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Adapting During a Pandemic

Chef in kitchen

As we poke our communal heads out from our protective burrows, we look for answers to how to emerge safely. The reality is that even as vaccines and medicines appear to control the novel Coronavirus, we will have to manage a clientele who will be more sensitive to all pathogens. Will anyone dine at a restaurant without wondering if that coughing customer is spreading the flu or their cold? Will anyone return home from a subway ride without diligently washing their hands? The new normal is that we will be more sensitive to the health risks we take by being part of a community. I don't think it will stop us from being social, but we adapt the same way Asian countries did after their bouts with SARS and the bird flu.

New businesses and products are emerging as a result of the pandemic. The following are a few examples that have crossed my desk. I hope to inspire you to restart your businesses and build new confidence with your clients.

For your employees, rapid COVID-19 antibody tests are now available. The tests indicate if an employee has antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Based in Rockville, MD, 20/20 GeneSystems, Inc. has a COVID-19 antibody test that received an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the FDA on May 3.  According to test manufacturer Roche Diagnostics, the blood test has a specificity greater than 99.8% and 100% sensitivity.

Founder of 20/20 GeneSystems, Jonathan Cohen, said, "We want to make these FDA EUA Authorized lab-based COVID-19 antibody tests easily accessible to restaurants throughout the country. Antibody tests indicate current and prior virus exposure.  By building, validating, and deploying a machine learning algorithm for COVID-19 antibody testing, we help pave the way to understanding the role antibodies produced by the body play following an infection in providing immunity and for how long. Our vision for building, validating, and deploying a machine learning algorithm for COVID-19 antibody testing is to answer some of these questions and help restaurants open safely. We believe antibody testing made available to those in the restaurant business offers a scientifically valid way to better determine workplace access and mitigation strategies based on the risk that individuals may transmit or acquire the virus."

As we are learning, the Coronavirus is mostly transmitted by air. Aerus' ActivePure Technology is scientifically proven to destroy microscopic pathogens and contaminants on surfaces and the atmosphere. One of their products, the Aerus Hydroxyl Blaster with ActivePure Technology, is an affordable, mobile, plug-and-purify air purifier. It works on interior aerosolized pathogens and surface contaminants. It acts to reduce the spread of viruses in your establishment.

In the meantime, you can't ignore what you should already be doing, which is to keep surfaces clean. ISSA, the Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association, provides online training on best cleaning practices. They offer an accreditation program to help facilities establish a comprehensive system of infectious disease prevention. The program is based on the Global Biorisk Advisory Council's (GBAC) extensive training. It teaches protocols for disinfection and biohazard situations like the novel Coronavirus. Successful GBAC STAR facilities can demonstrate that correct work practices, procedures, and systems are in place to prepare, respond, and recover from outbreaks and pandemics.

Splish Naturals has answered the call for a less harsh hand sanitizer. They produce hand sanitizers that meet commercial standards, but they are kinder on your skin thanks to essential oils. Their products are priced so that you can give them away and offset the expense by selling them from your facility. 

What do you do if you are not quite ready to open your restaurant but would like to serve and maintain your fans? How about renting a kitchen? Kitch bills itself as the "kitchen matchmaker." Kitch is a marketplace for commercial kitchens. Underutilized kitchens can use Kitch to rent their space to caterers, food manufacturers, bakers, mobile food vendors, and other businesses. It empowers commercial kitchen owners to monetize their existing space. Food entrepreneurs can bring new concepts to the market with greater flexibility and fewer costs.

If you're a restaurant that would like to take online orders but hire your own delivery staff, then GoTab is in order. GoTab provides the infrastructure for you to create your own delivery service. You provide your own delivery people, and GoTab furnishes the foundation to take payments and orders. It's a simple concept that allows you to bypass the more expensive delivery services that provide their own delivery staff. It also allows you to continue to employ your favorite people.

It's a stressful time! Do you have a longing for something soothing? That is what Ambika Mathur felt when she was laid off from her landscape architecture job in May. Being just 23 years old and health-minded, she wanted to satisfy her pancake cravings with something a little healthier. Frustrated by the absence of choices, she and her boyfriend, James, set out to solve both problems - joblessness and desires- by starting a new Super Batter company. Starting locally, selling at farmers' markets, they have now expanded to distributing nation-wide.

This is what the United States has always been about – solving current problems with innovative products and services. Are you inspired?

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