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Connections in the Time of Coronavirus

Global stories of caring and compassion.

We are asking the Cornell community to share inspiring stories during these challenging times. Share a brief story (up to 200 words) describing an event, moment, act or relationship that touched you, demonstrating the power of human connection, even in this time of social distancing. Submit using our form.

Stories will be preserved as part of the University Archives.

Purple background on a computer screen that reads Meet your Quarantine Buddy Quarantine Buddy App
Sam Brickman and Jordyn Goldzweig
137 countries around the globe
As this pandemic rages on, it’s easy for some to feel lonely or isolated. A couple of Cornell University students noticed that and decided to use their education to bring people together. They’re calling it “Quarantine Buddy.” And so far, over 40,000 people from 137 different countries are on board, or should we say online. Computer science major Sam Brickman along with Jordyn Goldzweig came up with a website in which total strangers, all feeling the anxiety and loneliness of the... READ MORE »

grid of graduates wearing regalia on a computer screen. Weill Cornell Medicine Celebrates with Virtual Commencement
New York City
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. After the quick transition to working in the field in April, he relished the opportunity Commencement afforded him to mark the end of his medical education and reflect on why he chose medicine as his career. “One of the core reasons I decided to go into medicine was a desire to help people... READ MORE »

man standing in from tof a concrete sign that reads Florida Department of Health with greenery around it Senior Tracks COVID-19 Cases in Florida Hometown
Dalton Price, student
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. His responsibilities include tracking... READ MORE »

colorful fabric masks Einaudi Center Staff Member Sews Masks with African Fabrics
Indira White
Ithaca, New York
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. “I’ve been holding onto these textiles,... READ MORE »

Woman sitting in a gray airline seat wearing a red face mask, surrounded by empty seats. Provided Access Fund Eased Pandemic’s Burden on Students
Access Fund
Cornell University
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. She reached out for help to Cornell’s Access Fund, which supports lower-income students with certain basic and emergency needs. The fund... READ MORE »

Black and white cow in an grassy outdoor field. provided/unsplash Cornell and DFA Donate Milk to Regional Food Banks
Cornell Dairy
Stocking Hall
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. “In this time of need, it is important for... READ MORE »

Woman holding a tray of seedlings in cup, wearing a facemark and gloves. Provided Cornell Biologists Grow, Donate Plant Kits to Local Families
Margaret Frank, faculty
Ithaca, New York
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. Thanks to a collaboration with Ithaca Children’s Garden (ICG), the Frank Lab has helped create almost 1,000... READ MORE »

Three men wearing masks standing in a kitchen with trays of food Cornellians Help Keep Loaves and Fishes Going During Pandemic
Tompkins County
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. “We will serve meals from the front yard of our home at St. John’s Church for as long as... READ MORE »

vVideo clip pf a doctor wearing a lab coat stannic intro of a caricature of himself Cornell Health Physician Educates Youth Through ‘Health-Hop’
Dr. John Clarke
Cornell Health
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. It’s a genre he calls “health-hop.” His latest video, “Stop Corona,” aims to impart important information about coronavirus to communities of young people who might otherwise be hard to reach. “For... READ MORE »

Video frame of a man playing the piano Department of Music Shares Performances Online
Malcolm Bilson and others
In lieu of its normally full slate of live events, the Department of Music is sharing a variety of faculty and student projects on a new Quarantunes page. The site includes music from pianist Xak Bjerken, violinist Ariana Kim, voice instructor Steven Stull (an aria from Mozart’s “The Magic Flute”); and projects by Lucy Fitz Gibbon and Ryan McCullough, postdoc Mark Gotham and the Cornell Concert Series. New content is added regularly. Keyboard performances by Professor Emeritus Malcolm Bilson... READ MORE »

Large white truck with Food Bank of Southern Tier written on the side of the truck. Provided Professor Helps Organize County Food Task Force
Rachel Bezner Kerr, faculty
Tompkins County
Rachel Bezner Kerr, professor of global development, CALS, is part of a core team that has organized the Tompkins County COVID-19 Food Task Force, a nerve center working to ensure that those in need have access to food and that food producers stay in operation during the crisis. Bezner Kerr collaborated with community leaders over the past few weeks to get this countywide task force up and running. The task force is divided into three teams, focused on: coordinating emergency distribution of... READ MORE »

Woman outside wearing a colorful facemark. Provided by Cornell Farmworker Program Program delivers masks, COVID-19 info for NY farmworkers
Cornell Farmworker Program
New York State
More than 55,000 farmworkers across New York play critical roles sustaining the local and global food supply. Many of these essential workers–who often live in close quarters and work side by side–have continued to work without face masks, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. To help protect farmworkers and slow the virus’s spread in rural New York, the Cornell Farmworker Program is mobilizing local support to make and distribute face masks across the state. “Farmworkers are essential to our... READ MORE »

Three women healthcare professionals wearing colorful masks hold up a thank you sign. Chicago Mask Makers
Christine DePaolo Baumbach, B.S. '74
Western Suburbs of Chicago
"In mid-March, 2020, I like so many others was independently sewing fabric masks in response to the stunning lack of personal protection equipment for health care professionals. Some of us met on Facebook, first two of us, then three, and now over 150 cutters, sewers, and runners. Our FB group page has more than 1,500 enthusiastic supporters. In just over a month we have made and distributed more than 5,000 masks, all made from donated materials and sewn by volunteers. It has been a... READ MORE »

Exterior of the peak of a brick building MBAs Find Ways to Stay Social From a Distance
Varun Ramadurai, student
What happens when highly motivated MBA students are forced to take an unplanned break from their program and go into isolation from their colleagues? Students in the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management have found fun, interesting and valuable ways to make the most of physical distancing–by creating opportunities to engage with their professors and classmates online. “The communal experience at Johnson is one of the program’s most defining qualities,” said Varun Ramadurai, MBA ’... READ MORE »

Singer standing in front of music stand with musicians playing string instruments on wither side in a concert hall Cornell Concert Series Works to Keep the Music Playing
Kate Blackwood
Social distancing measures canceled the last two shows of the spring 2020 Cornell Concert Series, challenging organizers to connect performers with fans in new ways. Series manager Deborah Justice is posting reflections from performing artists and others–including conductors, tour agents and sound technicians. “I wanted to shed some light on how these cancellations ripple across different aspects of the economy and to honor the complexity of the impact,” she said.... READ MORE »

Downtown pedestrian shopping area with a sign that reads Ithaca Commons Cornell Supports Local Small Business COVID-19 Fund
Cornell University
Tompkins County
Cornell University has made a $100,000 contribution to help establish a Tompkins County/City of Ithaca COVID-19 Small Business Resiliency Fund to support and stabilize local small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Created by a team of community partners and local economic development agencies, the fund launched with $390,000 that will be used to rapidly provide up to $5,000 in emergency relief per business in forgivable microloans to help owners retain their businesses and... READ MORE »

Three students with arms linked standing in front of a glass wall overlooking a city Students Create Site to Foster Connections During Quarantine
Jordyn Goldzweig, Sam Brickman, and Alisa Lai; students
Wherever you are
A college student at home alone while his mom worked in a hospital made a new friend–a 77-year-old widow also stuck at home. A guitar player met another player and songwriter, and they spent time singing and composing together through Zoom. These four people are a few of the more than 600 who have signed up to connect with others on Quarantine Buddy, a website founded by a trio of Cornell students. “We wanted to channel the stress and uncertainty of this time into something that could... READ MORE »

Apples in a wooden bin Cornell Orchards Donates Apples to Area School Districts
Cornell Orchards
Tompkins County
Cornell Orchards has long been known for its generosity in supporting the local community. So when the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to close, leaving many students without regular access to meals, the orchards' staff saw an opportunity to pitch in. Throughout April, the orchards will be donating approximately 26,000 apples to two local school districts to supplement efforts to provide meals for students and families in need. "We have been donating apples for years to local food banks... READ MORE »

Screenshot of five blocks on a Zoom calls, three men, one woman and one black square with Dan V wiritten PhD by Zoom
Dan Verderosa, faculty
Ithaca and New Delhi, India
Tata-Cornell scholar and PhD candidate Shiuli Vanaja was stuck under lockdown in her home in New Delhi, India, but that didn’t stop her from earning her doctorate in Applied Economics and Management. The coronavirus prevented Shiuli from returning to Ithaca for her B exam, so she joined professors Prabhu Pingali, David Just, and David Sahn on Zoom. Though the internet connection was at times less than ideal, she successfully defended her dissertation on access to household drinking water in... READ MORE »

Two women wearing masks standing in an airport corridor. Twitter Unites PhD Students Stranded in the Peruvian COVID-19 Lockdown
Kara Fikrig, Entomology Ph.D '23
Iquitos, Peru
"I was thousands of miles away from family, deep in the Peruvian Amazon, in a city only accessible by air and boat. Suddenly, Peru implemented a lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19, stranding thousands of foreigners in the country, including myself. I was torn—should I abandon my project (at least for now) and try to leave with the evacuation of U.S. citizens, or should I wait in Peru for the pandemic to end? Ultimately, I decided to evacuate, but my decision was fraught with doubt and... READ MORE »