There's an app for that

New delivery service speeds into Houston

GoPuff is a combination of concierge service and errand runner. Photo courtesy of goPuff

Everyone knows how hard it is to manage to get everything done in a single 24-hour period. Errands to run, groceries to pick up, food to buy, prescriptions to get. To-do lists seem never-ending, and for busy professionals, can be absolutely overwhelming.

Enter goPuff, a Philadelphia-based retailer that has just launched in the Bayou City. Think of it as a combination of concierge service and errand runner. The company stocks more than 2,500 products across eight categories. Those items, ranging from snacks to beverages to household essentials to pet needs, are housed in centrally located facilities in Houston.

When customers need something, they log into their goPuff account, select what they want, and the company's delivery drivers bring it straight to their door. Delivery hours are from noon to 4:30 am, seven days a week, with a flat delivery charge of $1.95.

Founded in 2013, goPuff is now available in more than 90 cities, including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Seattle, Pittsburgh, and Washington, D.C. "Customers have been asking us to come to Houston since we first launched the concept, and we are thrilled to now bring that experience to the area and deliver the moments that matter most to this vibrant community," said Rafael Ilishayev, goPuff co-founder and co-CEO, in a statement announcing the expansion to Houston.

In Houston, the company will cover the enormity of the city, from the Texas Medical Center to Northeast Houston, Independence Heights to the Fifth Ward. Customers will place their orders on the goPuff app, the same way they would for other delivery services. Then, goPuff team members head out, collect what's needed, and deliver it.

The company touts its speed of delivery as a main selling feature; because the products are housed at goPuff facilities, drivers don't need to head all over town to collect needed items, and there are no third parties to work with. But what about cold treats like ice cream?

"Because we warehouse product inventory at our own facilities, we can quickly pack orders in our special insulated bins and pass them off to our driver partners for fast deliveries, keeping the ice cream cold," Liz Romaine of goPuff tells CultureMap.

Given the furious speed at which live in the Bayou City moves, goPuff should find a pretty warm welcome here in Houston.

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This story originally appeared on CultureMap.com.

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Building Houston

 
 

Houston-based imaware, which has an at-home COVID-19 testing process, is working with Texas A&M University on researching how the virus affects the human body. Getty Images

An ongoing medical phenomenon is determining how COVID-19 affects people differently — especially in terms of severity. A new partnership between a Houston-based digital health platform and Texas A&M University is looking into differences in individual risk factors for the virus.

Imaware, which launched its at-home coronavirus testing kit in April, is using its data and information collected from the testing process for this new study on how the virus affects patients differently.

"As patient advocates, we want to aid in the search to understand more about why some patients are more vulnerable than others to the deadly complications of COVID-19," says Jani Tuomi, co-founder of imaware, in a press release. "Our current sample collection process is an efficient way to provide longitudinal prospectively driven data for research and to our knowledge, is the only such approach that is collecting, assessing, and biobanking specimens in real time."

Imaware uses a third-party lab to conduct the tests at patients' homes following the Center for Disease Control's guidelines and protocol. During the test, the medical professional takes additional swabs for the study. The test is then conducted by Austin-based Wheel, a telemedicine group.

Should the patient receive positive COVID-19 results, they are contacted by a representative of Wheel with further instructions. They are also called by a member of a team led by Dr. Rebecca Fischer, an infectious disease expert and epidemiologist and laboratory scientist at the Texas A&M University School of Public Health, to grant permission to be a part of the study.

Once a part of the study, the patient remains in contact with Fischer's team, which tracks the spread and conditions of the virus in the patient. One thing the researchers are looking for is the patients' responses to virus complications caused by an overabundance of cytokines, according to the press release. Cytokines are proteins in the body that fight viruses and infections, and, if not working properly, they can "trigger an over-exuberant inflammatory response" that can cause potentially deadly issues with lung and organ failure or worse, per the release.

"We believe strongly in supporting this research, as findings from the field can be implemented to improve clinical processes-- helping even more patients," says Wheel's executive medical director, Dr. Rafid Fadul.

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