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Northwell Testing Heartburn Drug Ingredient As COVID-19 Treatment

Northwell Health researchers are studying a heartburn drug ingredient in treating coronavirus patients.

New Hyde Park-based Northwell Health more than a month ago quietly began a clinical trial of famotodine, an ingredient used in heartburn drug Pepcid, to treat COVID-19 patients.

The 23-hospital system began providing the ingredient intravenously at nine times the dose used to treat heartburn, according to an article in Sciencemag.com. The system said it didn’t announce this trial at the time, even as it announced others, out of a concern that widely publicizing it could lead to problems in securing an intravenous version of the ingredient, after seeing demand surge for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine.

“If we talked about this to the wrong people or too soon, the drug supply would be gone,” Dr. Kevin Tracey, CEO of the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, Northwell Health’s research arm, told ScienceMag.com in an article published Sunday.

This study is in addition to two other clinical trials for coronavirus treatments being conducted at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research that Northwell announced in March.

That website indicated nearly 200 COVID-19 patients in critical status, including those on ventilators, already have been given the medication intravenously as part of a clinical trial targeting nearly 1,200 patients.

Northwell funded the clinical trial initially on its own, after which the U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) provided Florida-based Alchem Laboratories, a medication manufacturer, with $20.7 million to help with the research.

Northwell Health is using an intravenous version of the ingredient rather than the over-the-counter medication used for heartburn. Limited research in China seemed to indicate patients with heartburn on famotidine died at a lower rate than those not on the drug, an observation far from a clinical trial that could result from other factors. Computer modeling also indicated that several dozen medications, including famotidine, could show promise.

Northwell Health ran into an unusual situation as it sought to do a clinical trial of this drug. Since so many people at the time the trial began were being given hydroxychloroquine, itself an unproved treatment, the healthcare system found it needed to include patients receiving that medication in its trial.

Northwell Health is using patients receiving famotidine and hydroxychloroquine, hydroxychloroquine only and patients treated earlier with neither.

The clinical trial has been continuing with results expected to be reported soon.

“If it does work,” Tracey told Sciencemag.com, “we’ll know in a few weeks.”

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Related Story: Northwell Health Initiates Clinical Trials of 2 COVID-19 Drugs

Related Story: FDA OKs Garden City-Based Beyond Air’s Clinical Trial For A New COVID-19 Treatment

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Nurses From Around U.S. Lend Hand As Oxygen, Gown Needs Grow

Northwell Health workers welcomed 46 nurses from across the country to North Shore LIJ Hospital in New Hyde Park. Northwell Health photo.
Nurses from Upstate New York and around the nation are providing some relief to Long Island hospital staff who face large numbers of patients in need of care, even as demand grows for portable oxygen tanks and hospital gowns.
 
Telehealth restrictions have been loosened and credentialing guidelines have been eased, allowing out-of-state nurses, physicians and others to practice in New York State.
 
“This alleviates one burden for the hospitals,” said Kevin Dahill, president and CEO of the Suburban Hospital Alliance.
 
Forty-six nurses from across the country have been placed by Cross Country Nurses, a staffing agency, at the Northwell Health System. Another 22 nurses from the Upstate University Hospital are now working alongside other nurses at Stony Brook University. And upstate hospitals and systems such as Cayuga Health entered into staff leasing arrangements with a New York City-based system, alleviating some of the strain on the workforce.
 
The New York State Department of Health meanwhile has assembled a volunteer pool of 80,000 healthcare workers who answered Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s call to work in the state.
 
“Both hospitals and nursing homes throughout the state are able to draw from this pool, which is coordinated with the assistance of the Healthcare Association of New York State (HANYS),” according to a written statement from the Suburban Hospital Alliance.
 
The state health department reviews licensing and credentialing of workers who come from out of state to work in New York. 
 
HANYS helped facilitate hospitals’ access to the pool, known as NYServes, and to bring in LinkedIn to assist in managing it. About 7,000 workers have been vetted by the state.
 
The Alliance, however, said, there “continues to be a demand for gowns and masks at the region’s hospitals.”
 
“We are hearing that gowns are in need,” according to Janine Logan, a spokeswoman for the Alliance. “With hospitals running at full capacity, staff are donning and doffing gowns at an accelerated pace. A shortage of impermeable isolation gowns has developed.”
 
Supply needs and availability shift with the patient population, caseload and demand from other parts of the country, according to the group.
 
There is also an increasing need for portable oxygen tanks as some COVID-19 patients eligible for discharge require oxygen to continue their recovery at home, the group added.
 
“Patients who experienced respiratory difficulties while in the hospital, but whose issues did not require the level of a ventilator, are now improving and recovering,” Logan said. “These individuals are discharged and sent home, but still need portable oxygen to continue their recovery.”
 
Discharges from hospitals are fueling portable oxygen needs and a need for the equipment to provide the oxygen. There is a limited number of suppliers of this equipment, and facilities need the same product.
 
The Alliance said hundreds of waivers have been approved by the state and the federal government to loosen restriction on hospitals and other healthcare providers, while  “meeting all quality and infection control standards and state and federal oversight requirements,” according to the Alliance.
 
New York State has set up a hospital coordination center to manage the needs of workers from out of state.
 
Cuomo also is using state-owned college dormitories for various purposes related to the pandemic.
 
The federal government’s coronavirus website and New York State Department of Health website provide additional information for healthcare providers and the public.
 
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Long Island Researchers Studying Immune System Overreaction in Most Severe COVID-19 Cases

The researchers are looking at whether “overactive immune cells” produce Neutrophil Extracellular Traps or NETs, which may be responsible for the most severe cases.

Researchers on Long Island are looking at whether the body’s own immune system’s overreaction can be leading to the most severe COVID-19 cases, which could open the door to different treatments.

Northwell Health, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory and nine other medical research institutions are studying whether an overreaction by white blood cells may cause the most severe cases of coronavirus, potentially leading to additional treatments.

The researchers are looking at whether “overactive immune cells” produce Neutrophil Extracellular Traps or NETs, which may be responsible for the most severe cases.

The group of institutions, known as the NETwork, on Long Island includes Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, Northwell’s Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research and the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell.

A paper published last week in the Journal of Experimental Medicine concluded that patients with COVID-19 infection sometimes develop Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome  or ARDS, pulmonary inflammation, thick mucus secretions in the airways, extensive lung damage and blood clots. 

“This late stage of the disease is difficult to manage,” according to Northwell. “In the worst cases, patients require invasive mechanical ventilation, and still, a large number of patients die.”

This condition, however, may result from overactive white blood cells or neutrophils that, in the body’s effort to battle the infection, can damage lungs and other organs.

“We propose that excess NETs may play a major role in the disease,” said Betsy Barnes, lead author of the paper and professor at the Feinstein Institutes. “It will be important to determine whether the presence of NETs associates with disease severity and/or particular clinical characteristics of COVID-19.”

NETs can lead to mucus in cystic fibrosis patients’ airways and acute respiratory distress syndrome or ARDS in flu or influenza.

If findings show excess NETs cause severe symptoms of COVID-19, Northwell said a new “avenue of treatments may be deployed to help COVID-19 patients,” reducing the need for intubation.

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Some Long Island Companies Thrive in Pandemic Economy

With kids home from school amid the coronarivus pandemic, many parents are telecommuting. (Getty Images)

Ever since the coronavirus outbreak disrupted daily life, New Era Technology’s phones began ringing off the hook as companies sought them out for improved telecom and video conferencing so workers could telecommute to avoid contagion.  

Disney closed parks, major league sports seasons were suspended, the stock market crashed, schools were shuttered, and states of emergency were declared in local municipalities and nationally. But if this has been the worst of times from Wall Street to Main Street, certain businesses have seen, if not the best of times, surges in revenue. Telecom, delivery, sanitizers, drive-throughs, cleaning, and healthcare providers are all experiencing, for better or worse, rising demand.

“We’re busy,” says Zig Fekete, New Era Technology executive client manager in Islandia. “People are getting nervous and want to keep their employees safe, keeping them at home — and not letting employees who might be infected bring that infection back to the office.”

The coronavirus is leading to infections as well as seismic changes in behavior, as technology and remote access sometimes replace being there.

“You can do anything you can at the office other than stand around the water cooler and talk to everybody,” Fekete says. “We’re doing a lot more videoconferencing, instead of hand-to-hand combat, to avoid contact in spreading the virus.”

Louis Biscotti, Marcum LLP’s food and beverage practice leader, says that while restaurants, hospitality, catering, and travel take hits, delivery and some food makers are going strong. 

“Delivery companies and big processed food companies [are doing well] as people are stocking up on staple goods,” Biscotti says.

The grocery hoarders are also boosting retailer sales.

“Small grocery stores and distributors are also seeing a surge in profits as customers stockpile for a quarantine scenario,” says Joe Camberato, president and co-founder of National Business Capital & Services, a small-business loan broker.

There is a huge rush for healthcare services, as people seek insight into whether they might be infected. 

“Privately owned walk-in medical clinics and urgent care facilities are experiencing a surge in symptomatic visitors,” Camberato says. 

Family Affair Distributing, which provides promotional products, decorated apparel, and printing services, saw a boost in orders for hand sanitizer branded with company names before supply dried up.

“Some of the last orders went in last week,” says Lisa Chalker, the company’s CEO. “Then the whole industry got hit. Our suppliers are inundated. They ran out of stock.”

The shutdown of trade shows reduced demand for promotional items and Chinese factories shut down, making it impossible to order many products. 

“Because all the factories are closed, I can’t take on a job that’s a custom order,” Chalker says of certain custom products such as phone charger key chains. “A lot of conventions and trade shows are not happening now. That means my business clients may not have the need for trade show items which I help them with.”

Plastic bag bans, however, created an opportunity to make canvas bags with business names. 

“Now people need tote bags,” Chalker says. “These are great ideas for my clients to give to their clients. It’s a great way to put out their brand to clients.”

Camberato says some “lenders are placing limitations on highly affected industries like restaurants, travel, retail, and entertainment” because they’re less likely to generate the cash to pay off loans. 

“It’s certainly still possible to get funding,” he says, “but being in an industry or location affected by the virus makes it significantly more difficult.”

Chalker says promoting when others pause can position companies for revenues when business returns. 

“In marketing, when you have a thing like this and you’re still visible, people perceive you as a stronger company,” she says. “When you come out of it, they’ll go to companies that stayed strong through that perilous time.”

New Era, meanwhile, says manufacturers such as Cisco and Avaya are giving away audio/videoconferencing software to not-for profits for extended time periods, to curb travel and boost productivity.

Fekete said he’s doing a lot of selling, making phone calls, but not visiting potential clients quite the way he once did.

“No more door knocks,” Fekete adds. “It’s going to be phone calls and emails until, of course, it’s safe to come out.”

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Long Island Mask Maker Crosstex Working Overtime To Meet Demand

Hauppauge-based Crosstex makes in-demand masks.

Crosstex is busy on an ordinary day, but these have been extraordinary times for the Hauppauge-based brand of HuFriedyGroup that manufactures masks.

Little Falls, N.J.-based Cantel Medical owns HuFriedyGroup, its dental arm, which includes the Crosstex brand, systems to maintain and sterilize dental equipment, dental towels, bibs, hand sanitizer, and other products. Crosstex, with operations predominantly on Long Island, has ramped up to about 4 million masks a week, including a smaller operation in Rochester where two more manufacturing lines were added. The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted some global supply chains abroad and boosted demand for Crosstex’s masks.

“At the outset of this crisis, we ramped up all of our production,” HuFriedyGroup President Ken Serota says. “We are currently running basically 24 hours, seven days a week in order to keep up with demand.”

That’s up from five days a week and 12 hours a day for the company that supplies distributors, such as Melville-based Henry Schein.

“Our customers are primarily dental offices,” Serota said, noting that Crosstex doesn’t sell directly to consumers. “They [masks] will provide protection from the transmission of aerosolized particles (minuscule particles suspended in the air) consistent with the level masks are indicated.”

Crosstex, founded in 1953, supplies dental products sold in about 100 countries. HenrySchein.com called masks “currently the most sought-after item” and expects “shortages to persist.”

“The increase in demand we’re seeing is in large part because the production of the majority of these is overseas,” Serota says. “Given the onset of the virus in China, the flow of product from China has been cut off to a significant extent.”

Crosstex uses what it calls SecureFit technology designed to make the mask fit and work better.

“That is unique technology,” Serota says. “That’s critically important to get maximum protection.”

He says the company has orders beyond the fall as companies seek to lock in production in advance. 

“Demand for personal protective equipment is crazy high,” Serota says, adding that the company is “100 percent subscribed for our inventory on hand sanitizer.”

“These are trying times for everyone,” Serota says. “We’re committed to doing everything we can to supply the dental industry with PPE (personal protective equipment) products.”

As to masks used to boost security against the virus, Serota says people should heed U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and not expose themselves to greater risk because of the products.

“Common sense is first and foremost,” he adds. “Social distancing. Avoid putting yourself in at-risk areas. Avoid crowds. Those are all critically important.”

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Long Island Real Estate Market Weathers One Storm, Faces Another

Spring is typically peak residential real estate sale season on Long Island. (Getty Images)


 The Long Island residential real estate industry had a good run in 2019 and in early 2020, fueled by low interest rates and low unemployment and despite limitations on state and local tax deductions, with robust demand and sometimes shrinking supply. 

The coronavirus outbreak, however, has cast a cloud on real estate as well as other industries since March, nearly erasing the rosy picture of life B.C. — before coronavirus — amid growing uncertainty. Springtime is normally the strongest season for home sales.

“The entry level marketplaces and the bread-and-butter price ranges are very active,” Ann Conroy, CEO of Douglas Elliman Real Estate’s Long Island Division, said in early March. “The buyers are out there. People have jobs. The unemployment rate is very low. And interest rates are very low. As long as there’s affordability, you’ll have an active market.”

Home sales closed in Nassau and Suffolk in 2019 reached 29,053 valued at $15.8 billion in a banner year, according to the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island.

“What sold for X in 2018 wasn’t going to sell for X plus 10 percent in 2019,” Deirdre O’Connell, CEO of Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty, said. “It took a while for homeowners to make adjustments in pricing that was more realistic.”

This year started on a high note with the January 2020 median home price for Long Island (including Nassau, Suffolk and Queens) closed sales at $480,000 up 6.4 percent over the prior year, according to the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island.

Nassau’s median closing price was $532,250, up 1.4 percent from $525,000 a year ago, according to MLSLI. Suffolk’s median reported closing price in January was $401,750, up 5.7 percent from $380,000 a year ago. 

Median sales in Nassau and Suffolk (excluding the Hamptons and North Fork) were $450,000 according to Douglas Elliman Real Estate’s Quarterly Survey of Residential Sales 2019, provided by Miller Samuel Inc. appraisers and consultants, including condo and one- to three-family sales).

Low interest rates helped fuel higher home prices, providing a big boost. Rates fell to as low as about 3.5 percent for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage as of mid-March, according to Bankrate.com. O’Connell said she “entered 2020 optimistic,” with units under contract entering this year up 26 percent.

“Interest rates came down. Sellers are more realistic,” O’Connell said, noting the public has grown accustomed to the new State And Local Tax (SALT) deduction cap. “The SALT laws have become our new normal.”

Douglas Elliman’s report indicated that Long Island (excluding the Hamptons and North Fork) “listing inventory fell to a record low as sales and prices continued to rise” in 2019.

“The scarcity of supply has pressed prices higher for an extensive period,” according to the Douglas Elliman report.

Properties remained on the market for 72 days since listing in 2019, flat with 2018, but down from 117 in 2010, according to Douglas Elliman.

“The buying trends have been different than ten years ago,” Conroy said. “People like to live close to transportation now and vibrant towns.”

The coronavirus, and the reactions to it, put a big question mark over real estate and the region.

“Nobody, regardless of your crystal ball, can predict,” Conroy said.

O’Connell agreed it’s hard to tell how this infection will impact the real estate industry long term.

“I don’t know what kind of access homeowners will give us to homes,” O’Connell said. “I think the year should end OK, but I believe we’re going to have some bumps in the middle. This is a world event, not a local event.”

Providing open access to residences amid coronavirus concerns could become an issue.  “We had a good weekend with open houses, but I’m seeing questions from my agents,” O’Connell said in early March. “What are we going to do about open houses? The impact is ahead of us.”

Investors could rush to real estate, reassured by the value of a tangible asset.“They (interest rates) are historically low,” Conroy said. “Look at the volatility of the stock market. What is the best place to invest your money? It’s in real estate.”

Real estate could provide a refuge for those seeking to invest, but also could be impacted by the economic downturn.

“I think people who are broad-minded will see this as a time of opportunity, a time to lock in for 30 years at an amazing interest rate,” O’Connell said. “We entered the year really positive. The coronavirus is an unknown factor. We hope the year will end as it started.”

O’Connell said “Confidence is everything,” adding that she hopes Long Island real estate will weather the coronavirus storm as it has weathered other forces.

“Bricks and mortar are solid,” O’Connell said. “You can hold it. You can feel it. Long term, we’re going to be fine.”

Northwell Health Adapting Med Device As Ventilator

Drs. Stanley John, Hugh Cassiere, and Todd Goldstein converted a BiPAP to a ventilator and and shared instruction on how to 3D print a hard-to-find t-valve that others will need to replicate the efforts. Credit: Northwell Health.

Northwell Health is converting a medical device used for sleep apnea and other conditions into a ventilator to increase the number of ventilators available to its patients, throughout New York, and nationwide.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo today referred to Northwell Health’s transformation of a medical device into a ventilator as an example of innovation in an effort to be prepared in the event of an ongoing surge of COVID-19 patients.

The Manhasset-based health system said one of its physicians, a respiratory therapist, and 3D printing bioengineer together developed a system to convert a device known as a bi-level positive airway pressure or BiPAP.

Northwell Health said it’s able to transform a BiPAP into a “functional invasive mechanical ventilator” through a 3D printed adaptor.

A BiPAP or positive airway pressure machine is used to maintain consistent breathing for people with sleep apnea, congestive heart failure or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Dr. Hugh Cassiere, medical director for respiratory therapy services at North Shore University Hospital, and Stanley John, NSUH’s director of respiratory therapy, developed the method to convert the Philips Respironics V60 BiPAP into a ventilator.

“I knew we could develop a way to repurpose and convert these machines to save hundreds of lives,” Dr. Cassiere said in a statement.

Northwell Health said it “has an adequate supply of ventilators for its patients,” but is seeking more to prepare for “a likely surge.”

The organization said it has a good supply of BiPAP machines across its 23 hospitals and, “faced with a surge when ventilators numbers do get low,” it believes converting these machines could help.

Dr. Cassiere and John collaborated with Northwell Health’s 3D Design and Innovation department to make a 3D-printed adapter.

“We were able to imitate the design of the T-piece adapter and print the plastic-resin piece with our 3D printers,” said Todd Goldstein, Northwell Health’s director of 3D design and innovation. “If the need arises, we would be able to print 150 adaptors in 24-hours.”

Northwell Health said it can share the new protocols to convert the BiPAP machines and T-adapter 3D print designs.

Chembio Distributing 15-Minute COVID-19 Test in U.S.

Chembio test

Hauppauge-based Chembio Diagnostics said it is launching a 15-minute COVID-19 test in the United States with shipments slated to begin this month.

The company, which specializes in making tests for infectious diseases, in a press release said it is launching its rapid DPP COVID-19 serological point-of-care test that detects antibodies related to the disease. Results can be obtained within 15 minutes after pricking a finger by using analyzers that are produced by Chembio in Germany.

“Our measured approach has positioned us to offer a viable and sustainable long-term solution for clinicians,” CEO Richard Eberly said. “We expect to begin shipping product in April 2020.”

The test can determine whether patients have been exposed to the novel coronavirus, even if they have no symptoms, whether a person is infectious and could possibly transmit the infection to another person. And it can determine whether a person had been infected but is no longer able to transmit the virus. 

Eberly added the company will continue to work with its partner LumiraDx to provide “COVID-19 tests with the ability to scale based upon market demand.”

“By joining forces and bringing together the best of these two companies, we believe we will become the chosen approach for the detection and monitoring of the COVID-19 virus, which has become a worldwide pandemic,” LuminaDx CEO Ron Zwanziger said earlier.

The company said the test will be distributed as authorized by the United States Food and Drug Administration’s notification process under the public health emergency guidance issued on March 16.

“This is another example of Chembio’s ability to respond in an expeditious manner to global pandemics with differentiated solutions,” Chembio Director Gail Page said, citing tests for Zika and Ebola.

Other companies also have developed and are beginning to use 15-minute tests, as quick detection becomes a priority in order to identify infection and stem its spread.

Henry Schein To Distribute Rapid COVID-19 Tests

Melville-based Henry Schein is gearing up to ship COVID-19 tests to physicians, hospitals, and other healthcare providers that can give results within 15 minutes from blood taken with a pinprick.

The Standard Q COVID-19 IgM/IgG Rapid Test, made by South Korea-based SD Biosensor is intended to be administered at the point of care. Henry Schein anticipates having at least several hundred thousand tests available by March 30 and “significantly increased availability” as of April and intends to add tests from VelocityDX and other suppliers.

“This pandemic is an unprecedented situation and making rapid diagnostic tools available to healthcare professionals is critical for detecting and mitigating the spread of the coronavirus,” Henry Schein CEO Stanley Bergman said in a written statement.

Hauppauge-based Chembio Diagnostics recently announced it reached a deal to provide its rapid tests in Brazil, but at that time hadn’t begun to make them available in the United States.

Rapid diagnostic tests are seen as an important element in detecting the disease, including people with symptoms, those who have contracted the virus and overcome it and those who are asymptomatic.

SD Biosensor’s rapid test, as well as some others being developed, detects antibodies associated with the 2019 novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) in blood drawn with a pinprick.

Henry Schein said the tests can help assess “the likelihood of past as well as present infection” and diagnose the mid- to later stages of the viral infection and ” along with the presence of symptoms, help determine if someone has recovered from the virus.”

Henry Schein, however, said “follow-up testing with a molecular diagnostic should be considered to confirm or rule out infection.”

“Results from antibody testing should not be used as the sole basis to diagnose or exclude SARS-CoV2 infection to to inform infection status,” SD Biosensor says on its website.

SD Biosensor developed four diagnostic kits to detect novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. Its Standard M nCOV Real-Time Detection kit was approved in South Korea n February.

SD Biosensor said the test “is already playing an important role as a confirmation method for COVID-19 in the Korean domestic market.”

“There is urgent need for rapid testing to quickly identify large numbers of previously infected patients, including asymptomatic carriers,” Henry Schein added. “This is important to reduce and prevent virus transmission, assure timely treatment of patients, and help return our citizens to the workforce.”

Henry Schein said these tests are not required to go through FDA’s typical clearance or approval processes and do not require an Emergency Use Authorization.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on March 16 established a policy of “not objecting to the development and distribution by commercial manufacturers of serology tests that identify antibodies to SARS-CoV-2,” even if they don’t have an Emergency Use Authorization.

The FDA said it initiated this policy because “serology tests are less complex than molecular tests and are solely used to identify antibodies to the virus.”

Companies can attest to the accuracy of their own tests without bringing in the FDA or a third party to validate them.

“Because of the public health emergency, FDA has issued guidance where it has effectively waived its opportunity to conduct an independent review,” Henry Schein said.

Risks include possible incorrect test results. Negative results do not rule out SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) infection and molecular tests should be considered to rule out infection, according to both companies.

Positive results may be due to past or present infection with non-SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus strains, such as coronavirus HKU1, NL63, OC43, or 229E, or past or present infection with SARS virus (no. 6), Henry Schein added.

“Our initial focus is on the U.S. market and we will address the potential to distribute the tests to other geographies at a later date,” Henry Schein said.

Bohemia-Based Company Innovates ‘Digital Twin’ of LaGuardia Airport

SITA Lab Director Gustavo Pina demonstrates the digital twin of LaGuardia Airport.

While backhoes, trucks and construction workers rebuild a new LaGuardia Airport, a company’s Long Island office has quietly constructed a digital double or “twin” of an entire terminal to provide, visualize, and manage data, achieving efficiencies, and savings.

SITA, the global airline and airport information technology company, has built a digital twin or interactive image of a terminal that can provide information in real time for LaGuardia Airport Terminal B to better visualize and manage the terminal.

“The digital twin was born in Bohemia,” says Anthony Natale, SITA’s vice president, Northeast United States, Canada, and Bermuda. “It came up in a conversation with a customer and evolved to a new indispensable tool for airport operations teams.”

A touch screen displaying the terminal can be manipulated to provide images as well as in-depth information regarding wait times, queues, airline arrivals, weather, cleaning, and much more. A form of the technology is also used in another transportation industry, where data has long been streamed instantaneously, due to the demands for speed.

“The digital twin is a concept that emerged from Formula One racing,” says Kevin O’Sullivan, lead engineer for SITA’s digital twin. “They get detailed telemetry about their car. They can have a virtual or digital replica of that car and simulate models on their computers.”

Expanding that concept to an airport with so many activities, wasn’t an easy task. But at LaGuardia, the digital twin is up and running for one terminal, filled with and providing data.

“We’re taking that digital twin concept, having detailed telemetry and live streaming data, and applying that to a whole airport campus,” O’Sullivan says. “We take a total airport management view, flight events, security wait time, passenger feedback, passenger capacity in terminal arrival buildings. We visualize that in a 3-D map of LaGuardia Airport.”
He calls the digital twin a dashboard in the “operations control room of LaGuardia, like a NASA command room,” with everything able to run on an 86-inch touch screen, giving a centralized view of what happens at the airport.

“We’re just scratching the surface of the capabilities of a twin, as we continuously monitor and build the historical data of the operations,” Natale says. “With machine learning and predictive capacity, we’ll be able to better forecast what a day of operations would look like to better adjust.”