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A change is going to come: HBCU graduates working to fight Covid

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A change is going to come: HBCU graduates working to fight Covid

Two HBCUs rooted deep in the delta are seeing its graduates make courageous strides of
positive change in the fight against Covid-19.

Two HBCUs rooted deep in the delta are seeing its graduates make courageous strides of positive change in the fight against Covid-19. Herman Hill, a graduate of Mississippi Valley State University and Greg Harris, a graduate of Jackson State University are managing an innovative app called VitaCorpo. Alongside partner Jody Holmes the team was able to create the first health screening app that provides secure, end-to-end, remote verification of an individuals health status using real time data collection and surveys.

“The platform is focused on helping to adapt to people’s own processes and manage and record
activities related to getting them back into the workplace safely,” Holmes said.

Through a user friendly interface the company tracks an employees temperature, blood oxygen level, and answers to a work readiness survey. Their responses must meet a certain standard to receive a pass or fail before they leave for work. This preventative measure is not exclusively provided to businesses but is free for individual families on the Google Play and App stores. The decision to make information like this easily accessible was purposeful. For Hill and Harris the motivation behind this project is extremely personal.

“I lost my 93 year old aunt and my 33 year old nephew to Covid,” said Hill.
Their deaths were heart wrenching yet only fueled his decision to stop the spread. His extensive background as a healthcare representative with companies ranging from Pfizer to Johnson and Johnson helped him realize many of the developing cases are contracted at work.

“Oddly enough as I became a part of this executive team my brother was diagnosed with Covid, and my cousin who deals with the healthcare industry also contracted Covid,” said Harris. “And hearing the horror stories of how they had to deal with it and going through it with them made me want to do this [VitaCorpo] more.”

Those who are teachers, care givers, and grocery store workers are most at risk due to the high level of face to face interaction. However for individuals with compromised immune systems this is not a risk they can take. Their paycheck might cost them their life which is why VitaCorpo is vital.

The startup offers a thermometer and Bluetooth wearable device capable of capturing hundreds of reads at once through the press of a button on the mobile app. The wearable costs about $50. They also have kiosks available for businesses to place in store to prevent the need for individual temperature checks. Through their app the data is not only collected but stored.

“With flu season coming, on top of Covid, its going to be super important that we have the distinguished ability to uncover whether someone has true [Covid] symptoms or something
that is simply associated with a seasonal cold,” said Hill.

The team utilizes blood oxidation levels to determine any differences or abnormalities in users’ symptoms. Ultimately they hope to have everyone using a public pass which will allow schools, churches, and businesses to track the same information.

“When you replace ‘Covid-19’ with ‘infectious disease’ that’s where VitaCorpo will stay,” said Harris. “Vitacorpo allows them [companies] to manage the spread of disease and to do so at a very inexpensive cost which gives us a better opportunity as a community to get back to some type of normalcy.”

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Ashleigh Fields is a two time self published author of the books, "Caged" and "Mind over Matter." She is extremely enthusiastic about writing and is currently studying journalism at Howard University. Ashleigh is excited to pursue a freelance career dedicated to erecting the voices of the unheard through journalistic and creative writing.

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