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Just Doing It: Local Tech Companies Redirect Resources to Fight COVID-19

These days Nike’s tagline “Just do it” has new meaning. Santa Clara-based tech giant Intel and San Jose-based energy cell company Bloom Energy just did it, delivering much-needed medical supplies to hospitals and medical workers.

 

Intel Sends Its Own Stock to Protect Medical Workers

On March 25, Intel began shipping personal protective equipment from the company’s own stock to healthcare workers to hospitals. The first shipments left Intel’s Hillsboro, Oregon plant last week — including 26,000 surgical masks to Valley Medical Center Foundation for distribution to Santa Clara County hospital and clinic workers in, and 6,000 surgical masks to Santa Clara’s Emergency Operations Center for First responders.

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“We are immensely grateful to the healthcare workers who are at the front lines of slowing this pandemic,” said Todd Brady, Intel’s director of Global Public Affairs, in a March 28 press release.

“We will donate masks, gloves, face shields and other gear that we have sourced from our factory stock and emergency supplies,” said Brady in the release.

“We’ll continue to look for additional sources of personal protective equipment that we can source and donate as quickly as possible to meet our commitment of more than a million items.”

The protective gear is only part of Intel’s contribution to the global fight against the pandemic.

At the end of March the Intel Foundation announced it’s donating $4 million to support COVID-19 relief efforts in communities where the company has significant presence, including overseas locations.

The donations will benefit community groups responding to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic — groups like food banks, school districts and children’s hospitals. In January, the company donated $1 million to the International Red Cross to support coronavirus global relief effort.

 

Bloom Energy Uses Fuel Cell Know-How to Fix Ventilators

Los Angeles County is better equipped to face its growing number of COVID-19 patients thanks to San Jose-based energy cell and micro-grid company Bloom Energy. At its Sunnyvale and Delaware manufacturing operations, the company is now refurbishing out-of-service ventilators instead of fuel cells.

A phone call between Bloom Energy CEO KR Sridhar and California Governor Gavin Newsom was the genesis of the company’s switch from producing fuel cells at its local manufacturing plant to refurbishing ventilators.

Bloom’s new manufacturing mission got its start when Los Angeles County received a shipment of ventilators from the national stockpile, 170 of which weren’t working. A ventilator service company told the state that repairs would take a month, according to a Bloom news release.

In a conversation between Newsom and Bloom Founder and CEO KR Sridhar the broken ventilators “came up,” Newsom said at a March 28 press conference at Bloom’s Sunnyvale operation. Sridhar offered his company’s resources to fix the broken equipment.

“Rather than complaining, we got a got truck and drove them to Bloom Energy to be fixed and they arrived at 8 a.m. this morning,” Newsom said. “They are quite literally working on them as we speak.”

At the time Bloom’s manufacturing team knew nothing about repairing ventilators. Yet within five hours of receiving the first shipment, the team had repaired its first ventilator, according to the company’s news release.

By the next day, Bloom had repaired another 23 ventilators and on Monday the now-functional equipment was on its way back to LA County.

To date, Bloom has received over 500 broken ventilators and has shipped back over 350. At its present rate, Bloom estimates that it can turn around 1,000 ventilators a week at its two plants.

The company is also working with biomedical engineers at Stanford Health Care on testing the refurbished equipment and Almo appliance distribution company to ship ventilators to Bloom’s manufacturing plants in California and Delaware and out to the state agencies and hospitals.

As of press time, the Society of Critical Care Medicine estimates that the U.S. currently has 62,000 ventilators and that 960,000 patients will need the lifesaving treatment.

Bloom wants to work with those who have ventilators in need of refurbishment and those interesting in contributing to this effort. For information, visit bloomenergy.com/ventilators.

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