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Thursday, March 26, 2020

MTU Engineering Team Joins Open-source Ventilator Movement

Using distributed technologies like 3D printing and circuit milling systems, makers around the world hope to build an open-source ventilator. (Photo courtesy Michigan Tech University)

By Allison Mills*
Posted March 20, 2020, on Michigan Tech News
Reprinted with permission

HardwareX has an open call for papers to build an open-source, 3D-printed ventilator and other COVID-19 medical hardware. They need ideas, printers, medical experts and a synthetic lung.

As COVID-19 continues to spread, the research community is looking for solutions. In addition to work on vaccines and medicine, medical technology is needed. In severe cases of COVID-19, the disease attacks the respiratory system, and one of the major bottlenecks in treatment is having enough ventilators.

The open-source hardware community wants to change that.

Joshua Pearce, Michigan Tech Richard Witte Endowed Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and a professor of electrical and computer engineering, is an open-source hardware expert and co-editor-in-chief of HardwareX, the leading open-source scientific hardware journal.

"The research on open-source ventilators is not new, but when it started a decade ago the technology was not there. Now it is, and we have substantial motivation, and we just need to bring all the information together," Pearce said, explaining that 3D-printed lab hardware and other open-source tech can be cost-effective and encourages design improvement. "Even complex medical devices are not outside the realm of possibility anymore."

Pearce, who runs the Michigan Tech Open Sustainability Technology (MOST) Lab, has joined the Michigan Tech Open Source Initiative, which collaborates with groups like the 9,000+ strong Helpful Engineers, made up of makers, hackers, medical personnel, engineers and other researchers from around the world. Many perspectives converge on a single goal: getting 3D-printed, open-source ventilators and other medical hardware where they’re needed to overcome COVID-19.

However, technological expertise is not the same as medical expertise (and a key validation test for open-source ventilators requires a lab with a synthetic lung -- not something most people keep around their makerspace). The end goal is medical-grade, low-cost designs, which can be made using distributed manufacturing technologies, like 3D printing or circuit milling systems, by anyone who needs them locally. To use them, the medical community needs certainty that an open-source design will operate as intended and do no harm.

As the HardwareX editors write in their announcement, "This special issue is dedicated to vetting the technical specifications and reproducibility of open medical hardware that can help during this global pandemic." 

They also note that, due to the urgency, Elsevier has made HardwareX platinum open access for the special issue, meaning all articles will be rapidly peer-reviewed and published open access upon acceptance, and all article processing charges will be waived. Or, as Pearce puts it for open hardware, "We need to test it, vet it and send it out to the universe."

The work is not clear or easy. Besides prioritizing remote work and social distancing like much of the working world, another limitation to combating COVID-19 is access to hardware. This includes ventilators, negative pressure rooms (airborne infection isolation rooms), oxygen concentrators, pulse oximeters, flow-splitters for oxygen supplies, flowmeters, nasal prongs/nasal cannulae, flexible nasal catheters, oxygen masks, non-contact thermometers, N95 respirators and powered, air-purifying respirators.

Even with uncertainty about whether manufacturing companies are willing to let open-source help out, there is immense pressure to get a design put together -- and fast. As pointed out by the editor-in-chief of Science, the success of the world’s recovery depends on what the research community is able to understand, mitigate and implement.

The technology enabling many of us to work at home is the same technology connecting the global open-source community. Their conversations are happening in Slack, on Facebook and through many, many emails. Lots of opportunities to get involved exist.

Engineering Needs Pro-human and Pro-tech Solutions

Joshua Pearce, Michigan Tech Richard Witte Endowed Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and a professor of electrical and computer engineering, speaks about open-source and sustainable technologies at Michigan Tech. Click on YouTube for larger screen.(Video courtesy Michigan Tech University)

Submit to the special issue of Elsevier's HardwareX on open-source COVID19 medical hardware.

Stay current with campus announcements at mtu.edu/covid-19.

* Allison Mills, author of this article, is Michigan Tech Associate Director of Research Communications, University Marketing and Communications.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Governor Whitmer Signs "Stay Home, Stay Safe" Executive Order

Michigan Governor Whitmer directs all non-critical businesses to temporarily close, all Michiganders to stay home or six feet away from others during COVID-19 crisis

LANSING -- Today, March 23, 2020, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the "Stay Home, Stay Safe" Executive Order (EO 2020-21), directing all Michigan businesses and operations to temporarily suspend in-person operations that are not necessary to sustain or protect life. The order also directs Michiganders to stay in their homes unless they’re a part of that critical infrastructure workforce, engaged in an outdoor activity, or performing tasks necessary to the health and safety of themselves or their family, like going to the hospital or grocery store.

Effective at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, March 24, 2020, for at least the next three weeks, individuals may only leave their home or place of residence under very limited circumstances, and they must adhere to social distancing measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when they do so, including remaining at least six feet from people from outside the individual’s household to the extent feasible under the circumstances.

"In just 13 days, we’ve gone from 0 to over 1,000 COVID-19 cases," said Governor Whitmer. "This is an unprecedented crisis that requires all of us working together to protect our families and our communities. The most effective way we can slow down the virus is to stay home. I know this will be hard, but it will be temporary. If we all come together, get serious, and do our part by staying home, we can stay safe and save lives."

"Taking aggressive action to protect our communities is the most important thing we can do to mitigate further spread of COVID-19," said Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Deputy for Health and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. "If we do this now, we can make sure our hospitals and healthcare workers are prepared to take care of the sickest people. It is crucial that people do the right thing by staying home and staying safe."

Executive Order 2020-21 prohibits all businesses and operations from requiring workers to leave their homes, unless those workers are necessary to sustain or protect life or to conduct minimum basic operations. Businesses and operations are to designate the workers that meet those criteria, and must adopt social distancing practices and other mitigation measures to protect workers and patrons in the performance of that necessary in-person work.

Workers that are necessary to sustain or protect life include those in health care and public health, law enforcement and public safety, grocery store workers, and more. For a full list of these critical infrastructure workers, click the link to Executive Order 2020-21 at the bottom of this page.*

Additionally, under Executive Order 2020-21, all public and private gatherings of any number of people occurring among persons outside a single household are temporarily prohibited. People may leave the house to perform for limited, necessary purposes, and may engage in outdoor activities like walking, hiking, running, cycling, or any other recreational activity, consistent with remaining at least six feet from people from outside a person’s household and with other restrictions imposed by prior executive orders.

Michigan is currently in the top five states in the nation in number of confirmed COVID-19 cases. Several governors across the country have taken similar steps to protect their communities from the spread of COVID-19, including governors Mike DeWine (R-OH), Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), J.B. Pritzker (D-IL), Tom Wolf (D-PA), Gavin Newsom (D-CA), John Bel Edwards (D-LA), Phil Murphy (D-NJ), and Ned Lamont (D-CT).

Patients with confirmed infection have reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with these symptoms: Fever, Cough, Shortness of breath.

The best prevention for viruses, such as influenza, the common cold or COVID-19 is the following: 

If you think you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your health care provider. If you do not have a health care provider, call the nearest hospital.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If not available, use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or upper sleeve when coughing or sneezing. 
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • If you are sick, stay home, and avoid contact with others.
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from others when in a public setting.
Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.

For those who have questions about the state’s actions to mitigate the spread of coronavirus, please call the COVID-19 Hotline at 1-888-535-6136 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. daily.

Michiganders can apply for unemployment benefits if they have left work or taken a leave of absence because of self-isolation or self-quarantine in response to elevated risk from COVID-19 due to being immunocompromised, displaying the symptoms of COVID-19, having contact in the last 14 days with someone with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, the need to care for someone with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19, or a family care responsibility as a result of a government directive. Those temporarily laid off from work should apply for unemployment benefits online at www.michigan.gov/UIA or 1-866-500-0017. 

Governor Whitmer is working to ensure that children who rely on the food provided by schools will have the resources they need. The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) has developed an online map for families to find meals. Families can access the map at: https://www.mcgi.state.mi.us/schoolnutrition/.

On March 19, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) approved the governor’s request for a statewide Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) declaration, opening the opportunity to small businesses to access low-interest loans from the SBA. The application for disaster loan assistance is available at https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/ For businesses looking for more information on how to apply for an SBA EIDL loan or whether it is something they should consider, visit michiganbusiness.org/covid19.

* Click here to view Executive Order 2020-21

This press release will be translated and made available in Arabic and Spanish at www.michigan.gov/whitmer.

Inset photo: Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. (Photo courtesy michigan.gov)