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COVID-19 Updates: Preparing for the “Plateau Phase”; Webinar for Startups Facing Uncertainty

Disclaimer: the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this blog belong solely to the individual author, and not to LabCentral or the author’s employer, organization or committee.

As new hotspots emerge across the Commonwealth, the introduction of a recommended 9 PM to 6 AM curfew in Boston, and urging by state officials for all citizens to wear face coverings in their daily activities, Massachusetts continues to prepare for an anticipated surge in the number of confirmed cases. 

Since enacting mitigation measures four weeks ago, LabCentral still has no confirmed cases of COVID-19 and we’ve seen an average 75.6% decrease in the number of residents on-site at 700 Main Street and an average 85% decrease at 610 Main Street. We attribute this success to our residents’ cooperation to work with us through the logistical and operational challenges our COVID-19 response policies have posed.

Protecting each other

We know that simple face coverings help to slow the spread of the virus, and also help people who may unknowingly have the virus from transmitting it to others. Following the guidance set forth by the Massachusetts state government, LabCentral is now requiring everyone on-site to wear a face covering when in any public spaces in the building, such as hallways, bathrooms, cafes, elevators, stairs, etc. 

To support this effort, LabCentral has procured custom made anti-microbial face coverings and is providing one per resident. Again, we would like to reiterate the necessity of preserving availability of N95 respirator masks for healthcare workers and other medical first responders. 

Adjusting to the new normal

It is widely expected that dealing with the coronavirus will be our new normal for the coming months. Schools and non-essential businesses in the Greater Boston area are currently mandated to remain closed through May 4 and may go on for much longer, potentially for several months.

It is important for us to acknowledge this reality and to prepare our teams and companies for a prolonged shift in business operations for a potential “plateau phase” of dealing with the coronavirus crisis where many restrictions will have to stay in place to avoid overwhelming our health systems since large numbers of our population have not yet developed immunity.

At LabCentral, we continue to solicit feedback on how we can improve our offerings and business continuity for our community while remaining within the response guidelines we already have in place.

Return to work 

All resident companies should consider how to best decrease the spread of COVID-19 within their own spaces beyond just the measures LabCentral has put into place. As we enter this new plateau phase and adjust our workflows to regain a level of productivity, we also urge you to maintain social distancing within your own labs and offices to minimize the risk of transmission within your own teams.

We have seen companies successfully adopt a model of shift work to avoid overcrowding in the laboratories. For that, feel free to use all the hours in the day - LabCentral remains open 24/7. All resident company teams are also asked to help by cleaning and disinfecting frequently used objects and workspaces within their own labs, including benches, keyboards and doorknobs.

Webinar: Advice for Startups Facing Uncertainty

LabCentral’s virtual event series – Innovation & Biotech in the Time of COVID-19 – continues this afternoon at 1:30 p.m. ET with the second event: Advice for Startups Facing Uncertainty. Today’s panel will advise entrepreneurs on what can be done to get through this uncertain time and what the biotech community can do to help. Moderated by LabCentral’s Johannes Fruehauf, the panelists include:

Jo Viney, PhD, Co-Founder, President and CSO at Pandio Therapeutics
Kevin Bitterman, PhD, Partner at Atlas Venture
Sara Nayeem, MD, Partner at New Enterprise Associates (NEA)

Register here for the webinar and a recording will be available for playback.

Update to our April rebate policy

Based on feedback and discussions with residents, we have adjusted our April rebate policy to better reflect that many companies have instituted a shift policy to rotate the lab work, which still has many members come in so we decided to discount all membership fees by 25%. Companies may still elect for a 100% rebate of the resident per-person fee by working entirely remotely.

As always – Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, Stay Home!