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CSU researchers are lending their expertise to help healthcare professionals and government officials with the care and containment of COVID-19.

At California State University, Los Angeles, Assistant Professor of Computer Science Mohammad Pourhomayoun, Ph.D., and graduate student Mahdi Shakibi in the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology used artificial intelligence and machine learning to develop a predictive model that determines the health and mortality risks of COVID-19 patients. Looking at symptoms, physiological information and demographic data, the model aims to help medical providers decide which patients need immediate care and which can stay home.

“We have to remember that the main players and the real heroes are our doctors, nurses and all healthcare workers risking their lives to save people on the front lines of the coronavirus fight,” Dr. Pourhomayoun, who is also the director of the AI and Data Science Research Lab, says in a Cal State LA article. “But I think everyone with any expertise can try to help. Every researcher in every field of research—whether it is medicine or biology or computer science or engineering or social science—can contribute to help address the COVID-19 crisis.”

Cal Poly Pomona experts Nina Abramzon, Ph.D., physics professor, and Wei-Jen Lin, Ph.D., biological sciences professor, are supplying their knowledge from a past study to help experts currently researching a way to kill the virus behind COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) on personal protective equipment so it can be reused.

“It's like with any scientific study, we are all providing small pieces to a big puzzle, and this is a small piece of a big puzzle,” Dr. Abramzon says.

Along with a larger team, the two professors tested the sterilization capabilities of atmospheric pressure plasma—a fourth state of matter created when energy is infused into a gas, breaking apart the molecules into chemically reactive atoms and molecules—on high-resistant biofilms and spores. This method could be particularly helpful for sterilizing SARS-CoV-2-​contaminated objects because the plasma exists at room temperature and can be used on plastics like medical face shields.

“I feel there is still some more work to do if they really want to apply [this sterilization technique] to medical devices,” Dr. Lin says. “But I think it's hopeful, and we're happy to help.”