SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) -- Ever since the pandemic began, scientists have been trying to get a handle on preventing the spread of the disease. It looks like a 12-year-old kid may have beaten them to it.
These days, people are looking for ways to keep from touching the same objects as everyone else. As a little kid, Mizan Rupan-Tompkins had a knack for figuring stuff out and, at age 12 when the pandemic hit, he saw his mother using her sleeve to avoid touching door handles and elevator buttons.
"Because once you touch your face -- now all those germs are on your face." Mizan explained.
"He was like, 'I could make you something!'" Mizan's mom, Ronica, remembers. "I said, 'sure, make me something.'"
Mizan got to work. He found several metal, hook-like devices on the Internet.
"But the thing about the metal devices is they can scratch cars and they're heavy," he said, "and the coronavirus can stay on metal devices longer."
So, Mizan began building a better mousetrap.
He got his first 3D printer when he was ten years old and now has nine of them and his dad said sometimes the house feels like the starship Enterprise.
After 50 attempts he developed the "Safe Touch Pro," a hand-held utility device with a retracting cable that can be mounted on a belt and used as a hook to help open high-contact doors or as a punch to push buttons and keypads. It's made with a plant-based plastic, infused with silver ions which act as a disinfectant.
"Once the silver comes into contact with germs and bacteria, it penetrates the cell wall and attacks the DNA so it stops reproducing and spreading," Mizan explained.
So far, the manufacturing operation exists only in the family's South San Francisco home but that could change because the orders are starting to come in, averaging five or six a day from all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
"It's in the hundreds," said Mizan's father Raphael. "I don't think we've actually kept official count but ... companies ... in the Bay Area will order a few hundred."
Mizan has begun marketing the device to large companies and would like to get Uber and Lyft to require drivers to carry them.
His efforts attracted the attention of supervisor David Canepa who proclaimed Saturday, July 11 "Mizan Rupan-Tompkins Day" in San Mateo County.
"This is a day of celebration," Canepa said. "This is a day of lives being saved. We have a young entrepreneur who's really making the world better. This is what the future is about."
It was big honor for someone who just turned 13.
"Yeah, I feel like, at any age you can make a difference in the world and I was only 13 -- well, I was 12 when I created it," Mizan said with a proud grin. "I feel like I'm helping to flatten the curve of the coronavirus and I feel like my product can make a difference."
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