As we face unprecedented challenges in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, RI Bio would like to share some ways that you can help as well as resources that you can refer within your personal and professional networks.
First, the Rhode Island Department of Health (DOH) is asking for your help with donations related to personal protective equipment (PPE) as well as the items needed to complete the diagnostic testing for COVID-19. If you are a researcher, supplier or manufacturer in possession of these items and willing to donate or sell them to the DOH, please refer to the list of needed supplies and complete the Medical Supply Donation Form found here: https://rigov.wufoo.com/forms/covid-19-medical-supply-donations
In addition, BIO is launching the new Coronavirus Hub that connects those companies that have relevant supplies, capacities, and resources to share with those companies, researchers, or healthcare providers that need them. The new hub will enable users to post requests for urgently needed items, as well as to post the availability of supplies and capacity. The portal connects in real time through customized announcements and is searchable by keywords. Connections for medical supplies will be facilitated in partnership with Healthcare Ready to ensure an organized and optimized allocation of items in need, and thus will not be publicly available or searchable.
There have been many requests from medical research centers, biopharmaceutical companies, testing developers and testing sites for supplies such as:
- Viral RNA kits
- Pure compact RNA
- Compact nucleic acid isolation kits
- Automated nucleic acid extraction systems
- Tips for instrument pipetting
- PCR testing capabilities
- N95 masks
- N100, P100 & R100 masks/respirators
- N99, P99 & R99 masks/respirators
- Nitrile gloves (general purpose and exam)
- Gowns – patient isolation and disposable
- Swab kit supplies – 1 ml vials, viral transfer medium, swabs, tubes
- Hand sanitizer
BIO has created the Coronavirus Hub to enable you to post requests as well as announce availability. If you have these products, please share that information with BIO through this Hub.
Beyond physical supplies, the Hub will provide users the ability to request or share other resources, such as capacities, technologies, or assets that may be useful in COVID-19 response and/or development programs. A messaging feature permits users to reach out to one another, privately within the Hub. A notification is sent when a reply is posted. To expedite the launch of this timely tool, the Hub has an easy self-serve login providing instant utilization.
As a community, we have the responsibility to rise to this global call for action. If you have any questions, recommendations or technical issues, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Emergency Loans Now Available for R.I. Small Businesses
Yesterday the U.S. Small Business Administration approved Governor Raimondo’s application for assistance and will offer low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital up to $2 million to Rhode Island small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Applicants may apply online, receive additional disaster assistance information, and download applications at: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela.
Applicants may also call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email email@example.com for more information on SBA disaster assistance. If a paper forms are preferred, they can be accessed here.
If your business has questions regarding SBA loans and access to capital, please call RI Commerce’s Small Business Hotline at (401) 521-HELP or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Free Digital Tools including Video Conferencing for R.I. Businesses
Microsoft has agreed to provide their Office 365 E1 program for free for six months to all R.I. employers. That includes web-based Microsoft Office applications, resources to support telecommuting such as meetings and instant messaging, as well as remote file sharing. This offer extends to businesses of all sizes — whether you have one employee or one thousand employees.
To learn more on how to access these offerings, visit the dedicated webpage here.
Other companies have also made a number of tools available:
- Cisco is offering free WebEx video conferencing and a remote-work adoption toolkit to help guide businesses in their transition to working at home.
- Google is offering free access to their Hangouts Meet, another video conferencing system, for all of their GSuite and GSuite education customers.
- Schools and school districts can contact Zoom and the company will lift their 40-minute meeting limit on their free basic accounts.
Restaurants Switch to Takeout
This week Governor Raimondo announced that all restaurants, bars and coffee shops in Rhode Island will shut down and remain closed until Monday, March 30. Take-out and delivery service can continue.
Additionally, Farm Fresh Rhode Island is encouraging the community to use its Market Mobile wholesale service to get fresh food from local farms delivered to your home.
Cyber Security Precautions
During this confusing and busy time, cyber criminals are unfortunately taking advantage of many people and organizations. Numerous cyber scams related to COVID-19 have already been detected. It’s important to exercise extreme caution in handling any email with a COVID-19/Coronavirus related subject line, attachment, or hyperlink.
Take the following precautions to keep your data secure:
- Avoid opening unsolicited emails and be extremely wary of attachments, especially from unknown senders. See Using Caution with Email Attachments and Avoiding Social Engineering and Phishing Scams for more information.
- Use trusted government websites for information about COVID-19. Do not input personal information or passwords into unknown websites claiming to have special material.
- Do not reply to email solicitations with personal or financial information.
- Verify a charity’s authenticity before making a donation. The FTC has more details on charity scams here.
- Review CISA Insights on Risk Management for COVID-19 for more information.
for a brief 6-minute webinar on how to protect your organization from cyber criminals and safeguard your data while working remotely, click here.