Connections in the Time of Coronavirus
Global stories of caring and compassion.
We asked the Cornell community to share inspiring stories at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. We received meaningful stories that demonstrated the power of human connection, even in a time of social distancing.
Stories have been preserved as part of the University Archives.
As this pandemic rages on, it’s easy for some to feel lonely or isolated.
Like more than half of Weill Cornell Medicine’s Class of 2020, Dr. Kevin Ackerman chose to graduate early to be of service to New York City’s health care system during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a college senior with an interest in infectious diseases, Dalton Price ’20 said it was completely obvious he would help fight the COVID-19 pandemic, especially when Cornell switched to virtual instruction and he headed home to Florida. Since leaving campus, Price has spent about 25 hours per week–even while wrapping up exams and projects–working with the Florida Department of Health in Volusia County to track cases and educate people about the virus.
As the need for protective face masks grew, Indira White knew she could use her love for sewing for good. As the Einaudi Center’s front office coordinator, she gave her masks a unique twist. “Most of the materials used to make these face masks came from Zambia and Ghana,” said Indira. Her friend and colleague—Jackie Sayegh, program manager of the Institute for African Development—visits Africa often and brings back fabric for Indira from each visit.
For families in western and central New York hurt by severe economic conditions brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, relief is on the way–in the form of fresh, cold milk, delivered to local food banks. The milk donations are courtesy of the Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) cooperative in Syracuse; the Cornell Dairy processing plant in Stocking Hall; and 155 lactating cows at the Teaching Dairy Barn, part of Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
For several weeks, nearly 1,200 seedlings grew in rows of paper cups covering the surfaces of Margaret Frank’s backyard greenhouse. As an assistant professor of plant biology in Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Frank is used to working with dozens of tomato plants in her on-campus lab. These potted plants, however, were destined for another experiment.
Raven Schwam-Curtis ’20 was still confronted with financial and emotional disruption when the pandemic forced Cornell to abruptly suspend classes in mid-March. Raven bid rushed goodbyes to friends and mentors, packed all her belongings into a handful of boxes, and boarded a nearly empty flight home to Houston–incurring significant unexpected expenses.
By March 13, it seemed clear that the COVID-19 pandemic would force Loaves and Fishes of Tompkins County to shut its doors to the public. Thanks to careful planning, three days later the community kitchen had ramped up to continue its free meal service to the needy–now packaged to go. Within a month, the number of meals provided had more than doubled, from 450 to almost 1,100 per week.
Dr. John Clarke started writing rap songs when he was eight years old and never stopped. Though he pursued a career in medicine rather than music, Clarke—director of occupational medicine at Cornell Health—still writes, produces, and performs rap music on health-related topics.