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Best solutions: The most off-beat ideas amid coronavirus

  • 4 min to read

MANSFIELD -- We've seen a variety of approaches to the myriad problems associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

But this edition takes a look at the most off-beat ideas yet, from dogs to llamas to human waste, the search is on to get us out of this mess.

Larry Phillips mug shot

Richland Source managing editor Larry Phillips. He's led the Source newsrooms since 2016. 

Remember, the goal is to introduce the story and offer a link to explore and make your own judgement.


Can dogs be trained to sniff out coronavirus?

In this story from Forbes, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have enlisted eight Labrador Retrievers to see if they can detect an odor unique to SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19. Assuming they are successful in picking up the scent of the virus, they may be able to form a “canine surveillance” corp, according to a report today in the Washington Post. This approach could offer a quick, non invasive method to screen persons in hospitals, businesses, airports and train stations as well as ports of entry.


A llama named Winter could be the key to fighting COVID-19

From MarketWatch.com, preliminary research suggests a tiny particle in llama blood can stop the coronavirus. The petite antibodies from Winter’s blood (which were used to engineer a new antibody) can bind onto the coronavirus spikes, and block the virus from infecting cells.


Poop may tell us when coronavirus lockdown will end 

This comes to us from the Cincinnati Enquirer, which reports that testing sewage for the coronavirus may tell scientists how much disease is in a community — and when the virus has finally gone away. By sampling and testing wastewater from various neighborhoods throughout Greater Cincinnati, officials may be able to track infection trends, warn people if there’s a spike and potentially stop a COVID-19 spread before it gets out of control. MSD and the EPA just launched a pilot study in Cincinnati to see if that will work.


Do-it-yourself cheek swab tested as next-best thing to detect coronavirus

Kaiser Health Network examined three Southern California jurisdictions ― Los Angeles County, and the cities of L.A. and Long Beach ― that have offered a more palatable alternative to this nasopharyngeal sampling, whose very name poses a challenge. At 21 drive-thru sites, anyone can now provide a sample by swishing a cotton swab around their mouths, putting it in a tube and dropping it in a receptacle on their way out — all within the comfort of their cars. Some experts suggest this self-sampling approach may provide an easier way to ramp up massive testing in the U.S.


How birth doulas are helping parents navigate coronavirus

From our friends at Solutions journalism, Yes! Magazine turned a feature on Doulas that help ease some of the anxiety and stress in patients, especially those giving birth for the first time. They do this by providing education, coping strategies, and emotional and physical support before, during, and after birth. They help parents create a birth plan, which lets the medical team know the patient’s labor and delivery preferences for things such as pain management, postpartum care, and newborn procedures.


Philly garden activists are shipping millions of seeds to a nation fretting over food access during coronavirus pandemic

Our friends at the Solutions Journalism Network tipped us to this story from the Philadelphia Inquirer. This is a victory-garden movement improved by technology: with biweekly conference calls drawing participants from across the country; collaboratively developed Google Docs with gardening safety guidelines; a proliferation of webinars and Zoom classes; a hashtag, #coopgardens, that people can use to offer or request resources; and a hotline, 202-709-6225, to connect novice gardeners to mentors local to their bioregions.


How 5 friends and a field of tulips fought the COVID-19 meltdown

The New York Times brings us this business-oriented story that features a coronavirus support angle. In adapting on the fly through March and April, the Spinach Bus partners took an ancient flower — evidence of cultivation goes back more than 1,000 years, and seed banks in the Netherlands, the heart of the global industry, have specimens grown continuously since the late 1500s — and ignored much of what had been done before in selling it. The idea struck that people might pay to have a bouquet of tulips sent as a donation and statement of support. So came their new Color for Courage business line — and more than 4,700 more orders at $15 a bouquet.


The race for coronavirus vaccines: a graphical guide 

Nature.com explores eight ways in which scientists hope to provide immunity to SARS-CoV-2. More than 90 vaccines are being developed against SARS-CoV-2 by research teams in companies and universities across the world. Researchers are trialling different technologies, some of which haven’t been used in a licensed vaccine before. At least six groups have already begun injecting formulations into volunteers in safety trials; others have started testing in animals. Nature’s graphical guide explains each vaccine design.


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