April 14, 2020
A semi-coherent collection of news, data, thoughts and opinions for your enjoyment, sharing or immediate deletion. Hopefully you find a few valuable nuggets inside that are worth your while...
This concept is my way of sharing information and staying connected with my personal and professional network in these crazy times. Content is chosen based on what I think is interesting, entertaining and relevant, and there is no commercial aspect to any of it.

The last thing I want is to be an annoyance...so please click the unsubscribe link at the bottom of this email if you don't want to receive any more of these messages.

If you'd like to access past dispatches, they are archived HERE , along with a link to subscribe if you didn't receive this directly.

Have a great day!
What's the Plan?
This week marks the one-month anniversary of social distancing implementation for many areas of the United States. In Illinois, many schools had their last brick & mortar gathering on March 13th, and the the following week saw the formal orders to close all schools and then the stay-at-home proclamations. By all accounts, the actions taken have had a dramatic impact on the reducing the spread of the virus and saving lives, for which we should all be proud and thankful.

So what's next? From the very beginning, epidemiologists, economists, political leaders and pundits have debated the relative costs and benefits of various strategies to "bend the curve" while ensuring that the cure isn't worse than the disease. Those debates will continue, probably for many years, and are unlikely to provide any irrefutable answer to the question of what the perfect response should be. In any case, I have no interest in engaging in that debate, especially not at this critical stage. What does interest me is this question: "what is the plan for recovery - economically, socially and emotionally?"

I am not asking for a date when the stay-at-home order will be lifted, when schools will reopen, or when sports will resume...but I do believe it is time to define and communicate the roadmap for recovery. There are a ton of variables to consider, and there are certainly no guarantees on timing or even success. But we are starting to gain a better understanding of the landscape, and of potential tools that will help us along the way. Like any well-planned trip, we should start with the destination we have in mind, the roads that can get us there, potential hazards along the way, and steps we can take to mitigate risk. The miles will be marked not be distance traveled, but by reaching milestone moments like those mentioned above...we don't know how fast we will get to schools reopening, but we can define what conditions must be met in order for us to allow it to happen.

This situation has demonstrated not only our ability as humans to come together (virtually, at least) in times of crisis, but also our ingenuity and resourcefulness in addressing adversity. Some of the solutions that are emerging may be useful in defining the the conditions of recovery, and we should start considering how those might be deployed. For example, Abbott's 'ID Now' rapid testing machines provide positive test indications in as little as 5 minutes and a negative result in 10-15 at a cost of around $40 per test. Solutions like InnovaPrep's Bobcat can be used to detect Coronavirus pathogens in air or liquids, providing additional screening capabilities. While not eliminating the virus, these types of devices at least allow for rapid detection and act as a trigger for immediate corrective action.

The focus now is on getting as many of these machines and test kits to communities in need of testing and identifying COVID-19 cases, as it should be. However, as the number of cases decreases and focus begins to shift to recovery, how might these devices be used to allow for resumption of gatherings with an eye towards preventing spread and a potential second wave in cases?

One solution might involve primary and secondary screening at establishments and gatherings. Perhaps everyone entering a high school or sports venue would be scanned to identify elevated body temperatures, with anyone indicating a fever over a predefined threshold either denied entry or selected for secondary screening using a rapid C-19 test. Those testing negative and deemed to not pose any health threat could be allowed entry, while those testing positive could be immediately attended to. Additionally, there may be requirements for universal use of masks while inside the venue to further reduce the chance of spreading any virus, with disposable masks provided to anyone not bringing their own. These steps would all be subordinated to more general social distancing and community responsibility efforts aimed at creating a culture of accountability and safety through marketing and communications.

Of course, no solution will be 100% effective. Tests can and do return false-negatives; people may be contagious without having a fever; air testing may not catch the virus soon enough to prevent spread. So any scenarios need to be evaluated through a lens of practicality. Similar to steps taken post 9/11 to increase safety in buildings and airports, there will be new standards employed to reduce risk while allowing for the resumption of activities. And, as happened then, the initial procedures will sometimes be too stringent and in some cases prove inadequate. We will need to adjust and adapt to this "new normal." And in this adjustment will come solutions that make those adjustments easier, just as TSA Precheck and RFID entry into office buildings have for millions of travelers and office workers.

The time is now to start defining what these safeguards will be and to identify the indicators we will use to allow for recovery steps to begin. We should be defining the answers to these questions, among many:

  • What is the threshold level of new cases per day when the stay-at-home order can be lifted?
  • After how many days below said threshold can non-essential businesses resume operations?
  • What restrictions and/or screening procedures must be put in place before gatherings of 10 or more people are allowed?
  • What conditions must be met for large-scale gatherings (sports events, concerts, festivals) to resume operations?
  • What are the triggers for re-instituting restrictions if a surge in cases results?

Addressing these questions now is neither inappropriate nor irresponsible - it is the opposite. This is not the about declaring a firm date when things will reopen, it is about defining the parameters under which recovery can and will occur. It is imperative that these mile-markers be defined before any decisions are made, so that the general public, the media, and businesses can plan accordingly and so that the tension and frustration associated with the lack of clarity can begin to dissipate. The steps being taken by Governors to form coalitions between states are a start, but the answers should be arrived at with input from key stakeholders in each jurisdiction, and through their collective effort. This is a time to bring together a broad coalition representing public health & safety, community and religious groups, education, labor, business across industries, and more...similar to a mayoral or gubernatorial transition team. The transition to a new normal is more monumental and more important than a transition to new government leadership; it deserves - at the very least - a commensurate level of attention to planning via input & inclusiveness.

What a difference a month makes! Here is a snapshot from chartr showing some interesting Google search trends. If you are interested in the "part 1" snapshot, you can access it here .

Brands Show Support for Social Distancing

The new trend in staying relevant for top brands is to alter their logos in solidarity with their customers. Fast Company has some examples...
Social distancing logos are the design equivalent of...

As countries face lockdowns and "nonessential" businesses in many cities have been forced to close, brands are working overtime to keep up engagement (and sales). That has led some major companies, including McDonald's, Volkswagen, and Audi, to...

Read more

Investments Slowing Down

PitchBook surveyed 383 private market investors earlier this month and the responses are indicating a hesitant approach to investment and a recasting of projected investment down for the rest of the year...
Investors are cautious on private markets during...

Private market investors are turning defensive. Investors are riding out the coronavirus outbreak with a wait-and-see stance, but a significant portion of them already are expecting to scale back their bets this year, according to a survey by...

Read more
Fancy a little Ping Pong?

Table tennis is one of the top 100 trending purchases during the quarantine, with folks looking for a way to connect with their families and get a little exercise. Pro athletes have always gravitated to ping pong a sa warm up and great way to sharpen hand-eye coordination, so if you have a table, clear it off, play a bit, and stay sharp. The Murray household has a mini-table that is just the right size for a city house, but the kids are begging for a full-size table for the backyard!

Here is shot of one of the tables from Killerspin (and definitely NOT my house!) They are local Chicago manufacturer of some really beautiful equipment.

Note - As a reminder, I receive no incentives...just sharing things I like!
Killerspin Ping Pong Table & Table Tennis Equipment

Killerspin is the world leader in premium table tennis. UnPlugNPlay with the unique arched metal base of our premium Revolution Series or our quality MyT line of indoor and outdoor ping pong tables.

Read more
How About a 450km/hr Ping Pong Ball?

The Murray girls love Physic Girl and her fascinating series on all things physics. If you have kids, love science, or are just looking for some fun and informative videos to watch while in quarantine, her YouTube channel is definitely worth checking out.

In this video, she answers the questions: How fast can you propel a ping pong ball by creating a vacuum? What would win in a battle between a ping pong ball and a tennis ball? And what would happen if the International Space Station had a hole punched into it? (spoiler alert...it has!)
We Are The Virus

You may remember the rash of doctored or misleading social media posts last month showing how nature was retaking the earth, such as the posts showing dolphins in the canals of Venice (they were actually in Sardinia and they always are there.) The basic theme was that humans are evil, and nature is better with us quarantined...in other words, We Are the Virus.

Well, now a rebuttal meme has surfaced with posts poking fun at the WATV crowd, highlighting crazy ways that nature is taking back the earth. Check out some of them in the mashable article below.
The 'we are the virus' meme is a whimsical take on...

Maybe you've seen whimsical posts about animals like elephants and dolphins returning to areas that humans have abandoned during the coronavirus pandemic. Well, we are sorry to say that dolphins are not actually swimming in the Venice canals. In...

Read more