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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

From 'Walking Pods' To Protective Barriers, Inventors Reconfigure Products To Stop COVID-19

Under the Weather
New products from Under the Weather include this desk pod and the intubation pod (pictured below) to protect medical workers.

Without a treatment or vaccine for COVID-19, a handful of recent surveys find most people are uncomfortable with the idea of returning to work. But a couple of local inventors are repurposing their products and inventing new ones that may help protect employees from getting the virus.

For Kelly Mahan, president of Under the Weather, it was a no-brainer to market the company's "walking pod" as a way to help guard against the coronavirus. Her company also invented the "desk pod" and the "intubation pod."

"So the intubation pod is a smaller pod," Mahan explains. "It's the same design. It folds flat and pops up quickly. It's made with the same PVC materials that we use for our outdoor pods and it's designed to fit over the head of a patient." She says it has an opening in the back and on the sides for access by medical personnel.

Credit Under the Weather
Under the Weather says it's selling the intubation pod as fast as it gets them.

Firefighter and founder of Lumaware Safety Zachary Green has been in business for 10 years. He's focused on materials that help firefighters and others safely exit from buildings in the dark. After COVID-19, he was approached to make sturdy plexiglass for businesses.

Credit LumAware Safety
ClearGuard is 1/4" thick acrylic with 21,000 psi durability

"There's no hardware. There's no maintenance required. You don't need to drill into any type of countertops," he says. "They're very easy to take down and set up and stack up in other areas of your buildings." 

Green is seeing sales from Florida to Oregon to New York City.

"The timing is so important as we all come back to work and we are all, by CDC guidelines, to have a protective barrier if you cannot maintain social distancing," he says.

The ClearGuard shields are made by members of the Cincinnati Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

CABVI is considered an essential business because it does work for the federal government and the State of Ohio, including processing unemployment claims and making exam paper for the Veterans Administration.

CABVI COO Bill Neyer says the organization takes a lot of pride in what it does. "So the shift for us in doing this was part of our DNA to really innovate and respond to customer needs."

Neyer says his organization can make 100 ClearShields a day. The demand is increasing as Neyer is getting lots of inquiries from retail, restaurants and now schools about ClearShields.

Ann Thompson has decades of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting.