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These San Francisco doctors flew to New York to fight the coronavirus — and they have a warning for us

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Dr. Ethan Weiss making his way to New York in late April to treat Covid-19 patients.

Source: Dr. Ethan Weiss

When Dr. Ethan Weiss arrived in New York in late Aprilhe started his first shift almost immediately.

Dr. Weiss is a cardiologist based in San Francisco, which has had relatively few hospitalizations related to Covid-19. He decided to help out with New York’s massive Covid-19 outbreak because he felt helpless sitting at home.

Dr. Weiss was just one of the doctors and nurses from University of California San Francisco’s hospital system who risked their lives by flying out to Manhattan. New York City has now reported more than 20,000 deaths. Another group headed to the Navajo Nation, another hotspot, which has lost 6,000 people to coronavirus.

In total, about 40 doctors and nurses from UCSF across a variety of specialties flew out to Covid-19 hotspots, according to the chairman of medicine, Dr. Bob Wachter. 

It’s now been about a month since Weiss got back to San Francisco. He’s glad that he went, but calls it one of the most challenging experiences of his life. And he’s vexed that so many people still aren’t taking the public health guidelines seriously. 

“I’m in a dark place right now,” he told me by phone in late May. “Everyone is impatient. A lot of people are feeling done with this pandemic. They don’t understand this is how it is going to be for a while.”

Covid-19 is still a major part of the national conversation, but researchers have found growing evidence of a “pandemic fatigue.” Many people are itching for life to resume as normal after months of sheltering in place. Moreover, many states are re-opening shuttered businesses, and President Trump has stated that he’s planning to hold rallies, all which is sending a signal that the pandemic is under control. 

But as of June, Covid-19 is still spreading in the United States. Arizona, Texas and Utah, among other states, are reporting an increase in diagnosed cases and hospitalizations. Epidemiologists and public health experts remain worried.

Now, these doctors are urging anybody who will listen to take the pandemic seriously and keep observing precautions. 

“There’s no way to describe how awful this disease is until you see it,” said Dr. Michelle Yu, a pulmonary and critical care doctor from UCSF, who worked at a hospital in the outer boroughs of New York City. “The nurses kept showing up every day, and they will keep showing up, but you could see the fatigue on their faces.”

“It was just horrible,” added Dr. Weiss. 

Dr. Michelle Yu, in red in the front row, at the New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York on one of her last days treating Covid-19 patients.

Source: Dr. Michelle Yu

Otherwise healthy patients in their forties and fifties

The San Francisco team noticed that the New York providers, who had been dealing with the situation for weeks, were seriously burnt out by the time they arrived. Some weren’t trained to care for patients with severe viral illnesses, but were asked to step in nonetheless.

Dr. Maya Kotas, a pulmonary and critical care doctor from UCSF, found herself working with nurses and physicians assistants who were trained in specialties like neurology or neurosurgery. Many of these providers were learning on the fly. Dr. Yu said she gave lectures to the residents and nurses as frequently as she could. 

One of the most challenging aspects was the lack of clear clinical guidelines for treatments. Scientists still don’t know a lot about the disease.

“I’ve worked in a lot of settings,” said Dr. Michael Peters, a pulmonary critical care doctor, was assigned to a hospital in Queens overwhelmed with Covid-19 cases. “These patients were very sick, and they had a disease that we didn’t know how to take care of yet.”

All of the UCSF doctors said they saw patients in their forties and fifties, who didn’t meet the “typical” profile for Covid-19 because they were otherwise healthy. In the Queens hospital, where Dr. Peters worked, many of the patients were Black or Hispanic. Data shows that the virus has hit racial and ethnic minorities worse, and studies are underway to better understand why.

Dr. Kotas said she was thrown outside of her comfort zone almost immediately once she arrived to New York. She was stationed at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center alongside several colleagues, including Dr. Yu. 

“We are used to dedicated ICUs (intensive care units) with space and equipment,” said Dr. Kotas. “And sliding glass doors to get patients in and out.” But she and her team were constantly facing a shortage of necessary medications, supplies and personnel in their converted ICU, and the patients were extremely isolated to preserve resources. 

“They were alone in their sickness…they didn’t have families see them, and our contact was limited to preserve personal protective equipment,” she explained. “Sometimes we would call to say that a patient had died, and they hadn’t even seen them in three weeks.”

Dr. Maya Kotas volunteering at the New York Presbyterian Hospital during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Source: Beth Higgins

Dr. Weiss said sometimes he would just sit in patients’ rooms for a while just to keep them company, even though they weren’t responsive. Dr. Yu recalled having to Facetime family members to provide updates via the one functional iPad that was being passed around across three ICUs (that’s one iPad for every 36 critically ill patients). He sometimes had to inform them that the patient had died. 

Many of the Covid-19 patients who were on ventilator but survived seemed very frail to the doctors. “People were so weak that they came off a ventilator and three weeks later, they still couldn’t wiggle their toes,” said Dr. Kotas. 

All of the doctors were aware of the risks to their own health, but took their chances. Dr. Yu insisted on doing procedures on her own, such as removing breathing tubes from patients, to reduce the risk that anyone else would be exposed to the virus if it aerosolized.

Fortunately, she and the other doctors tested negative after they returned to California and were able to resume treating patients at home.  

‘I hope we have the stamina’

One of the most devastating aspects of the virus is that it’s known to sweep through families.

Dr. Kotas recalls working with a nurse whose own parents were in the ICU a few floors up at Cornell, and one of them died.

Dr. Weiss immediately observed that many of his patients were related. He doesn’t typically see that in cardiology, where it’s extremely uncommon to see two members of the same family dying of heart disease at the same time. 

None of the doctors are public health experts, so they didn’t feel qualified to advise people about how to stay healthy and safe. But on their return to San Francisco, they all implored their network of friends and family-members to take Covid-19 seriously and listen to the advice of public health officials. They know what happens when health systems get overwhelmed.

“I hope we have the stamina and spirit and sense of collectivism (to avoid outbreaks like New York),” said Dr. Weiss. “If there’s one thing I’d recommend, it’s to keep wearing masks.”

“I know everyone is getting tired,” added Dr. Kotas, who said she’s willing to fly out again to the next potential hotspot if she’s needed. “But please take it seriously. People really suffer when we don’t take care of each other and contagion gets out of control.”

Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/13/san-francisco-doctors-recount-experience-fighting-coronavirus-in-nyc.html

Publications

Security and Sustainability Forum-With Hazel Henderson and Claudine Schneider. 10/22/2020

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Steering Societies Beyond GDP to the SDGs

With Hazel Henderson and Claudine Schneider

October 22, 2020

1:15 pm to 2:15 pm EDT

The next webinar in the SSF series, with ecological economist and futurist Hazel Henderson, will address how the UN SDGs can and should replace GDP as the basis for valuing society leading to an economy based on planet protection and human wellbeing. Claudine Schneider is Hazel’s guest.

GDP accounts for all the public expenditures as “debt” while ignoring the value of the assets they created. If GDP were to be corrected by including the missing asset account, these debt-to-GDP ratios would be cut by up to 50% — with a few keystrokes! Learn why money isn’t what you think it is and why that matters to life on Earth in the next two webinars with Hazel and guests.

Register

Claudine Schneider is a former Republican U.S. representative from Rhode Island. She was the first, and to date only, woman elected to Congress from Rhode Island. She is founder of Republicans for Integrity, which describes itself as a network of “Republican former Members of Congress who feel compelled to remind Republican voters about the fundamentals of our party and to provide the facts about incumbents’ voting records.”

October 22nd webinar with Claudine Schneider and Hazel

Sincerely,

Ed.

Edward Saltzberg, PhD

Executive Director

Security and Sustainability Forum

www.ssfonline.org

[email protected]

Sincerely,

Ed.

Edward Saltzberg, PhD

Executive Director

Security and Sustainability Forum

www.ssfonline.org

Source: https://www.ethicalmarkets.com/63564-2/

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The Briefing: RVShare raises over $100M, Google disputes charges, and more

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Here’s what you need to know today in startup and venture news, updated by the Crunchbase News staff throughout the day to keep you in the know.

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RVShare raises over $100M for RV rentals

RVShare, an online marketplace for RV rentals, reportedly raised over $100 million in a financing led by private equity firms KKR and Tritium Partners.

Akron, Ohio-based RVShare has seen sharp growth in demand amid the pandemic, as more would-be travelers seek socially distanced options for hitting the road. Founded in 2013, the company matches RV owners with prospective renters, filtering by location, price and vehicle types.

Previously, RVShare had raised $50 million in known funding, per Crunchbase data, from Tritium Partners. The company is one of several players in the RV rental space, and competes alongside Outdoorsy, a peer-to-peer RV marketplace that has raised $75 million in venture funding.

Funding news

  • BrightFarms closes on $100M: Indoor farming company BrightFarms said it secured more than $100 million in debt and new equity capital to support expansion plans. The Series E round of funding was led by Cox Enterprises, which now owns a majority stake in the company, and includes a follow-on investment from growth equity firm Catalyst Investors.
  • Anyscale inks $40MAnyscale, the Berkeley-based company behind the Ray open source project for building applications, announced $40 million in an oversubscribed Series B funding round. Existing investor NEA led the round and was joined by Andreessen Horowitz, Intel Capital and Foundation Capital. The new funding brings Anyscale’s total funding to more than $60 million.
  • Klar deposits $15M: Mexican fintech Klar closed on $15 million in Series A funding, led by Prosus Ventures, with participation from new investor International Finance Corporation and existing investors Quona Capital, Mouro Capital and Acrew. The round brings total funding raised to approximately $72 million since the company was founded in 2019. The funds are intended to grow Klar’s engineering capabilities in both its Berlin and Mexico hubs.
  • O(1) Labs rakes in $10.9M: O(1) Labs, the team behind the cryptocurrency Mina, announced $10.9 million in a strategic investment round. Co-leading the round are Bixin Ventures and Three Arrows Capital with participation from SNZ, HashKey Capital, Signum Capital, NGC Ventures, Fenbushi Capital and IOSG Ventures.
  • Blustream bags $3M: After-sale customer engagement company Blustream said it raised $3 million in seed funding for product usage data and digital transformation efforts for physical goods companies via the Blustream Product Experience Platform. York IE led the round of funding for the Worcester, Massachusetts-based company with additional support from existing investors.Pillar secures another $1.5M: Pillar, a startup that helps families protect and care for their loved ones, raised $1.5 million in a seed extension to close at $7 million, The round was led by Kleiner Perkins.

Other news

  • Google rejects DOJ antitrust arguments: In the wake of a widely anticipated U.S. Justice Department antitrust suit against Google, the search giant disputed the charges in a statement, maintaining that: “People use Google because they choose to, not because they’re forced to, or because they can’t find alternatives.”
  • Facebook said to test Nextdoor rival: Facebook is reportedly testing a service similar to popular neighborhood-focused social Nextdoor. Called Neighborhoods, the feature reportedly suggests local neighborhood groups to join on Facebook.

Illustration: Dom Guzman

Venture investors and leaders in the fintech space can visualize a future where such startups will move toward again rebundling services.

Root Inc., the parent company of Root Insurance, launched its initial public offering and is looking at a valuation of as much as $6.34 billion.

Clover Health posted rising revenues and a narrower loss in its most recent financial results, published in advance of a planned public market debut.

Crunchbase News’ top picks of the news to stay current in the VC and startup world.

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/briefing-10-21-20/

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Syte Sees $30M Series C For Product Discovery

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Online shopping has become the norm for most people in 2020, even coaxing traditional retail brands to up their presence to stay competitive. However, now that shoppers can’t see and touch products like they used to, e-commerce discovery has become a crucial element for customer acquisition and retention.

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Enter Syte, an Israel-based company that touts creating the world’s first product discovery platform that utilizes the senses, such as visual, text and voice, and then leverages visual artificial intelligence and next-generation personalization to create individualized and memorable customer experiences, Syte co-founder and CEO Ofer Fryman told Crunchbase News.

To execute on this, the company raised $30 million in Series C funding and an additional $10 million in debt. Viola Ventures led the round and was joined by LG Technology Ventures, La Maison, MizMaa Ventures and Kreos Capital, as well as existing investors Magma, Naver Corporation, Commerce Ventures, Storm Ventures, Axess Ventures, Remagine Media Ventures and KDS Media Fund.

This brings the company’s total fundraising to $71 million since its inception in 2015. That includes a $21.5 million Series B, also led by Viola, in 2019, according to Crunchbase data.

Fryman intends for the new funding to be put to work on product enhancements and geographic expansion. Syte already has an established customer base in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and will now focus expansion in the U.S. and Asia-Pacific.

Meanwhile, Syte has grown 22 percent quarter over quarter, as well as experienced a 38 percent expansion of its customer base since the beginning of 2020.

“Since we crossed $1 million annual recurring revenue, we have been tripling revenue while also becoming more efficient,” Fryman said. “We can accelerate growth as well as build an amazing technology and solution for a business that needs it right now. We plan to grow further, and even though our SaaS metrics are excellent right now, our goal is to improve them.”

Anshul Agarwal, managing director at LG Technology Ventures, said Syte was an attractive investment due in part to its unique technology.

“They have a deep-learning system and have created a new category, product discovery that will enable online shopping in a way we never had the ability to do before,” Agarwal said. “The product market fit was also unique. We believe in the strong execution by the team and the rapid growth in SaaS. We looked at many different companies, and the SaaS metrics that Syte showed are the strongest we’ve seen in a while.”

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias

Venture investors and leaders in the fintech space can visualize a future where such startups will move toward again rebundling services.

Root Inc., the parent company of Root Insurance, launched its initial public offering and is looking at a valuation of as much as $6.34 billion.

Clover Health posted rising revenues and a narrower loss in its most recent financial results, published in advance of a planned public market debut.

Crunchbase News’ top picks of the news to stay current in the VC and startup world.

Source: https://news.crunchbase.com/news/syte-sees-30m-series-c-for-product-discovery/

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