COVID-19: Let us not forget the hopeful news, part three

Once again, we bring you hopeful news that shows us the door to freedom from the ravages of COVID-19 and the good that humans do in times of crisis. The amount of hopeful news is accelerating. Good news unto itself.
Written by Paul Greenberg, Contributor

First, I am so sorry that week No. 3 of LUNFTHN is showing up early in week No. 4. I published something else last week on hope, human ingenuity, and 13th-century science to show that humanity has always solved problems, and at the same time, it has been able to innovate at extraordinary levels when needed. Sadly, not that many of you bothered to read it. It was long and on an arcane subject that perhaps only me and a few others are interested in, but the lessons are real and unmistakable. The good in humanity always wins over its evil. Read it if you can find the time.

But I'm back in week four, and the amount of hopeful news is starting to accelerate and accumulate, which is hopeful unto itself. So, without further ado.

Crisis: Trends

  1. I wasn't sure where to put this one, but ultimately, because it involves nation-states, I put it here. French President Emmanuel Macron said that he got backing for a "world truce" from four of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- that means France, the US, China, and the UK. He is hopeful that Putin will back it, too. 

Crisis: Antibodies, vaccines, treatment

  1. Beaumont Health, the largest health system in Michigan, is testing 38,000 of its employees and also doctors, nurses, and others working on the frontlines for the novel coronavirus antibodies. This is the largest test in the US -- and one that is being looked at for some more definitive results.
  2. Houston Methodist is the first academic hospital in the US to start testing the coronavirus plasma treatments. The linked article goes through not only the human story of one patient but also has the data on the expansion to 1,046 sites that have been dedicated to plasma treatment testing. 
  3. Gilead Sciences reports that Remdesivir has proven effective in a 125-patient trial in Chicago. Of the 125, 113 were severe cases and almost all of them were well enough shortly after the treatment to go home.
  4. I'm not even going to comment on this one. CNN has a valuable aggregation of what is going on in the battle for treatment and vaccines and there a lot. Here it is.

Crisis: Technology industry working to beat the virus

As I have been making clear to all the companies that I know or have communicated with throughout this crisis, they will be judged after this is over on what they did during the crisis. There is no "let's get back to what it was" at this point. I am happy to say the tech industry has been stepping up for the most part throughout.

Here are some of the initiatives that are on the table recently.

  1. Salesforce Care has been busy not only building and releasing applications but also securing medical supplies and providing inspiration -- landing a 747 in NY loaded with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Think 50 million PPEs already collected and distributed and more to come. Watch Marc Benioff talking about this with Jim Cramer on April 8.
  2. Creatio has been working along similar lines as both ServiceNow and SAP, making sure that the back office operations function at this mission-critical time. In late March, it released Creatio, a customer center edition for free for six months to any organization that is fighting the COVID-19 scourge. If you are interested, go here to get it and get provisioned.
  3. Oracle and Larry Ellison are working with the White House, FDA, and other agencies to build a database and data center that will track every case of COVID-19. According to an extensive article in Forbes, Larry Ellison offered up this for free to the federal government: "The doctors will register every COVID-19 case being treated with medication on the Oracle-built website. The system will then send daily emails, to the doctor or the patient, to ask for a progress report on symptoms." This is under construction though still awaiting some permissions.
  4. Medallia, one of the leading engagement focused technology companies, is working in conjunction with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) by providing the feedback engine and management for getting coronavirus-related information such as this survey on the impact of COVID-19 on global business. I'm presuming that it was done for free, though there is no mention of that anywhere. I know Medallia CEO Leslie Stretch, one of the better ones in the business, and that would be right up his alley. Here is the ICC-WHO joint statement (with a downloadable document if you want it).
  5. The utility industry is not just keeping the lights on but participating in making sure that citizens/customers are protected and safe during this time. Utility companies are working to make sure that what may be the single most vital link in the chain -- the power grid is working at all costs. For example, ISO, the operator of NY's power grid, has employees voluntarily isolated/sequestered to make sure that the power grid is working nonstop (its business continuity plan). Employees are working 12-hour shifts and sleeping away from their families to see that NY functions even as the epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis in the US. On the other end of the spectrum, First Energy Foundation donated a million dollars to food banks and the United Way. This just touches on the effort that utility companies are making. This comes from a really good aggregate of what the utility companies are doing during the crisis -- put together by Oracle Senior Content Specialist Stephen Hill. Read it and get a sense of the heroic and important efforts being made.
  6. Microsoft's effort has grown by magnitudes since it decided to provide Microsoft Teams premium for free. The scope of this effort is staggering -- ranging from outright grants to healthcare bots to business continuity and crisis management operations support and supply chain, to a unique research data set to track and help cure COVID-19, to a $20 million gift from its AI for Health to support COVID 19 Data analysis. Your best bet is to take a look at this page, which aggregates some of what it is doing, and you realize it is making a breathtaking effort.

Crisis: Other institutions there to help

I may be in technology, and thus that's the focus I bring here, but there is so much good that is being done to aid those who are in the fight for their lives and to support the planet that it almost makes me cry tears of joy.

  1. Beyond Burger is been working with food banks and other non-profits to provide vegetable burgers to an unlimited number of people in need in the Feed A Million+ effort. It is asking those who eat Beyond Burgers (I do, but I'm more of an Impossible Burger fan, though it'd better do something to keep my allegiance) to nominate non-profits that want Beyond Burgers, and it will pick them and do that, accordingly. Check out ambassador tweets/videos -- Kevin, Lindsey Vonn, et al.

Crisis: People doing wonderful personal things

One of the hallmarks of the coronavirus crisis is that volumes are being written on how the human connection is more important than ever. Oddly, it's not more important than ever; it's always been the foundation of human civilization. We want to be recognized and cared for as part of the lives of others and return the same.

This hopeful news segment is highlighting not necessarily the people on the front lines but just human beings who are trying to cope with this crisis. When you see video after video and read post after post on what people are doing amid all this devastation -- they aren't just coping but often flourishing.

These are strangers to most of us. But they reflect what I know about people: They are remarkable, driven by love more often than by hatred, and infinitely creative in ordinary times, times of crisis, and when new norms are being created and mainstreamed. While it isn't a moment to celebrate, we can always celebrate the power of the human spirit -- it gets us through and makes us better. Some examples this week:

  1. One person who has been immensely helpful in showing the "human" side (meaning not just the business credentials or the celebrity status) of people has been enterprise technology heavyweight influencer/analyst and friend Vinnie Mirchandani. He's had two blogs for a long time: Deal Architect, where he covers the enterprise technology trends, but the one that has captivated me forever has been his New Florence, New Renaissance blog, which is dedicated to the human culture at its grandest historic scale and the individual human level. It's dedicated to achievement -- societal and personal. Recently, he has been running a great series on the hobbies of people he knows in the tech industry. The range of interests has been spectacular and the passions remarkable. For the general series, feel free to click on the links above. 
  2. I want to highlight one well-respected person in the technology industry: VP of corporate communications at Zoho Sandy Lo. She is an accomplished, classically trained pianist, and she "taped" six "Music in Quarantine" clips of her playing music -- ranging from Dear Evan Hansen's "You Will Be Found" (see below) to Mozart's Sonata No. 11. To get all the clips, click here. This one is a small part of Mozart's Sonata No. 11, which many will recognize. It's about time you listened to classical music.
  3. Another of the wonderful, sweet things, that is almost as thematic as the parks that are in play here, is the recreation of Disneyland and Disney characters that a lot of dads are doing for their kids. It's always the better part of human nature when a parent does something for the love of his or her kids. In Irwin Pennsylvania, Dad Jesus Torres built the "It's a Small World Ride" for his daughter 18-month-old daughter Isla, complete with a car made out of a box. For the video of the story and just for nothing more than watching the little girl clap as she is driven in her box, it's worth clicking here. Equally as wonderful and of course Disney themed, is what Brian Morris in Lutz, Florida did for his daughters using nothing more than chalk and sidewalks. He drew outstanding renditions of Disney characters, like Lady and the Tramp, Baby Yoda, Ariel, on sidewalk tiles. Not only is he delighting his kids but he's also delighting the neighbors. The guy is a construction worker by day, part-time artist by night, and a world-class dad. Plus, he's good at it. If you want to see the story, go here. If you'd like to see his work all in all, here's his Facebook page.

Disney meets the street... OK, sidewalk.

Crisis: Useful information

As always, some relatively random but helpful (close to hopeful...) stuff.

  1. Live events are, at this moment, gone, which I think is pretty obvious. But that means that digital events or virtual events are of paramount importance. The irascible, influential, and cool guy, Jon Reed, editor at diginomica, is a significant player in the enterprise tech world. He gives out some amazing not tips -- really a loosely constructed blueprint -- for running effective digital events. Remember, they don't have to replace live events. They have their own impact if done right. So, do them right. Read what Jon (@jonerp on Twitter) has to say about what to do.
  2. Working from home is now so prevalent it's become an acronym: WFH. But one of the unusual benefits of it has been the cost-effectiveness of that way of working, crisis or not. Here is research data from Global Workplace Analytics on the cost, psychic, and ancillary benefits of WFH. This was pre-COVID-19 data. What makes this particularly interesting is due to COVID-19 research, it has the data for WFH as the crisis goes on and a post-coronavirus forecast here. It is worth comparing the two (even though there is no 1:1 comparison that they provide. Just print out or view both reports)  
  3. While the title of this Forbes article -- How to Know if You've Already Had a COVID-19 Coronavirus Infection --  is a little bit not so great at all and even sort of disingenuous, the discussion of how the antibodies evolve and the serum works is exceptionally clear. 

Musical hit of the week

There is a tie this week. The best of humanity just comes out in music, doesn't it?  I'm going to continue the Sandy Lo theme of Broadway and classical. But I couldn't decide between two, so here they are.


This is from the March 31 James Corden Late Night show. James Corden speaks from his heart -- though to be honest, the guy is normally so funny that I wondered if he was setting up a bit, but no. To help us through this, he had Ben Platt (star of Dear Evan Hansen and a really good Netflix series, The Politician) and the cast of Dear Evan Hansen sing "You Will Be Found." Lovely.


This was one of the most moving and ethereal things I've ever seen. Andre Bocelli, the incredible operatic God-on-Earth, did a free 30-minute concert called Music for Hope, in the empty Duomo di Milano. But, even more amazing, he then walked outside of the Cathedral and did a rendition of Amazing Grace to an empty city of Milan. It's worth watching the whole thing, but if you want to just listen to and see Amazing Grace, jump to 18:38 on the video. Watch and be wondrous no matter where you start.

Corona Cover of the week

There is no doubt that 2012 The Voice finalist Chris Mann is the most talented of all the Corona Cover artists out there. Great voice, brilliant lyrics, best produced, and the guy is funny. Not surprising. He's already a well-known singer. He's so good at these (my name for it, I think) Corona Covers that I'm doing two of these.

First up, My Corona. If you can't guess what it's a take-off on, shanda! (That means shame in Yiddish for the goyim out there). This is awesome. Next up, Madonna's Vogue Corona style -- "Stay Home Vogue." This one dates some of you though it doesn't date me. I'm way older.

John Krasinski SGN No. 3 (aka best humor of the week)

I was going to hunt for the funniest bit of the week, but when it boils down to it, John Krasinski is likely to win that category every week. So…

I started my posting when he started his show. He is funnier than I am. He is also better connected than I am. But, to his detriment, he is a Red Sox fan. Once again (see Patriots reference last week), in the interests of species solidarity, I am going to put up John Krasinski's show despite a gratuitous slap at the Yankees. Because as you will see, the Red Sox did something nice for some of our frontline workers, as did David Ortiz. And to John Krasinski, who is increasingly building something worth keeping around even after the crisis -- not only a truly good show but a vehicle for a connection to people.

That's it for this week. Always great to end with John Krasinski. 

But one more announcement.

CRM Playaz presents the Playaz Place Bar and Not Grill Happy Hour

If you are interested in joining the hit event The CRM Playaz Present: Playaz Place Bar and Not Grill Happy Hour any time in the next 38 weeks, here is a link to register. Warning: We are sold out (don't worry its a free ticket) for April 15 and April 22 and for April 29. We have other weeks available, but there are some seats taken through July 20. Beyond this month, seats are remaining. If you are interested, the Happy Hour is 3:30pm ET every Wednesday. Bring a glass of a drinkable liquid with you. You will be asked about it.

We will be announcing some super cool stuff throughout the Happy Hour (called, by some of the attendees, the Magic Hour), though for those of you who are willing to date themselves, I'm not a big fan of that, because if you do remember, Magic Johnson had a TV show called the Magic Hour that lasted all of six episodes and was the only thing that I think he ever failed at. Thus, the Happy Hour it stays. Come join us. All are welcome.

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