Big tech coronavirus task force refocuses after rocky start 

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Initially launched by tech giants including Amazon, Google and Microsoft, the COVID-19 Technology Task Force is now moving from its "messy beginning" and reprioritizing its focus to combat the pandemic, the group's new leader told the Wall Street Journal

John Borthwick, a New York-based venture capital investor, took over the task force in late April. When it  launched in March, the task force planned to deploy such tech as hospital bed trackers and contact-tracing tools but quickly lost traction as members disagreed over privacy issues and companies, including Microsoft and Facebook, and the White House dropped out or took on minimal roles, according to the report. 

Some task force members were caught off guard by Apple and Google's decision to partner and work on COVID-19 contact-tracing and they became unsure of what the task force should focus on next.  

"It was fragmented, and it was unclear what the goals were,” said Caroline Buckee, PhD., a Harvard University epidemiologist and an early member of the task force. 

The task force, which Mr. Borthwick said was "messy at the beginning," is now focused on  establishing connections and sharing information, rather than creating its own projects. The group is organizing a virtual "hackathon" to create interest in combating  social isolation and has about 18 members. 

 

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