Microsoft partnered with several large organizations to launch a regional COVID-19 Response Fund (CRF) in the Puget Sound area. The Seattle Foundation, United Way of King County, Microsoft, Amazon, and Starbucks will work in coordination with King County and the City of Seattle to aid people affected by coronavirus (COVID-19). Microsoft also donated $1 million towards the launch of the fund.
The fund will provide financial support to “nonprofits and community-based organizations on the frontlines of the response.” The support will include rental assistance, supporting healthcare workers, and helping ensure children, seniors, and families have access to food.
In addition to donating $1 million to the fund, Microsoft will encourage its employees to donate and match employee donations on a dollar-per-dollar basis.
Microsoft breaks down the criteria for organizations to receive donations in a blog post:
Criteria for the initial emergency response stage are being developed to ensure the dollars are allocated in a targeted, agile and responsive manner where the dollars are needed most. Initial grants will support organizations doing work with priority populations, such as: people without sick leave or health insurance; medically fragile populations; hourly and gig economy workers; healthcare workers and people with limited English-language proficiency. The group will raise funds throughout the epidemic and recovery phases, to allocate resources as needs emerge and evolve.
In related news, a project funded by Bill Gates will soon issue home testing kits for coronavirus (via The Seattle Times). The kits will allow people to swab their noses and send samples in for analysis. Results would be available in one or two days, and local health officials would be notified of people who test positive. Infected people can also fill out online forms to help health officials track the spread of the virus and determine who else needs to be tested or quarantined.
The project does not have a specific launch date at this point. Scott Dowell, leader of the coronavirus response at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, says there are steps required to handle the expected number of requests. These include updating software and finalizing the detailed questionnaire. Dowell says, “Although there’s a lot to be worked out, this has enormous potential to turn the tide of the epidemic.”
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