Indiana Advances to Stage 3 in Back on Track Indiana Plan

On Wednesday, Governor Holcomb announced that Indiana has earned the ability to move forward to stage 3 of the Back on Track Indiana plan, two days earlier than previously planned.

Cass, Lake, and Marion counties, which were hit hardest by the coronavirus, will be eligible to enter stage 3 on June 1.

Social Gatherings

Starting Sunday (May 24), social gatherings up to 100 people may take place following the CDC social distancing guidelines. Gyms and movie theaters are opening at limited capacity and playgrounds, sports fields and sports and community pools may open.  

Restaurants

Restaurant’s dining rooms will continue to operate at 50% capacity in Stage 3. In Stage 4, they can move up to 75% capacity, which is scheduled to begin June 14. 

Retail

Retail, currently operating at 50% capacity, can move up to 75% capacity in Stage 3. 

Manufacturing

If not already operating, manufacturers can open but must meet IOSHA and CDC guidelines, make provisions to maintain social distancing, and consult industry best practices.

What Limitations Will Remain?

  • Hoosiers 65 and older and those with known high-risk medical conditions should limit exposure at work and in their communities.
  • Continue remote work when possible.
  • Face coverings are recommended.
  • Nursing homes remain closed to visitors; nursing home guidance will continue to be evaluated. 

For more information on the Back on Track Indiana plan click here.

Iotron Industries Breaks Ground to Continue Worldwide Sterilization Efforts

Whitley County EDC

COLUMBIA CITY, Ind. (May 13, 2020) ­­­– Iotron Industries, a global leader in radiation processing, broke ground on their expansion project during a time when sterilization is a key priority. The expansion will add 34,000 sq. ft. to facilitate another line of sterilization capability.

“Over the last few years, due to increased market demand in the U.S. and Canada, our Indiana facility has grown to full capacity,” said Aaron Starkey, Iotron’s Vice President of U.S. Operations and Head of Business Development. “The current global pandemic has further bolstered the need to increase the supply for reliable, high scale and domestically available irradiation services.”

Construction for the expansion began earlier today with a groundbreaking ceremony led by The Hagerman Group.

“We are honored to once again handle Iotron’s construction needs in the U.S.,” said Hagerman Executive Vice President Brad Smith. “Year over year, most of our projects are with existing clients, which demonstrates the relationships and trust we build and maintain with our clients. We congratulate Iotron on this expansion project, as together we build a better future.”

Iotron Industries currently operates in a 54,000 sq. ft. facility in Park 30 and provides sterilization, bio-reduction and material modification services for the orthopedic, medical device and agricultural industries. The existing site houses Iotron’s IMPELA® brand electron-beam accelerator system, which uses no radioactive materials and is powered by standard commercial electricity.

“Whitley County is fortunate to have this unique company as a part of our diverse economy,” said Dale Buuck, Whitley County EDC president.  “On behalf of our business community, I want to congratulate the Iotron team on their past success and I’m excited to see where the future leads them.”

At the request of the Whitley County Economic Development Corporation (EDC), the Whitley County Redevelopment Commission (RDC) approved financing for Iotron’s expansion project through a bond agreement.

“The bond was a great way to incentivize Iotron’s expansion to save the company interest costs and use funds already generated by the Tax Increment Finance (TIF) district to continually improve economic development in the county,” said Jim Argerbright, Whitley County RDC president. “The use of the bond shows our flexibility as a county and alleviates the use of a tax abatement for taxpayers.”

Iotron Industries expanded its operations to the United States and Whitley County in 2011 and chose to expand in Columbia City due to the proximity to local orthopedic, medical and agriscience industries, along with being ideally situated for coast-to-coast logistics and distribution.

“With this expansion, we will create 30 to 40 new jobs during the next three years,” added Jeff Blakely, Iotron’s Corporate Vice President of Organizational Development.  “This is just the next chapter in Iotron’s 30-year history,” Blakely continued.  “Our plan moving forward is to continuously innovate, add to our already superb skill sets, position our employees for success and scale our business to meet the needs of our customers. We are extremely proud to have reached this milestone, thanks to the continued dedication of our people, our strong customer partnerships and the unwavering support from Whitley County and the State of Indiana.”

The Iotron expansion is scheduled to be completed this year.

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FDA Authorizes At-Home Collection for Rutgers’ Saliva-based COVID-19 Test

Medical Device and Diagnostics Industry (MD+DI) – Amanda Pedersen

FDA has given the green light to Rutgers Clinical Genomics Laboratory for its COVID-19 laboratory developed test (LDT), which now offers the option of using home-collected saliva samples. The test remains prescription only.

To be clear, this isn’t the first test the agency has authorized with a home-collection option, but it is the first saliva-based COVID-19 test with a home-collection option. Rutgers’ test previously had been added to FDA’s high-complexity molecular-based LDT “umbrella” emergency use authorization to permit testing of samples self-collected by patients at home using the Spectrum Solutions SDNA-1000 saliva collection device.

Last month FDA authorized the first diagnostic test with a home-collection option, but that test uses a sample collected from the patient’s nose with a nasal swab and saline. That authorization is for LabCorp’s COVID-19 RT-PCR test using samples patients collect themselves with LabCorp’s Pixel home collection kit.

“Authorizing additional diagnostic tests with the option of at-home sample collection will continue to increase patient access to testing for COVID-19. This provides an additional option for the easy, safe and convenient collection of samples required for testing without traveling to a doctor’s office, hospital or testing site,” said FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, MD. “We will continue to work around the clock to support the development of accurate and reliable tests, as we have done throughout this pandemic. The FDA has authorized more than 80 COVID-19 tests and adding more options for at-home sample collection is an important advancement in diagnostic testing during this public health emergency.”

For more information about FDA-authorized COVID-19 tests and policies, check out these frequently-asked regulatory questions on the subject.

COVID-19 Resources

To safely open Indiana’s economy and remain vigilant about protecting our health and well-being, Governor Holcomb has laid out a road map to get Indiana back on track.

5 Stages to get Indiana Manufacturing Back on Track

Stage 1: Essential Employees Only (March 24 – May 3)

Stage 2: Open with Restrictions (May 4 – 23)

  • Manufacturers that have not been in operation may open following OSHA and CDC guidelines.
  • Screen employees daily; utilize face coverings according to best practices guidelines
  • Make provisions to maintain social distancing
  • Consult industry best practices
  • Provide employees, customers w/ your COVID-19 policies

Stage 3: Fully Open with Social Distancing (May 24 – June 13)

  • Open, must meet OSHA and CDC guidelines

Stage 4: Fully Open with Social Distancing (June 14 – July 3)

  • Open, must meet OSHA and CDC guidelines
  • Screen employees daily; utilize face coverings according to best practices guidelines
  • Make provisions to maintain social distancing
  • Consult industry best practices
  • Provide safety plans

Stage 5: Fully Open with Social Distancing (July 4 – Beyond)

  • Open, must meet OSHA and CDC guidelines
  • Screen employees daily
  • Provisions for employees to maintain social distancing
  • Consult industry best practices
  • Provide safety plans

More information about the Back On Track Indiana plan can be found at www.backontrack.in.gov .

Roche Wins U.S. Nod for COVID-19 Antibody Test, Aims to Boost Output

Reuters

(Reuters) – Roche (ROG.S) has won emergency approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for an antibody test to determine whether people have ever been infected with the coronavirus, the Swiss drugmaker said on Sunday.

Thomas Schinecker, Roche’s head of diagnostics, said the company aims to more than double production of tests from about 50 million a month to significantly more than 100 million a month by the end of the year.

Governments, businesses and individuals are seeking such blood tests to learn who may have had the disease, who may have some immunity and to potentially craft strategies to help end national lockdowns.

Basel-based Roche, which also makes molecular tests to identify active COVID-19 infections, said its antibody test has a specificity rate exceeding 99.8% and sensitivity of 100%, meaning tests would show very few false positives and no false negatives.

A false-positive result could lead to the mistaken conclusion that someone has immunity. Roche said its test relies on intravenous blood draws, with higher accuracy than finger-prick tests.

“If you take blood from a finger prick, you will never be able to achieve the same level of specificity that you will achieve … when you take blood from the vein,” Schinecker said.

“You have to have very, very high specificity. Even 0.1% or 0.2% makes a difference.”

RIVALS’ TESTS

Similar antibody tests have also been developed by companies including U.S.-based Abbott Laboratories (ABT.N), Becton Dickinson (BDX.N) and Italy’s DiaSorin (DIAS.MI).

Abbott has said the specificity and sensitivity of its test are 99.5% and 100% respectively. Diasorin has said its Liason XL test has 97.4% sensitivity and 98.5% specificity.

As demand escalates for antibody tests, an array of distributors with no background or established testing competency have also joined the experienced companies in an all-but-unregulated marketplace in the United States, according to a Reuters investigation.

Roche did not disclose a price for its test but said that it would be identical worldwide.

Schinecker foresees a high need for testing healthcare workers and their families for exposure, and those who showed signs and symptoms, to see if they have antibodies.

While antibodies typically confer some immunity, Schinecker acknowledged that much remains to be learned about the novel coronavirus before drawing definitive conclusions.

“Since this virus is not well known, one can hypothesise, but the proof will take longer,” he said. “Testing these people … is key to seeing whether or not people really have developed immunity.”

Read Reuters’ story here:
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-testing-roche-hldg/roche-wins-u-s-nod-for-covid-19-antibody-test-aims-to-boost-output-idUSKBN22F02Q

Aria Diagnostics Launches Self-Pay COVID Testing

Inside Indiana Business

CARMEL – Carmel-based Aria Diagnostics has launched an online portal for people wishing to be tested for COVID-19. The company says the self-pay portal gives users the ability to request a test online and set up a date and time for them to visit the drive-through testing site at the Aria lab on the northwest side of Indianapolis.

Aria says its staff will perform the test while the patient remains in the car. Results will be sent via email within 48 hours.

“We are extremely excited to roll out our new self-pay, drive thru testing because we truly believe that people are seeking the peace of mind that they aren’t carrying the corona virus that causes COVID-19,” said Zak Khan, co-founder of Aria Diagnostic Laboratories. “It is our driving mission and belief that, in order to beat this virus, we must test everyone. To do this, the tests must be affordable, accessible and accurate. I applaud all of the efforts being made by the federal, state and local governments to make testing a priority and hope our efforts will enhance those being rolled out daily.”

The self-pay service will cost $175 per test, according to the web portal.

Aria Diagnostics already provides testing for front line city employees in various Indiana communities, a service that began at the beginning of April in Carmel. Two weeks ago, the company announced it is partnering to provide thousands of testing kits to New York City.

After launching the web portal Wednesday morning, Khan says the company is already seeking quick results.

You can find more information on the service by clicking here.

Read Inside Indiana Business’ story here:
https://www.insideindianabusiness.com/story/42071170/aria-diagnostics-launches-selfpay-covid-testing

Abbott Labs Has Shipped One Million Rapid Coronavirus Tests To All 50 U.S. States

Forbes

In less than a month, Abbott Laboratories has shipped more than one million of its highly touted “rapid” molecular tests for the Coronavirus strain COVID-19 to all 50 U.S. states.

The milestone is significant because it has been hailed in the ability of states across the U.S. to ramp up testing and surpass daily goals to re-opening their economies. In Illinois, for example, Gov. J.B. Pritzker Friday reported the state’s biggest volume of COVID-19 test results thus far, calling it a “very important milestone” in the battle against the virus.

The effort to get the ID NOW COVID-19 test to doctor’s offices, urgent care centers and temporary testing sites like drive-thru parking lot locations is a snapshot into the massive diagnostic effort under way in the U.S. Abbott’s ID NOW COVID-19 test can deliver “positive results in as little as five minutes and negative results in 13 minutes.”

“We have shipped more than 1 million of our rapid ID NOW tests to all 50 states, Washington DC, Puerto Rico and the Pacific Islands,” Abbott said in an update posted Friday on the company’s website. “The majority of these tests have been sent to outbreak hotspots and we’ve asked that customers prioritize frontline health care workers and first responders.”

The test, hailed by the White House and praised by commercial companies like drugstore chains CVS Health and Walgreens Boots Alliance, was granted the U.S Food and Drug Administration’s “emergency use authorization” less than a month ago amid a growing number of agency approvals for more rapid molecular “point-of-care” diagnostic tests that can be used in temporary screening locations, doctor’s office labs and nursing homes to detect the Coronavirus strain COVID-19 within a half hour.

The FDA has escalated approvals of rapid “point-of-care” diagnostics made by other companies including Mesa Biotech and Cepheid which are also ramping up production to meet unprecedented demand.

Earlier this week, The Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed)  projected that the medtech industry will have produced more than 25 million tests by the end of April that are largely molecular testing for the live virus. AdvaMed didn’t disclose specific company names or tallies produced by certain makers.

That kind of production will be welcome to U.S. healthcare providers on the frontlines as well as a Trump White House and federal health agencies dogged by criticism for the lack of testing for Coronavirus. 

The U.S. is considered well behind other countries when it comes to the availability of testing. As of Saturday morning, the number of U.S. Coronavirus cases was set to eclipse 930,000 as the number of deaths hurtled past 50,000.

“We’re currently manufacturing 50,000 tests per day, plan to increase ID NOW manufacturing capacity to 2 million tests a month by June and are working to expand beyond that,” Abbott disclosed.

Read Forbes’ story here:
https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucejapsen/2020/04/25/abbott-labs-has-shipped-one-million-rapid-coronavirus-tests-to-all-50-us-states/?utm_campaign=forbes&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_term=Carrie/#598bb6127e2c

Logansport Manufacturer Gets Early Jump on Producing PPE

Kokomo Tribune

LOGANSPORT — A local manufacturer was ahead of the game when he conceived the idea of producing protective masks and face shields for those who need them during the coronavirus pandemic.

John Hopper is the owner of Hopper Development Incorporated (HDI), which was founded by Hopper’s father Robert in 1970. HDI makes products using precision plastic injection molding and offers mold building and tooling services. Hopper said over the years the company has produced many molds and tooling for different types of plastic components, though never before for any medical device.

According to Hopper, he had an eye on the COVID-19 outbreak a few months ago when the virus was really beginning to escalate in China.

“I guess I watch a lot of news,” Hopper said. “We’re paying attention to what’s going on in the world.”

Hopper recalled that in January people around the world were getting pretty concerned about the virus. He then noticed manufacturers in other parts of the world coming out with designs for various protective gear or PPE.

“There were designs for the face shields and even the respirator masks,” he said. “It was because there was a shortage and people were getting very, very nervous. And I thought well, there’s nothing stopping that virus from hitting the United States. It just made sense.”

Hopper said he examined some of the designs for the face shields and got his team at HDI together in late February to begin the process of creating a mask using their 3D printers. It was an endeavor that took several phases.

“We have four 3D printers,” he said. “We went through about a hard week of development on these face shields. We didn’t like any of the designs that were coming out of different sources.”

According to Hopper, many of the existing designs he and his team looked at used elastic, and they had heard from healthcare workers that the elastic was uncomfortable. They also noticed elastic was almost completely unavailable to order.

“We started to experiment with a design that is kind of like a heavy duty pair of sunglasses,” Hopper said. It was a tough week of design and print. We had all of our printers running constantly, making these things.”

Hopper said a 3D printer is not a fast machine and it took about three hours to make one frame, even though there were four machines running. Hopper then made a decision. He asked the design and tooling department to make a plastic injection mold.

“They were excited about it,” he said. “They jumped on it and built a mold in a week for these that would normally take six to eight weeks to build.”

Hopper noted that throughout the design and production process, he had some valuable feedback from a friend.

“There’s a friend of mine that’s a doctor at Logansport Memorial Hospital and he offered a couple suggestions and we made those changes immediately,” Hopper said.

When the details of the design and the production process were fleshed out, the team at HDI began producing the PPE in earnest. Hopper said he brought a laser cutting machine home to his personal workshop so he could work on cutting the clear face shield itself. He has been working every day and said his family has been helping.

“My wife gave me our dining room table so I’ve got that to use as a work space as well. So it’s worked out wonderfully you know. It’s kept us busy here at home,” Hopper said.

It seems like busy is somewhat of an understatement. Hopper noted that they have been continuously sending out shipments for weeks now.

“We’ve been making daily shipments to many medical providers,” he said. “Lately the majority have been going to Logansport Memorial Hospital and our health department. We’ve sent them to Fort Wayne. We have a constant stream going to north Indianapolis.”

Hopper also said they have been sending shields to dentists, nursing homes, and eye doctors.

Incredibly, Hopper is giving the PPE away free of charge.

“We’re not selling these,” he said. “We’re donating these to any medical provider out there who wants to feel a little safer.”

He said they are getting good feedback at HDI from providers who have been using the masks. One prominent doctor at the hospital told Hopper the mask fits better than anything else he has tried, Hopper said.

While the enthusiastic response has kept Hopper quite busy at home, he is happy to do it.

“It’s a joy knowing that our healthcare providers feel protected,” Hopper said. “It’s a tiny little thing. They have so much workload, and if it makes them feel a little bit more comfortable it is so worth it. Whatever little we can do. We have the capability to make these things, so we’re doing it.”

For information on ordering protective masks from HDI, can call their office at 574-753-6621.

Read the original story here:
https://www.kokomotribune.com/indiana/news/logansport-manufacturer-gets-early-jump-on-producing-ppe/article_34871334-c37d-57c9-afce-e1e71ee7a829.html .

Gov. Holcomb Signs Executive Order Permitting Elective Medical Procedures

INDIANAPOLIS — Governor Eric J. Holcomb today signed Executive Order 20-23 to allow health care providers and facilities to resume elective medical procedures provided they have sufficient quantities of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and consult the best practices and recommendations developed by their medical associations or industries.

Providers include hospital, veterinarians, dentists and others listed in Executive Order 20-22.

Click here to see the executive order: https://www.in.gov/gov/2384.htm

Click here to download public service announcements (PSAs) recorded by the state for your use: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/egf210ognxxyx4h/AADYd7E-tBn7P6gtiLSZUiVBa?dl=0

More information may be found at the ISDH website at coronavirus.in.gov and the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

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Indy Medical Mask Producer Responds to Pandemic

Inside Indiana Business

INDIANAPOLIS – A company on the west side of Indianapolis has ramped up production exponentially, serving customers around the world, in the battle against COVID-19. Pulmodyne Inc., which manufactures airway and respiratory medical devices such as masks used in conjunction with ventilators, says it is expanding into an adjacent 7,000-square-foot building, where pre-assembly work will take place.

The company also recently hired 25 temporary workers, bringing its staff to 120 people, and plans to add 50 more production employees to keep up with demand.

“Our devices are designed to avoid intubation,” says Andy Shurig, executive director of Pulmodyne.

The company ships products around the globe and saw the rapid spread of the coronavirus even before it hit the U.S. and Indiana.

“The last week of February, we saw a big spike coming from Europe, especially Italy,” says Shurig.

Once the disease hit the U.S., demand for its medical masks exploded. “We’ve seen a massive spike in sales,” says Shurig. “Our business is up 600%.”

The flu season is typically the company’s busiest time of the year. The pandemic has pushed demand for the products dramatically higher.

“In a month, we’ve doubled our output. And I’m trying to do that again in the space of another month,” says Fred Boyer, production manager for Pulmodyne.

Boyer says the company is familiar with market fluxes, but this level is unprecedented as Pulmodyne is shipping 100,000 products a month.

“We’re continuing to get very large orders today,” says Boyer. “Everyone needs it right now. The desperation is out there.”

A big factor for Pulmodyne is the supply chain. It depends on 50-70 vendors for a variety of parts to produce its masks.

“We got some great vendors and God bless them,” preached Boyer. “When this started to unfold, we didn’t know what would be considered essential.”

Pulmodyne questioned whether its suppliers from other states would be classified that way.

“We didn’t know if a company that sold “O-rings” rings would be essential. They’re essential to us,” says Boyer. “Polybags and boxes, they matter just as much as every piece of the part we’re building.”

Shurig says he’s heard from companies that Pulmodyne had previously never done business.

“Even though our volumes are out of control, sales are out of control, but we probably turned down $10 million worth of business,” says Shurig. “As much as Fred is doing a herculean effort, doubling and doubling again, we’re nowhere close to keeping up with demand.”

Boyer says the company is operating 24 hours a day. He said initially it was doing voluntary overtime. But now it’s necessary.

The veteran production manager says workers who are assembling the units are under pressure to fill orders, but they seem to understand the mission.

“Everybody what needs to be done, our role in this, how important we are. It gives us a great sense of purpose,” says Boyer. “I’ve been doing this a long, long time. And I don’t know that I if ever been more stressed, and yet more purposeful than I do right now.”

Boyer says even when the pandemic begins to wane, he expects demand will continue as governments stockpile their products for future outbreaks. For workers, that means jobs, once considered temporary, may turn into full-time positions.  

“We have orders in house to last until the end of the year,” says Boyer. “That’s been our crisis; trying to get it out quick enough.”

Read the Inside Indiana Business story here:
https://www.insideindianabusiness.com/story/42031876/indy-medical-mask-producer-responds-to-pandemic .