since then, Ford has given away tens of millions of masks and is now turning proceeds from its health-care products toward manufacturing the clear respirators and air filtration kits, Baumbick said.

The new masks, which the company announced last week, will be washable and feature anti-fog technology, Baumbick said. They will be available this spring, pending N95 certification, but spokesman Mike Levine said pricing and distribution details were not yet available. Ford also unveiled a DIY air filtration kit for indoor spaces to reduce particle spread.

... But for the millions of Americans with hearing loss, masks can make communication harder. Advocacy groups for the deaf or hard of hearing have encouraged the use of homemade face masks with clear windows over the mouth. Though they can be found online on Amazon and Etsy, Ford will be one of the first U.S. manufacturers producing them at scale.

... Ford also plans to continue its free medical-grade face mask distribution — 120 million in communities hard-hit by the coronavirus across the United States — at local dealerships and nonprofits through the middle of this year. The company has already donated 66 million masks to first responders, state and local officials, and schools since August.
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White House Announces Plan for Vaccine Equity

“Today, we are announcing another step in this effort focused on some of our hardest- hit populations. Starting next week, we will begin a new program with federally qualified health centers, or as many people know them, community health centers.” “Under this new program, we will begin directly sending vaccine supplies to community health centers, enabling them to vaccinate the people they serve. Community health centers are an important part of our broader strategy to ensure we are reaching everyone with our response.” “Equity is our North Star here. This effort that focuses on direct allocation to the community health centers really is about connecting with those hard-to-reach populations across the country.” “And as always, we plan to be very inclusive across jurisdictions. So in this initial phase, we will include at least one community health center in each state and territory. As the program further scales, vaccines will become available to all 1,400 community health centers across states and territories should they want to participate.”
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Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is a contagious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The first case was identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. It has since spread worldwide, leading to an ongoing pandemic.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are variable, but often include fever, cough, fatigue, breathing difficulties, and loss of smell and taste. Symptoms begin one to fourteen days after exposure to the virus. Most people (81%) develop mild to moderate symptoms (up to mild pneumonia), while 14% develop severe symptoms (dyspnea, hypoxia, or more than 50% lung involvement on imaging) and 5% of patients suffer critical symptoms (respiratory failure, shock, or multiorgan dysfunction). At least a third of the people who are infected with the virus remain asymptomatic and do not develop noticeable symptoms at any point in time, but can spread the disease. Some patients continue to experience a range of effects—known as long COVID—for months after recovery and damage to organs has been observed. Multi-year studies are underway to further investigate the long term effects of the disease.

Source: Coronavirus disease 2019 - Wikipedia