Coronavirus News: College grads create cellphone case that kills germs

NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- A group of Vanderbilt University graduates has developed a special cellphone case that kills germs -- and now they want to get them in the hands of medical workers.

What started as a fun way to pass the time while quarantined has now morphed into a full-scale operation that is helping health care workers in the tri-state area.

College roommates Andrew Medland and Isaac Lichter were both hit with COVID-19 and while recovering, read about copper and how studies show the metal can quickly zap viruses, bacteria and fungus.

The Vanderbilt grads brainstormed with classmate Nick O'Brien and built an electroplating lab in their garage where they were able to deposit copper onto cellphone cases they made with a 3D printer.

"We did get a few rough prototypes out of it and said, hey this is something that will probably work, let's pursue it further," Lichter said.

They are now working with labs using a different method and point out because their process uses a very thin coat of copper, it's cost-effective.

They're shipping 250 cases to the hospital where they were treated and another 250 to Lenox Hill.

The hospital welcomes the extra layer of protection.

"Since the COVID pandemic came in place and patients are in more isolation, we're forced to use technology a lot more frequently to communicate," said Irene Macyk with Lenox Hill.

The team says their phone case is just the beginning. They hope to use the same process and apply it to as many high-touch surfaces as possible.

"We like to call it our invisible shield against our invisible enemies because it works indefinitely fighting all of these germs," Medland said.

The phone cases cost $39 and if you buy one between now and May 28, they will match each sale and send one to Lenox Hill.

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