Showing posts with label Corona Virus. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Corona Virus. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Notations From the Grid (Special Edition): On #LifeIntheAgeofCorona ((Updates))

The War on Corona is continuing worldwide.   Our Hometown, Laguna Niguel, declared a local emergency yesterday and activated the local Emergency Operations Center.     Six Counties in Northern California declared a shelter-in-place order.    Our team has joined the local Second Harvest Food Bank on the Status of their efforts to be operational to support all Food Pantries throughout Orange County as Orange County ordered a shelter in Place Order & as this occurred:


U.S. stocks soared Tuesday as top government officials and legislators sought a $1 trillion stimulus package to counter the economic effects of the coronavirus, rebounding after the second-worst day for equities in history.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met with Republican senators Tuesday to discuss a trillion-dollar package that would include sending checks directly to households.

Here is a sampling of the updates on developments around the World courtesy the team at The Financial Times and Resources For the Future:

Oil Markets in the Time of COVID-19, with Amy Myers Jaffe

In this episode, host Kristin Hayes talks with Amy Myers Jaffe, director of the program on energy security and climate change at the Council on Foreign Relations. A leading expert on oil markets, Jaffe discusses how the coronavirus pandemic has rattled the market and sent oil prices plummeting. Unlike previous oil crises, where consumers could take advantage of low oil prices and spend more elsewhere in the economy, the coronavirus pandemic and its economic ramifications have left many Americans out of work and averse to travel. Fearing a prolonged economic crisis even if the coronavirus is contained, Jaffe contends that financial institutions should closely consider the long-term risks of low oil prices and plan to eventually address “systemic problems”—especially if companies struggle to make ends meet.
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What is critical, also, is to start thinking about lessons learnt.   We commend the team led by Peter Diamandis in pulling these lessons from China as it has begun to "Flatten the Curve":   

(1) Fill the Skies With Drones

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Right now, drones above various parts of China are sharing information on loudspeakers, carrying signs with QR codes (for no-contact registration purposes), spraying disinfectant, delivering packages, and taking people’s temperatures.
To conduct temperature measurements, drones use infrared thermal imaging, which has not only proven more accurate than human-conducted readings, but also massively expedites the evacuation of community personnel. Simultaneously, drone readings have helped reduce close contact between community workers and residents, minimizing risk of secondary infection.
Shenzhen-based DJI has created a 10 million RMB fund to fight the Coronavirus, funding drone-enabled disinfection and protocols. Meanwhile, XAG — China’s No. 1 agriculture drone tech company — set up a 50 million RMB fund to use drones for disinfection in remote areas.
And in a surging nationwide effort, more and more Chinese towns have used plant protection drones to carry out disinfection operations during the outbreak. In Shandong province, for instance, villagers of Huji town used only two plant protection UAVs to disinfect about 480,000 square meters of the village in less than an afternoon.
But beyond agricultural uses, UAVs are now conducting unmanned delivery of medical supplies and the like. Having taken its maiden flight on February 6, a now routine drone flies to the center for disease control in Xinchang County, spanning the nation’s first anti-epidemic “urban air transport channel.”
Other unmanned delivery devices, such as in Wuhan, have transported medical supplies between JD logistics stations and local hospitals, avoiding vehicles and pedestrians in transit. And early on, Zhejiang Xinchang People's Hospital took the lead in using drones to transport samples for examination. Capable of automatically transporting up to 4kg of supplies between two unmanned stations without human operation, these drones tremendously reduce the risk of cross-infection.
How might our own local and state governments coordinate similar drone routes with hospitals, retirement homes, apartment buildings, aid centers, and others?

(2) Release the Robots

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Hospitals across Beijing, Zhejiang, Guangdong, Hubei and Hunan already have zero-contact distribution server robots.
Medical staff place items on robots, robots go to patients’ doors, and patients receive items contact-free. After completing a route, robots automatically return to the nurse’s station, where they are disinfected and continue delivery. In some hospitals, these robots can even provide contact-free delivery service to 20 wards, on average.
And in the F&B arena, robots and driverless vehicles are now servicing hospitals and communities alike with touch-free delivery of everything from coffee (Luckin’s “ruiji” machine) to fresh vegetables.
In the case of the latter, driverless cars now complete 24 deliveries every 30 minutes, greatly reducing the burden of front-line delivery staff.
Prompted by the outbreak, zero-contact distribution, self-driving freight, robo-taxis and other forms of autonomous navigation are now exploding business opportunities.

(3) Bring on the Biotech

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Already, one medical company (999) has released a new food line of “medicinal” noodles, touting immune-boosting ingredients, in an attempt to help stem vulnerability to infection.
Although in disparate industries, carmakers (BYD and Baojun) and iPhone manufacturers (Foxconn and Changying Precision) are churning out face masks faster than face mask manufacturers themselves.
Government and private sector capital is flooding biomedical services and medical technologies. A mere four days after the stock market opened this year, the biggest gainers were pharmaceutical businesses, medical device services, biological products and chemical pharmaceuticals — all up more than 10%.
Online consultations have gone from non-existent to the new norm.
According to Ali Health data, even prior to the end of January, total visitors to online free clinics exceeded 2.8 million, while servicing doctors surpassed 1,000. Meanwhile, online medical service platforms, such as Dingxiangyisheng (丁香医生), Haodaifuzaixian (好大夫在线), Pinganhaoyisheng (平安好医生) and Weiyi (微医), launched online diagnosis services for Coronavirus symptoms to avoid false-positive visits to hospitals.
Damo Academy, Alibaba’s future-driven research institute, can now test Coronavirus infection with AI analytics at a reported 96% accuracy rate by simply looking at a CT scan.
This new algorithm could tremendously alleviate pressure on hospitals, completing recognition processes in 20 seconds — far faster than the 5-15 minutes it takes a doctor to do the same.

(4) Virtual Classrooms (Keep the Kids at Home)

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More than 20 provinces, including Guangdong, Jiangsu and Henan, have now joined China’s “home-schooling” program, as over 10,000 primary and secondary schools and 5 million students attend classes via live streaming.
The boom in China’s virtual classrooms and online education has been utterly unprecedented, serving as an example the world can follow.
On February 7, China’s Ministry of Education shared instructions on the deployment of online teaching for students to resume classes from the safety of their homes, providing 24,000 online courses from more than 20 online platforms for FREE.
Meanwhile, this spring semester, 3,923 courses at Tsinghua University (China’s top STEM university) and 4,437 courses at Peking University (China’s top liberal arts college equivalent) will be taught through MOOCs, recorded courses, live streaming, and teleconferencing.
Countless online education companies are sharing free online courses for K-12 students, including Tencent Classroom, DingTalk, Zuoyebang, Yuanfudao, and VIPkid.
And while free education services help students, the EdTech business is booming.
In the long run, this surge in (what was at first interim) virtual education could dramatically change the face of K-12 and higher education, as penetration and conversation rates multiply.
More generally, OMO (online-merge-offline) environments will leap onto the scene, driving digitization, iteration speed, and operational efficiency of the education and professional training industries.
How will EdTech companies rise to this challenge in our own communities? Institutions? Universities? How will businesses seize this opportunity for a latent exploding market while serving the needs of millions?

(5) Remote Working (Keep Adults at Home, Too)

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Putting health and safety above mid-term economic growth, the world’s biggest remote work experiment has been unleashed by COVID-19.
On a recent earnings call, Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang told investors that, while a tremendous challenge for society, Coronavirus also gives people a “chance to try a new way of living and new way of work.”
As Chinese New Year approached its end, Alibaba’s DingTalk app quickly became the most downloaded free iOS app in China, and has remained #1 for the last few weeks. On February 3rd alone, users from over 10 million corporations used DingTalk, now leveraging its team chat groups, org charts and teleconferencing features. Companies can also track attendance and overtime hours automatically through the app.
Tencent has also seen dramatic growth in demand for its work tools. Now among the top five most downloaded free iOS apps in China, WeChat Work and video-conferencing app Tencent Meeting are serving millions of firms.
After recording a tenfold increase on February 10th (when many companies and schools resumed work), WeChat Work is now used by over 2.5 million companies, covering 60 million corporate users.
Compared with their foreign peers, like Slack, Chinese apps have jumped on “China Speed” to meet the unique demands of Chinese employees.
Released by TikTok's parent company ByteDance, corporate messaging app Feishu (which offers file-sharing and document-editing capabilities) has now released a “health management” platform, allowing workers to log location and daily temperature.
Staying home and avoiding contact is crucial. And every person counts. But in the interim, our ability to build and iterate on fully digitized platforms for the future of work is a forced opportunity like no other. And as I’ve said before, never waste a crisis….

(6) Unmanned Retail (Minimize Human Interaction)

No-Contact Grocery StoresEnter next-gen e-commerce and unmanned retail.
After completion of the new Wuhan hospital, an unmanned supermarket was launched within a day.
Open 24/7, the supermarket touts self-service checkout (no receipts), and received over 200 customers on its opening day. While it was reported that Jack Ma’s original launch of an “unmanned supermarket” in 2017 lost him about 4 billion RMB since then, the concept has now hit perfect timing. And companies from Meituan and Ele me to KFC have launched “no-contact distribution” services one after the next amidst Coronavirus.
While China’s e-commerce ecosystem is already far ahead of the rest of the world, there are still numerous items people prefer to buy offline.
But post-outbreak in China, buying groceries online has also become the norm. China’s Sinopec petrol stations now sell no-contact groceries: buy online, and have groceries put directly into the trunk of your car. No need to leave the driver’s seat or even open the window.
What novel business platforms will allow us to revolutionize no-contact, autonomous retail?

(7) Make Your Cities Virus-Resistant

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China has charged full-force into building emergency centers (hospitals), locking down outbreak epicenters, and mobilizing resources over the last few months at ‘China Speed.’
Integrating drones, robots, e-commerce platforms and novel biotech (as discussed above), the smart city has become an integrated platform for defending society against Coronavirus’s spread.
China has also showcased an extraordinary example of mutual accountability between government and populace. We already caught a glimpse of this when China’s government constructed 2 hospitals in fewer than 10 days as millions watched a live-stream of real-time progress, keeping their government accountable to its promise.
While we have yet to see how 21st century smart cities serve as community defense mechanisms, their help in protecting against outbreak in China should spur capital investment and innovation across our own smart cities worldwide. (Already, the Chinese government predicts public and private investment of 500 billion RMB (US$74 billion) in the nation’s smart cities.)
Creating a network of real-time information, WeChat and Baidu Maps have released clinic information covering over 100 cities across China, and over 3,000 clinics. Patients can now find designated hospitals qualified to treat fever and Coronavirus on their phones, drastically reducing confusion and wait times.
Smart cities can be further integrated in response efforts through the use of big data and cloud computing.
Cities might be equipped with early-warning mechanisms to rapidly detect infection, notify communities, and stem spread before it begins.
Now the new normal in China, smart cities are becoming preventative tools, whereby everything is tracked and analyzed for rapid decision-making in real-time.


Saturday, March 14, 2020

Notations From the Grid (Special W-End Edition): On Quite a Week....

The headlines said it all as Friday dawned after what was quite a challenging Week.  

Our team was in community throughout the day  visiting the local markets and the scenes from Ralphs (a Kroger company) was quite telling:

This is as Our Local County Supervisor here in Orange County California sent forth the following Guidance--although it is specifically related to Orange County, we felt it critical in terms of the guidance at hand and what we all need to be aware of as our team will continue to provide updates through our Twitter Corner, @OrdinaryFaces as we implore all to stay safe:

The County of Orange held a press conference today regarding our ongoing efforts and latest information in addressing the coronavirus concerns in Orange County. To view the press conference, please click here.

In addition, the Orange County Department of Education (OCDE) has issued a statement supporting school closures as a precautionary step to prevent the spread of COVID-19. To view the OCDE Coronavirus Update, click here.
Currently, the County of Orange is following the guidance of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH). To that end, CDPH issued new guidance Wednesday, which included urging the postponement or cancellation of large gatherings of over 250 people.Visit the CDPH website for guidance on schools, institutions of higher education, food industry, and many more.
In addition, California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order yesterday that includes many actions, including key changes and suspensions to the Brown Act to enable broad use of teleconference for meetings and alternatives to in-person public participation.
Furthermore, the Orange Health Care Agency (HCA) Operations Center (AOC) has increased activation to HIGH Level (I). AOC hours of operation will remain from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday. This level of activation is increased to support public health and medical system participants and will coordinate system needs according to local policies and procedure.
Inquiries, Questions, Resource Requests:
  • Public questions/inquiries should be referred to the Public Health Referral Line 800-564-8448.
  • Media inquiries should be forwarded to or Media Line 714-834-2178.
  • All Hospitals and *Health Care Providers are encouraged to access the HCA Agency Operations Center.
Note: *If your primary business interest does NOT require a medical certification or license you are NOT a health care provider.
For the latest information on COVID-19 in Orange County, information, please visit the HCA website.
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NEW: First Locally Acquired Case of COVID-19
The OC Health Care Agency (HCA) today reported the first case of locally acquired COVID-19, more commonly known as novel coronavirus.
The individual, a woman in her 50s, appears to have acquired infection locally and is currently hospitalized in isolation and reported in stable condition. HCA’s Public Health Services staff are following-up with people who may have been exposed and an investigation is underway to determine how the individual contracted the virus.
Details about three additional cases confirmed today include:
  • A man in his 70s who is isolated at home, travel-related exposure
  • A man in his 30s who is isolated at home, contact to a known case
  • A man in his 60s who is hospitalized in isolation, travel-related exposure
“As public and private labs increase testing capability and surveillance, we expect to see more cases of COVID-19,” said Dr. Nichole Quick, County Health Officer. “We realize the mitigation strategies that have rolled out this week by schools, businesses, and all levels of government are concerning for community members. We empathize and want to thank OC residents for their flexibility and willingness to make adjustments to their daily lives to help protect and promote the health and well-being of their neighbors.”
The most current information about COVID-19 is available on HCA's dedicated website and by following HCA on Twitter @ochealth and on Facebook @ochealthinfo. Community members are also encouraged to call HCA’s Health Referral Line 8 AM - 5 PM, 7 days a week, with medically-related COVID-19 questions at (800) 564-8448.
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COVID-19 Impacts on our Senior Population
Over the past two days, we have received many inquiries regarding the closure of local senior centers in South County, and the impact such closures may have on congregate meal programs.
The decision to temporarily close senior centers is being made by local cities in accordance with Federal, State and County guidelines. This is being done to minimize gatherings and adhere to the social distancing recommendations. As our senior population is particularly vulnerable to serious illness from COVID 19, we are supportive of these closures and cancellations of non-essential programs.
That being said, it is essential that our seniors continue to receive food. We are working diligently with Age Well Senior Services and other contracted partners to implement a consistent contingency plan to ensure our seniors continue to have access to food.
Effective Monday, March 16, all congregate meal programs will be converted to take home meals. Frozen meals and shelf-stable meals will be distributed at senior centers on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays with sufficient food to last the whole week. Our home delivered meals clients will also be given several days-worth of food at each delivery.
We are also working with the State to create as much flexibility as possible while still meeting nutritional guidelines, keeping access to food for our seniors is our top priority.
This is a rapidly evolving situation. Please stay tuned to our Health Care Agency website and follow them on social media for additional information on
Facebook @ochealthinfo and Twitter @ochealth.

The shutdown of America is continuing exemplifed by the decision made by Soka University--and our School District, Capistrano Unified (the 7th Largest District in California), declared all schools closed:

Dear Patron -

Soka Performing Arts Center is closely monitoring the rapidly evolving events surrounding the recent outbreak of a novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and considers the health and well-being of our patrons, artists and employees with the highest priority. 

In light of the recent directive from the Governor of the State of California, and the escalating issues related to COVID-19, we will be postponing or cancelling all shows for the rest of the season. This decision was not entered into lightly. The safety of our community and those most vulnerable among us is our main concern.

We want to reassure our patrons that no cases have been reported on the campus of Soka University. The University has taken additional precautions to mitigate risk and exposure on campus. Click here for details.

At this time, our physical Box Office on campus is closed to walk-up service.

For those of you holding tickets to events, please watch your inbox next week for further instruction. 

Due to the current circumstances, our call volume and length of wait-time has increased dramatically. The preferred method of communication is through email at Please allow 24-48 hours to receive a reply during our normal operating hours Monday-Friday, 10am-2pm.

Thank you all for your understanding of our efforts to keep everyone safe at this time. We truly appreciate your continued support of Soka Performing Arts Center.

Stay well, and we look forward to a wonderful season in 20-21.

Warm regards,

Renee Bodie
General Manager
Soka Performing Arts Center

949.480.4278 | 1 University Drive, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656

United to End Homelessness

Orange County United Way is continuing to monitor the unfolding situation with the outbreak of COVID-19. Here is a quick update on status and actions across the organization, including our United to End Homelessness initiatives. Obviously, this is a fluid situation so we will provide additional updates as appropriate.

1. As for our United Way employees, we are doing our best to ensure they are able to continue to do the amazing work while knowing their personal health is paramount for our county's speedy recovery. Thus, at times we may be working remotely and pivoting from in-person events to electronic ones; all while we continue our important work to improve lives.

2. As for our events, here is an update:
a. Scorecard Event on March 25th: This is being cancelled as an in person event. However, we will create an electronic version to share with all of you to showcase what Orange County has accomplished together in improving the lives of so many over the past year.

b. Women's Philanthropy Fund Breakfast on May 20th: We are keeping it on your calendars for now but know we may need to move it depending on our collective progress in managing the spread of the virus.

c. Homelessness 101 Classes: These in-person classes hosted by United to End Homelessness have been cancelled through the end of April. We will instead be hosting them "virtually." You can RSVP to upcoming class using the Eventbrite link below:

     • Thursday, March 26th at 3:00 p.m. PST - Click Here
     • Monday, April 13th at 3:00 p.m. PST - Click Here
3. As for our Community Impact work, we are determining how to best help and even accelerate our work to ensure the most at risk are supported. Our teams are working closely with the County, non-profit partners and the schools to learn the most critical needs and create the appropriate solutions. Obviously, this is fluid but we are actively engaged to find ways to help those most in need.

4. Finally, we are setting up a fund to help fill gaps that have been exposed or worsened through this period of uncertainty. You'll receive a separate note on that fund. United Way's strength is helping communities rebuild and strengthen during and after challenging situations like this. This is an ever-evolving situation that could also affect our neighbors experiencing homelessness, and we will need your help.

Now, I will invoke my dear 92-year-old mom's message. This too shall pass. We will manage through this as a community and know your United Way will help make us even stronger.

Thank you for all your support and let us know how we can help you as we all navigate this uncertain moment together.


Susan B. Parks
President & CEO
Orange County United Way

As We went to Press, the Defense Department announced the following as reported by Defense One:

  Breaking News
March 13, 2020

Pentagon Halts Domestic Travel by Troops, Dependents // Bradley Peniston

U.S. troops and their dependents are now forbidden to travel beyond the "local area" of their assigned base, according to a Defense Department statement released Friday night.
Read full article »