Posted on 08 Jul 2020

C19 Coalition Volunteer Highlight: Tracy Chen

3-4 minutes

Activism. Reform. Impact.

These three words have become the driving force between Generation Z, or Gen Z, and their ambitions. Gen Z is considered the cohort after millennials and has been called the “innovation generation”. In a report by Girls With Impact, 65% of Gen Z’ers strive to create something world-changing and impact-driven. This impact is apparent as Gen Z leads the Black Lives Matter Movement through grassroots efforts, such as peaceful protesting and social media campaigning. Due to the increased accessibility of technology and knowledge, Gen Z tends to educate themselves further on actions to support various social issues, including COVID-19 related challenges.

As a Gen Z herself, Tracy Chen, a volunteer with the C19 Coalition and the youngest member of the team, upholds the virtue of ‘doing something greater’. She is an upcoming senior in High School with ambitions to go into the medical field. As a future healthcare professional, her motivation to volunteer with the Coalition is to help others. At her young age, opportunities to reach a greater audience are not always evident. However, Chen went beyond to find COVID-19 related volunteer opportunities.

She researched to find volunteer listings and stumbled upon a Facebook group full of medical students. They were able to connect her with the Coalition around the end of March.

Chen started with the help desk team to answer calls and assist with emails, however, through her hard work she has expanded into the social media team. Being Gen Z and quick to social media trends, Chen is currently strategizing the C19 Coalition’s upcoming Instagram.

Her dedication to C19 Coalition’s mission stems from her experience with the helpdesk.

“I know it’s cliche, but when I spoke with a lady on the phone, she said ‘thank you so much’ because I helped her out to find a resource”, said Chen as she recalled her motivation to continue volunteering.

For Chen, being in a position to help someone out uplifts all the unprecedented events that have occurred due to COVID-19. The small ‘thank yous’ that come with volunteering often become the force that keeps many of the C19 Coalition’s team to strive for better outcomes.

Q&A with Tracy Chen

Tell us about your background.

I live in Queens, NY where I commute about two hours just to get to school. I’m an upcoming senior in High School right now where I do track. In school, there’s a mentorship program with freshmen so I have a little sib. When I was a freshman, I had a big sib so I’ve always wanted to pay it forward and become a big sib to help someone else. I have my own Depop store where I sell jewelry. I’ve made about 900 sales on there. The money that I received from my jewelry, I always use some of it to donate.

What made you interested in volunteering with C19 Coalition?

I wanted to do something, to be honest. I’m doing some coursework right now, but it typically lasts an hour or so. I wanted to help with the pandemic and a lot of my interests are in healthcare so I thought right now would be a great opportunity to volunteer.

When you think about our mission, what motivates you to continue volunteering?

I started volunteering late March or so where I helped with the helpdesk by answering calls and sometimes emails. I remember in April, there were so many calls. But it was also an opportunity for me to see the effects of COVID. There was actually an individual who called and we emailed back and forth for a while so that I could provide them additional resources. They thanked me. It felt great.

If you are interested in joining Tracy and volunteering with the C19 Coalition, reach out to us at info@c19coalition.org.

Alizay Rizvi is a blogger with the C19 Coalition. She has worked on health equity programs, including at the American Heart Association, to increase diversity in the health and social justice sector and aid in finding solutions to lessen health disparities and inequities in the United States. As a young professional, she is passionate about educating and empowering her generation to become agents of change. You can find her on LinkedIn.

Posted on 03 Jul 2020

Masks are in our Future - Considerations for Businesses

6-7 minutes read

Covid-19 has brought business and safety considerations around masks to the forefront of our zeitgeist. This note offers an overview of challenges and opportunities around protecting America’s workforce through masks. I’m not a doctor, and direct medical advice should be sought from a physician, but science has shown that wearing masks is a must.

The Covid-19 pandemic is a human tragedy and has severely affected how we are able to live our lives in 2020 and beyond. Aside from changing the ways we greet each other, work and live, it has also led to a temporary shutdown of business activities across industries. Parts of the economy, such as retail or entertainment venues, can remain closed for longer periods of time, with few drastic consequences for our livelihood. Some “essential” industries, such as food supply chains and energy have been affected by the crisis in a way that could put the very foundation of our social fabric at risk. For business owners in essential industries, safeguarding workers is a top priority to ensure they can continue with core business and production tasks. Other industries need to implement measures to safeguard workers and patrons, as a push towards re-opening our economy on a broader level is currently underway. As President Trump stated in May, the US is to open again “vaccine or no vaccine”.

Common response strategies to safeguard workers from infection include usage of PPE (personal protective equipment), such as masks, shields and gloves. Additional strategic measures include tracking and tracing (and adjacent technology development), hygiene measures, as well as social distancing. While most measures add some level of protection for workers and patrons, for businesses faced with the task of safeguarding their workers, procuring safe masks should be a top priority. Masks, when used correctly, can be a valuable tool to prevent viral transmission between individuals. Here are some aspects to consider when making procurement decisions for masks.

Mask Types

Most masks are either reusable, or disposable. Common mask types include disposable surgical masks (3-ply, 4-ply), N95 or KN95 standard masks with a “fitted” shape and cloth masks with or without insertable filters. Other mask types that have recently gathered attention in the market offer antimicrobial nano-coating to sterilize any virus particles. Protection results from deflection and filtration efficiency (blocking incoming particles), as well as fit. If the mask seals around the face, this can increase protection capabilities.

Depending on intended usage, your preferred mask type may vary. Disposable surgical masks are best for patrons entering your place of business that do not have masks of their own. They are highly protective and available at a low cost. Fitted high-filtration masks are best for workers who closely engage with customers, often speaking, while reusable masks with antiviral coating may work best for workers who are active in high-touchpoint settings.

Filtration Efficiency

Cloth masks often have low filtration efficiency (between 2-38%) which makes them an inadequate choice for many businesses, since they no do not provide adequate protection for workers or patrons. Quality 3-ply, N95/KN95 and multiple other mask types (such as the AIrQueen, or the InvisiSmart) provide over 95% filtration efficiency. If you are able to, I recommend opting for high filtration masks, instead of low-filtration cloth mask options. Look for FDA-approved masks and masks that have been certifiably tested for filtering efficacy.

Cost per month / price-per wear

Determine your business/customer mask uses and use this to guide your decisions, regarding which mask types will best fit your needs. A good way to model out costs, is to chart out the cost per employee, per month, based on the required number of wears. With this long-term perspective, reusable options may turn out to be more economical than disposable.

Economic Impact

Sourcing masks from domestic providers is usually more expensive than sourcing similar quality masks produced in China. However, we also need to think about strengthening domestic supply chains for masks in light of the unstable situation around import and export from China. If your business has budgets available to support local producers, investing in domestic products could help with setting a market-demand-based foundation for more PPE production from within the US.

Marketing / Branding Value

Many masks can be obtained with custom branding. This gives any customer-facing business an opportunity to gain increased visibility by integrating branded masks into your marketing strategy.


Masks are in our Future

In response to the Coronavirus pandemic, wearing masks has become part of the “new normal”. Going forward, I expect that access to masks will be included in health plans or become part of a basic nurture of health package that will be available in a workplace setting. Beyond protecting from infection, masks are going to play a bigger role as air quality in urban settings decreases. N95-masks were a go-to solution for many California residents, during past wildfire seasons. The possibility of future pandemics, and the looming threat of poor air quality may require us to look beyond the limits of our capitalist structures. We need to establish open communication lines across industries. We are facing a collective issue and we need collaborative solutions. Masks will be part of our economy and every business needs to understand how to manage mask selection and procurement. Ultimately, masks help ensure the protection of goods, which affects all segments of the population.

If you are a business working to bring your workforce back online, we would like to hear from you. Contact us at: info@c19coalition.org

Alicia Ferratusco, the founder of SF-based innovation hub Starfish, joined C19 Coalition with a focus on developing a secure masks supply chain for US-businesses.

Posted on 01 Jul 2020

C19 Coalition Volunteer Highlight: Mary Robertson

2-3 minutes

The new, uncharted territory of COVID-19 holds to be the challenge for public health officials, researchers, and policymakers alike. With new developments and various forecasts for the future, adaptability and flexibility have been the gold star for many individuals to focus on their intended mission and goals.

This holds true for volunteer, Mary Robertson, who joined the C19 Coalition at the beginning of April. Through her Ph.D. research in Anthropology, Robertson studied the diversification of advertising in South Africa and how to mend issues of representation. After graduating, she moved into research to design tech experiences that seek to benefit others.

Through various user experience (UX) and design research, she continues to gain knowledge in what motivates individuals, solving problems, and learning new concepts.

From volunteering with the help desk to conducting communication analysis, Robertson continues to impact the mission of the organization. Through professional experience, Robertson has used her skill set to determine C19 Coalition’s outreach through the help desk and beyond.

“I want to share the experiences of people who are on the front lines, people who are on the ground, and people who have expressed and shared their concerns with us”

Mary Robertson, C19 Coalition Volunteer

Robertson continues to strategize how the organization will pursue such individuals to address their concerns and lessen disparities with COVID-19.

Volunteers, such as Robertson, have been the driving force for C19 Coalition’s accomplishments and efforts. We continue to inspire our volunteers and partners to empower change within their communities.

Q&A with Mary Robertson

Tell us about your background.

I moved to Chicago back in 2009 to study Anthropology. I looked at the history of advertising in South Africa and how groups talk to different groups of people, and how organizations are trying to fix representation. After graduating, I moved into research to create tech experiences that are good for people (in general). I did some digital consulting and now, I want to use my time consciously and help with the pandemic.

What are some of your passions?

I enjoy research - seeing what motivates people and using what I learn to make things better for people. I love solving problems for people, learning new things, challenging myself to new things. I also love to Latin dance, however, I haven’t danced much due to COVID. Dancing is hard as it is, but dancing 6ft apart is even harder.

What made you interested in volunteering with C19 Coalition?

During a time where more individuals have a bit more free time, volunteering seemed to be a good way to spend my time. C19 Coalition was the first that got back to me. The team was very prompt, responsive, coordinated quickly. Although that may not seem like the best response to this question, it is important to work within a team that is quick in this ever changing climate.

If you are interested in joining Mary and volunteering with the C19 Coalition, reach out to us at info@c19coalition.org.

Alizay Rizvi is a blogger with the C19 Coalition. She has worked on health equity programs, including at the American Heart Association, to increase diversity in the health and social justice sector and aid in finding solutions to lessen health disparities and inequities in the United States. As a young professional, she is passionate about educating and empowering her generation to become agents of change. You can find her on LinkedIn.

Posted on 18 Jun 2020

C19 Coalition Partner Adaptive Energy Pivots and Steps Up for COVID-19

4-5 minutes read

Adaptive Energy Adapts to the Pandemic with PPE Production

As soon as Covid-19 washed over the country and caused devastation to individuals and businesses at historic levels, Ranvir Gujral needed to do what the name of his company Adaptive Energy suggests.

Adapt.

If it didn’t, the fuel cell company easily could have met its match.

“Overnight we lost two-thirds of our revenue and we were severely impacted by Covid-19 like everyone else,” said Gujral, who serves as chairman of Adaptive Energy. “We were clearly in danger of being hurt.”

Initially, many of the employees had to be furloughed. It was a tough reality that sat in front of him. And because his company supplied defense communications, it was mandated to stay open by the military.

After getting over the initial shock, Gujral paused briefly then looked for a silver lining.

“We had 50,000 square feet of manufacturing space that wasn’t being used to capacity, I had a staff of Ph.D. minds, and a highly proficient production team,” he said. “I just looked around and said, ‘Gosh there has to be something we can do?’”

“Adaptive Energy has become a leader in the COVID-spurred resurgence of American manufacturing,” said Joe Wilson, co-founder of C19 Coalition.

Initially, he just wanted to see if Adaptive Energy could make the much-needed PPE products such as hand sanitizers and face shields.

“On Saturday night we told everyone what we were up to, and by Monday we got responses from FEMA, state governments, and first responders desperate for help way beyond what we had,” he said. “It was clear we were merely putting a dent in what people needed and had to ramp things up.”

Adaptive Energy Adapts to the Pandemic with PPE Production

Quickly his facility and staff turned into a full-tilt PPE operation. Two weeks after they were furloughed, all his employees were rehired and his company was turning out production as fast as it could.

Among the first emails was one from the C19 Coalition, which gave Adaptive Energy the support and connections to various non-profits that it needed to make sure the PPE was made and ended up in the hands of those in need.

“Adaptive Energy has become a leader in the COVID-spurred resurgence of American manufacturing,” said Joe Wilson, co-founder of C19 Coalition. “Earlier this year, Adaptive pivoted operations to produce and ship critical PPE to frontline workers and essential employees. The C19 Coalition is proud to call them a partner.”

Since it started in late March, Adaptive Energy has produced or distributed more than 11 million pieces of PPE. Its biggest customers are New York and California which purchased large volumes of isolation gowns to direct to hard-hit hospital systems.

Additionally, while a lot of the need was for container size loads of PPE, Adaptive Energy realized there are smaller practices that need help as well. To help here, Adaptive Energy created an e-commerce store at arboraphothecary.com where they sell PPE items such as hand sanitizers, gowns, masks, and touchless door openers.

Because Adaptive Energy operates Arbor Apothecary as an incremental business, its revenue targets are softer, which allows the team to offer deep discounts and no-cost products to customers in dire need, including nonprofits, private citizens raising money to purchase PPE to donate and others who just can’t afford the PPE they need.

Like everyone else, Gujral hopes that the Covid-19 impact will subside and things can return to normal. Long term he plans to manufacture PPE items alongside its fuel cell business.

For now, he hopes people and companies continue to team up and help solve this PPE problem. He’s witnessed those trying to take unfair advantage of the dire situation through price gouging and counterfeiting but hopes the best of humanity like what C19 Coalition and Adaptive Energy does wins out.

“I think in the end, there’s a strong desire from people to help,” he said. “It’s refreshing when you see people drop everything they can to get PPE in the hands of people that need it the most.”

Adaptive Energy asks for help to connect with people and institutions that need PPE help that it provides. Inquiries should be directed to the Arbor Apothecary Website.

The C19 Coalition is a non-profit, cross-sector group of more than 20 organizations, companies, states, and philanthropists working to address PPE shortages across the country.