Harnessing technology to fight COVID-19

The Santa Clarita Valley Business Journal

By now, you are well aware that we are in the midst of a global pandemic that isn’t going away anytime soon. Over the past six months, we have learned much about how COVID-19 is transmitted, and steps we can take to slow the spread such as maintaining physical distance, staying home when sick, wearing a mask, and sanitizing our hands and space. Vaccine trials are underway at a breakneck pace, and a greater understanding of effective therapeutics is helping more patients recover. 

While much of the public discourse about the virus has been limited to “open/closed” and vaccines and medical treatments, we should also be encouraged by the number of companies working to address the disease with innovation and technology, including several right here in the Santa Clarita Valley. 

While tech companies are scrambling to make flashy apps for our phones or wearable tracking devices for contract tracing purposes, other innovative companies are more focused on traditional engineering, material science and design technologies and turning their expertise to finding technology-based COVID-19 solutions. 

 Scientists have long known that ultraviolet light mitigates the spread of viruses. It has been used in hospitals and medical facilities for years. Recent studies evaluating the use of overhead, low-level far-ultraviolet-C (UVC) light in public locations discovered it to be a safe and efficient method for limiting the transmission and spread of airborne diseases including the flu, H1N1 virus and MRSA. Unlike broad-spectrum UVC lights which can cause skin cancer and cataracts, this type of lighting is safe for humans. In addition, there are also sophisticated filtration technologies that allow the military to enter areas with unknown contaminants and keep astronauts alive in space. Both UV light and filtration are now being studied to determine if they are also effective against COVID-19. 

Notably, several companies in the Santa Clarita Valley make these technologies and install various UV and filtration devices globally. Now, these types of engineering companies in the SCV and beyond are working furiously to adapt their products to combat the COVID-19 virus in a wide variety of settings, from classrooms and workplaces to theaters and airplanes. These efforts could let us resume indoor activities, get kids back in classrooms, and workers back in offices. 

Holly Schroeder is president and CEO of the SCV Economic Development Corp., a unique private / public partnership representing the united effort of regional industry and government leaders. For more information about the SCVEDC, visit SCVEDC.org, or call (661) 288-4400.

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