There is nothing like an epidemic that tickles the inventors. So many new needs! So many increased needs! So many old needs have to be revised!
Of course, the main area of creativity in the face masks area is abundant. All 328.2 million people in the United States should wear them, with about 83% (according to Newsweek) actually wearing one. The medical field prefers to wear N59 respirators, but most cloth masks worn around the ears are generally sufficient to block incoming virus droplets. Once the general structure of the mask has been determined to be appropriate, there are many variations. Smiley masks, masks promoting organization through the nose, masks with a clear area so that deaf people can continue to read their lips while their mouth is covered, full face snorkel masks, blinded masks, fuzzy animal masks for children (or adults who do this) still feel like a child,) masks with teeth and mustaches, brightly patterned masks or just plain medical paper masks are worn. Popular neck gaiters, bandanas, and masks with valves are reportedly less effective, and people wearing such masks are not allowed in doctor’s offices and hospitals.
Hospitals and medical practices no longer allow visitors because the patients have to come alone. This has resulted in additional calls from the doctors who have to re-explain the results to the anxious relatives waiting in the wings. This has resulted in increased FaceTime meetings with doctors that can also be used in place of actual office visits. I must confess that these type of visits are my favorite as there is no way to measure my actual weight, which is postponing this discussion with my doctor.
Counseling services have also been on the phone, the need perhaps greater than ever. BH-Link, Anchor Recovery Center, Rhode Island Interfaith Counseling Center, Thrive, and many other organizations are available to listen during these crazy, troubling times.
A variety of new inventions have emerged in the medical field to better care for people with COVID-19. Perhaps the only invention that has directly influenced the transfer rate is the automatic door opener. Although such doors used to be present on hospital wards, they have multiplied as demand has increased. No touch … no virus germs to linger.
A much smaller invention similarly solved a growing need not to offend microorganisms: the big “key” that can be used to open door handles and press the buttons on credit card machines and ATMs. So small and yet so smart!
A television commercial last night promoted the solution of dropping phones and losing bottles of disinfectant in cars: a device that fits into the cup slot with a holder for the phone AND a separate holder for the disinfectant. Only in times like these should both objects always be at hand.
The clear outer tent was invented for those of us who just HAVE to eat out and promise isolation during meals. Some of the fancier ones have a heater inside to solve the other dilemma of dining outside in the cold.
Perhaps my favorite invention was introduced to me in church on Sunday, an invention that made me hit my forehead and complain, “Why didn’t I think about it?” It was the individual host of communion and the wine, neatly wrapped in a tiny plastic cup with a tiny, sealed communion waffle on top. The waffle looked more like a chicklet than a traditional dish, but the feel and meaning were clear. Even during this COVID-19 time, religion is alive and well and, like all other areas of life, makes the necessary inventions to still meet our needs.