Connect with us

Spread & Containment

New coronavirus cases vs. testing in “reopened” States

New coronavirus cases vs. testing in “reopened” States

Published

on


 - by New Deal democrat

Are new coronavirus infections increasing in States that “reopened” on or about May 1? The jury is still out. The number of infections is up in 4 of the 5 biggest States that have done so, but so are the number of tests. The likelihood that most or all of the increase is an artificial of an increase in testing depends on the date on which you start your comparison.

I haven’t been able to find graphs that nicely show both tests and positives together, so let me just show you 2 separate graphs of the 7 day average in number of new cases diagnosed vs. the 7 day average in testing for Texas, which is the state with the biggest number of new cases.

First, here are new coronavirus infections, which are up 42% from April 30:



But here are new tests performed, which are up 120%:



To save space, I won’t show them, but the trends are similar in the 4 other States, except in Georgia, where there has been an actual decline in new cases reported since April 30. 

Instead I’ve prepared the below chart of both the increase in tests and increase in cases for the 5 target States. Additionally, as you can see in the graph of Texas above, there seems to have been a renewed pulse upward in new cases since May 10. Since there is a 5 to 10 day lag between exposure and the onset of symptoms, this may be what is showing up. A similar pattern seems to be occurring (but could be just noise!) in several of the other States, so the below graph also compares test increases to new infections dated from May 10 as well:

State  Test increase
From 4/30
Case increase
From 4/30
Test increase
From 5/10
Case increase
From 5/10
AZ 157% 51% -41% 15%
FL 35% 12% 4% 21%
GA 135% -2% 65% -13%
TN 41% -1% 12% 36%
TX 120% 42% 77% 19%











All 5 States show bigger increases in tests than in new infections when dated from April 30. Dated from May 10, 3 of the 5 States - AZ, FL, and TN - show a bigger increase in new cases than in testing. Georgia remains a complete outlier, but has been shown to have important data integrity issues.

It is certainly possible - indeed likely - that many people, especially seniors, are probably continuing to practice safe distancing and mask wearing habits, despite the local governments’ lifting of restrictions, and this is probably at least a partial explanation of the data. But the virus is impervious to ideology. To the extent people in the “reopened” States are engaging in unsafe behavior, we should expect new infections to increase. Nevertheless it is safe to say that nothing dramatic has happened in the first three weeks of May.

Read More

Continue Reading

Spread & Containment

Argonne’s Jordi Roglans-Ribas claims second Secretary’s Honor Award

Jordi Roglans-Ribas, a former director of the Nuclear Science and Engineering division at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory,…

Published

on

Jordi Roglans-Ribas, a former director of the Nuclear Science and Engineering division at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, received his second 2022 U.S. Secretary of Energy Achievement team award for participating in the team that completed the Versatile Test Reactor (VTR) Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

Credit: (Image by Argonne National Laboratory.)

Jordi Roglans-Ribas, a former director of the Nuclear Science and Engineering division at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, received his second 2022 U.S. Secretary of Energy Achievement team award for participating in the team that completed the Versatile Test Reactor (VTR) Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

Roglans-Ribas was also recognized with a 2022 team award for work with the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) Kazakhstan Reactor Conversion Team to make nuclear research reactors safer from proliferation risk. The Secretary’s Honor Awards are considered one of DOE’s highest honors.

“The award for the completion of the VTR EIS recognizes the successful effort of the entire team and the significance of DOE completing the first reactor EIS.” — Jordi Roglans-Ribas, Argonne

An EIS is a government document that outlines the impact of a proposed project on its surrounding environment. It helps policymakers and community leaders make key decisions.

“The award for the completion of the VTR EIS recognizes the successful effort of the entire team and the significance of DOE completing the first reactor EIS,” said Roglans-Ribas.

Roglans-Ribas worked closely on the VTR EIS with a multidisciplinary group from government departments, national laboratories and contractor offices beginning in August 2019 and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, DOE published its first EIS for design and construction of a nuclear reactor since establishment of the National Environmental Policy Act in 1970. Now in the Federal Register, the VTR EIS has helped accelerate release of the Department of Defense’s Strategic Capabilities Office’s EIS for building and demonstrating the Project Pele mobile microreactor. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will reference both statements as it prepares its own versions for commercial advanced reactors currently under development.

“Jordi had an integral, long-term role on a professional team with immense collective expertise, keen attention to detail and enduring commitment,” said Temitope Taiwo, director of Argonne’s Nuclear Science and Engineering division. ​“As a result, the team completed a high-quality, complex and publicly visible analysis in a difficult pandemic environment.”

The VTR EIS team’s efforts were specifically praised for helping DOE advance its own efforts to provide a fast-reactor-based neutron source and testing capability. This capability has been missing from nuclear energy research and development infrastructure for nearly three decades. It is a critical capability needed to enhance and accelerate the innovative nuclear technologies that will advance U.S. objective to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.   

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://​ener​gy​.gov/​s​c​ience.


Read More

Continue Reading

Government

Hyro secures $20M for its AI-powered, healthcare-focused conversational platform

Israel Krush and Rom Cohen first met in an AI course at Cornell Tech, where they bonded over a shared desire to apply AI voice technologies to the healthcare…

Published

on

Israel Krush and Rom Cohen first met in an AI course at Cornell Tech, where they bonded over a shared desire to apply AI voice technologies to the healthcare sector. Specifically, they sought to automate the routine messages and calls that often lead to administrative burnout, like calls about scheduling, prescription refills and searching through physician directories.

Several years after graduating, Krush and Cohen productized their ideas with Hyro, which uses AI to facilitate text and voice conversations across the web, call centers and apps between healthcare organizations and their clients. Hyro today announced that it raised $20 million in a Series B round led by Liberty Mutual, Macquarie Capital and Black Opal, bringing the startup’s total raised to $35 million.

Krush says that the new cash will be put toward expanding Hyro’s go-to-market teams and R&D.

“When we searched for a domain that would benefit from transforming these technologies most, we discovered and validated that healthcare, with staffing shortages and antiquated processes, had the greatest need and pain points, and have continued to focus on this particular vertical,” Krush told TechCrunch in an email interview.

To Krush’s point, the healthcare industry faces a major staffing shortfall, exacerbated by the logistical complications that arose during the pandemic. In a recent interview with Keona Health, Halee Fischer-Wright, CEO of Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), said that MGMA’s heard that 88% of medical practices have had difficulties recruiting front-of-office staff over the last year. By another estimates, the healthcare field has lost 20% of its workforce.

Hyro doesn’t attempt to replace staffers. But it does inject automation into the equation. The platform is essentially a drop-in replacement for traditional IVR systems, handling calls and texts automatically using conversational AI.

Hyro can answer common questions and handle tasks like booking or rescheduling an appointment, providing engagement and conversion metrics on the backend as it does so.

Plenty of platforms do — or at least claim to. See RedRoute, a voice-based conversational AI startup that delivers an “Alexa-like” customer service experience over the phone. Elsewhere, there’s Omilia, which provides a conversational solution that works on all platforms (e.g. phone, web chat, social networks, SMS and more) and integrates with existing customer support systems.

But Krush claims that Hyro is differentiated. For one, he says, it offers an AI-powered search feature that scrapes up-to-date information from a customer’s website — ostensibly preventing wrong answers to questions (a notorious problem with text-generating AI). Hyro also boasts “smart routing,” which enables it to “intelligently” decide whether to complete a task automatically, send a link to self-serve via SMS or route a request to the right department.

A bot created using Hyro’s development tools. Image Credits: Hyro

“Our AI assistants have been used by tens of millions of patients, automating conversations on various channels,” Krush said. “Hyro creates a feedback loop by identifying missing knowledge gaps, basically mimicking the operations of a call center agent. It also shows within a conversation exactly how the AI assistant deduced the correct response to a patient or customer query, meaning that if incorrect answers were given, an enterprise can understand exactly which piece of content or dataset is labeled incorrectly and fix accordingly.”

Of course, no technology’s perfect, and Hyro’s likely isn’t an exception to the rule. But the startup’s sales pitch was enough to win over dozens of healthcare networks, providers and hospitals as clients, including Weill Cornell Medicine. Annual recurring revenue has doubled since Hyro went to market in 2019, Krush claims.

Hyro’s future plans entail expanding to industries adjacent to healthcare, including real estate and the public sector, as well as rounding out the platform with more customization options, business optimization recommendations and “variety” in the AI skills that Hyro supports.

“The pandemic expedited digital transformation for healthcare and made the problems we’re solving very clear and obvious (e.g. the spike in calls surrounding information, access to testing, etc.),” Krush said. “We were one of the first to offer a COVID-19 virtual assistant that deployed in under 48 hours based on trusted information from the health system and trusted resources such as the CDC and World Health Organization …. Hyro is well funded, with good growth and momentum, and we’ve always managed a responsible budget, so we’re actually looking to expand and gather more market share while competitors are slowing down.”

Hyro secures $20M for its AI-powered, healthcare-focused conversational platform by Kyle Wiggers originally published on TechCrunch

Read More

Continue Reading

Spread & Containment

Burger King Adds a Failed McDonald’s Comfort-Food Menu Item

Both companies have tried to make this beloved southern staple work, and Burger King is trying again with multiple new versions.

Published

on

Fast-food burger chains deal in the familiar. 

They sell comfort food, meals that make their customers feel good (even if that feeling soon enough turns to regret).

When one of the big three chains -- McDonald's, Wendy's (WEN) - Get Free Report, and Burger King -- adds a new menu item, it's either something outrageous designed to get publicity or an item that builds on the comfort-food model.

DON'T MISS: Unique McDonald's Sandwich Makes Its Menu Return

That's why so many fast-food innovations arise from taking a core menu item and give it a small twist. Wendy's does this more than any other chain as it rotates in different takes on cheese fries and new burgers that add well-known flavors like pretzel buns or more bacon.

McDonald's (MCD) - Get Free Report has been experimenting with similar ideas -- specifically trying to make southern classics like sweet tea and chicken biscuits -- work. The chain has had more success with sweet tea, which has become a menu staple, than it has with making chicken biscuits a morning staple.

And while McDonald's has tried to add southern style chicken biscuits to its morning menu without sustained success, that has not stopped its rivals from taking their own shot at the regional favorite. 

Wendy's has offered its Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit since it brought back its breakfast menu in 2020. And now Restaurant Brands International's (QSR) - Get Free Report Burger King has decided to add multiple takes on a chicken biscuit to its morning menu.

Wendy's also sold a "hot" version of its Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit.

Image source: Wendy's.

Burger King Adds Multiple Chicken Biscuits  

Burger King has built its morning menu around meat. The chain sells versions of its famed Croissan'Wich with double sausage, one with bacon, ham, and sausage, and similar offerings on biscuits.

Now, Burger King has been testing adding chicken to its meaty morning lineup.

Some of the chain's locations already sell a regular Chicken Biscuit and a Smoky Maple Chicken Croissan’wich (although those items are not being sold nationwide) and now it's testing a new take on a chicken biscuit in select markets.

"The Smoky Maple Chicken Biscuit features breaded white meat chicken with a smoky maple glaze on a warm buttermilk biscuit. It will be available through Aug. 31 while supplies last," according to Restaurant Business Online.

Burger King is offering the Smoky Maple Chicken Biscuit only in the Kansas City and Orlando-Daytona Beach markets.

McDonald's Also Bets On Breakfast Comfort Food 

McDonald's first put bagels on its breakfast menu in 1999. They were removed in January 2022 when the chain eliminated all-day breakfast and slimmed down its morning menu due to the covid pandemic.

Losing the bagels wasn't just about customers getting one less bread choice for their breakfast sandwich. It also invvolved McDonald's removing steak -- a meat that was only sold on a bagel -- from its morning menu.

Now, after a slow rollout across the country, McDonald's has returned its popular breakfast bagels to menus nationwide (albeit without making an official announcement).

Fans clamored for the return on social media in April 2022, when McDonald's Tweeted "Bring back ____." Tens of thousands of fans answered the query and the Breakfast Bagels were a popular request.

The most-requested item, the Snack Wrap, has not been returned and might not despite customer interest because making them adds complexity to the chain's kitchen operations. 

That's something the company has been working against as it works to streamline delivery and digital sales.         

Read More

Continue Reading

Trending