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Here's what Houstonians asked the internet amid coronavirus outbreak

Houston's top Google searches include toilet paper, freezing milk, and bottled water. . Pexels

No doubt, Houstonians and other Texans are tremendously curious about toilet paper these days. If you've seen any news coverage or been to a grocery store lately, you know how coveted a roll of toilet paper is.

But you might be surprised by which other things we're searching for online during the coronavirus pandemic. One of the more eye-opening queries? "Freeze milk."

A study published March 20 by self-storage marketplace StorageCafé tracked about 50 of the most popular Google searches for items or queries pertaining to three coronavirus-related categories: food and beverages, cleaning, and health.

Google Trends measures interest about a certain term on a scale from zero to 100 points. Zero means that few people are searching for that particular term, while 100 signifies peak interest.

In the Houston area, according to StorageCafé, the peak-interest terms as of March 15 focused on toilet paper and "freeze milk" as well as:

  • Bottled water
  • Vitamin C
  • Thermometers
  • Diapers

All of those scored 100 on the Google Trends scale, StorageCafé says.

Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, and San Antonio also registered scores of 100 for searches regarding toilet paper, freezing milk, vitamin C, and diapers.

DFW and Austin shared the highest level of curiosity about thermometers. Meanwhile, residents of the Austin and San Antonio areas were clamoring for information related to "food supply." People in the San Antonio area also were furiously searching for information about canned food and hand sanitizer.

Getting back to that milk query: Yes, you can freeze most types of milk, and the nutritional benefits will remain.

Milk expands when it's frozen, so leave room in the storage container to prevent it from bursting, the Dairy Council of California advises. Just make sure the milk hasn't passed its sell-by date.

"After you have frozen your milk, it can be thawed in the refrigerator or in cold water and is safe for consumption," the council says. "However, be aware that the flavor and texture of the milk may be affected."

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This article originally ran on CultureMap.

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Building Houston

 
 

Seven startups walked away with cash prizes from this year's MassChallenge accelerator program in Houston. Photo via Getty Images

MassChallenge named its winners of its 2020 accelerator at a virtual event on October 22. The program awarded a total of $200,000 in equity-free prizes across seven startups from its second Houston cohort.

This year's program took place completely virtually due to the pandemic. Already, the 56 startups involved in the cohort have raised $44.4 million funding, generated $24 million in revenue, and created 297 jobs, says Jon Nordby, managing director of MassChallenge Texas in Houston, in a news release.

"This has been a year full of change, to say the least," he says. "But startups thrive in uncertain times — because they can move fast and remain agile, they are able quickly meet each new need that arises. I'm extremely proud of the startups in our 2020 cohort — during the course of the program, they've pivoted, adjusted, and evolved in order to grow their businesses."

The startups that won across the Houston cohort included Houston-based PATH EX Inc., which won the $100,000 Diamond Award, is focused on the rapid diagnosis and treatment of sepsis through an unique pathogen extraction platform.

Four companies won $25,000 Gold Awards:

  • Healium, based in Columbia, Missouri, is an extended reality device created for self-management of anxiety.
  • Ozark Integrated Circuits Inc., based in Fayetteville, Arkansas, specializes in problem solving using technology and software in the harshest environments – from jet engines to earth orbit.
  • PREEMIEr Diagnostics, based in Southfield, Michigan, created a way to identify which premature infants need an adjustment to their glucose levels to prevent them from losing vision.
  • Scout Inc., based in Alexandria, Virginia, is developing the first commercial in-space satellite inspection service.

Two companies won the Sidecar Awards, securing each a $25,000 Innospark Artificial Intelligence Prize.

  • Articulate Labs, based in Dallas, makes mobile, adaptive devices to help knee osteoarthritis and knee replacement patients rehabilitate on the go during everyday activity.
  • Houston-based Starling Medical has tapped into tech to optimize urinary catheter for patients with neurogenic bladder dysfunction.
The Houston Angel Network awarded Ozark Integrated Circuits their prize of $50,000.
"The progress these entrepreneurs made in just a few months has all of the hope, drama, anticipation, and optimism of seeing dawn break after a particularly difficult night," says Wogbe Ofori, Principal at 360Approach and a MassChallenge mentor, in the release. "It's fulfilling, actually, and makes me proud to be a MassChallenge mentor."
The seven startups were awarded alongside 27 other startups from this year's Austin, Boston, and Rhode Island accelerators at the virtual event. The event was hosted by Chris Denson of Innovation Crush, and featured a fireside chat between Arianna Huffington, founder and CEO of Thrive Global, and Linda Pizzuti Henry, managing director at the Boston Globe.
Earlier this fall, MassChallenge named its 10 startup finalists, whittled down from 56 from 13 countries and 13 states to its first-ever virtual accelerator, which began in June.

"In the face of great uncertainty, MassChallenge Texas in Houston charged forward and did exactly what they ask their startups to do: love the problem," says Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner in the release. "The successful pivot to virtual is a testament to the strength of their global community and the motivation of the Houston ecosystem to get behind new ideas and create businesses that will set roots and grow here.

"As one of the most innovative cities, Houston is a place where startups can thrive – even in the midst of a pandemic. Programs like MassChallenge provide the best practices and networks to ensure startups get the access they need to create sustainable businesses and lasting change."

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