In March of this year (2020), when the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic was getting into full flux in the US, I, along with other volunteers, started an initiative to help with grocery and other essential item deliveries for at-risk population. With volunteer developers’ help, we launched right away. Later, we successfully concluded this initiative at the end of May once commercial services and grocery stores caught up to the delivery demand surge. This page hosts the last remnants of that effort, and the cv19assist.com domain now redirects to this page.
The world is facing the biggest outbreak of the viral illness, Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). COVID-19 belongs to a large family of viruses, which get their name from the crown-like spikes on their surface, and include other diseases like Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). The disease is believed to be spread by person-to-person contact, i.e. between people who are in close contact, and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. People are thought to be most contagious when they are symptomatic, but asymptomatic transmission is of significant concern. Most people have a mild flu-like illness; however, older adults and people with serious medical conditions, like heart disease, diabetes, and lung disease are at increased risk of developing a severe illness.
One of the most effective strategies to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 is avoiding exposure to the disease. Keeping older and at-risk population disease free will go a long way in “flattening the curve” and reducing the potential strain on medical services due to a sudden rise in patients requiring hospitalization. We believe the most productive way to achieve that goal is by taking initiative at the community level–providing a platform to bring together those in need and those willing to help.
To accomplish this, CV19Assist is a network where people at-risk can quickly and easily connect with volunteers willing to help. Among other things this includes requesting assistance for tasks like grocery shopping and getting medications.
- Madison 365: Local entrepreneur develops Volunteer Coronavirus Assistance System to connect those in need with volunteers
- WKOW: Local developers create website to link volunteers with people in need of help
- The Verona Press: New website seeks to stop the spread
Final Blog Post
Here is the final blog post summarizing the effort.
Looking Back, Looking Ahead
By Farhan Ahmad – 2020-05-29
We hope you are staying safe.
Two months ago, we started the CV19 Assist initiative to help flatten the COVID-19 curve by helping the at-health-risk population minimize their exposure to the virus. We went live with the website within a week of our announcement. We have focused mostly on the local Madison-Wisconsin geographical area and got some good news coverage. This coverage helped us enroll about 250 volunteers who graciously offered to help with deliveries and all other tasks.
Overall, although reaching out to our target demographic has been a bit challenging, we still did a lot of good. Below is an excerpt from one of the requests.
I am 75 with no family nearby to help. I have already placed and paid online for an order for curbside pick up at … This is such a blessing! Thank you so very, very much! I was thinking about cancelling the order because the church can’t help so I had planned to go get it myself but now the CDC wants us old folks to be extra careful to not go any where at all this week or next, so I’m scared to do it. Again, bless you! This is such a wonderful blessing! Thank you so very much.
Besides the numerous grocery deliveries that the volunteers made, we also provided about $2,500 worth of financial aid, which was funded by the Madison Muslim community.
There have been many volunteers who helped with software development, but we would like to give a special shoutout to Prescott Prue, Deniz Simsek, Maaz Baig, and Jessie Luo for all their extra effort.
Now that the grocery stores and delivery companies are catching up with the demand, and as our society is learning how to better deal with coronavirus, we feel that we have achieved our initiative’s goal. In the coming two weeks, the development team will be adding email notifications in case we get any more requests (as the website will still be up and running). Besides this last set of changes, we are not planning on making any more changes unless the need comes up again (which we hope does not!!). If you do see more requests come from CV19 Assist, please help fulfill them as you have done in the past.
On a general note, if you have COVID-19 related needs or are helping others in need, please check out the very helpful, volunteer-created http://www.madisoncovid.com/. If you are curious, the source code for our website is available on GitHub at https://github.com/cv19assist.
Lastly, whether you got the opportunity to make a delivery or not, we want to thank you very much for signing up and making yourselves available to help those in need. You are the best part of this initiative, and we hope our world gets to see many more like you.
- Farhan Ahmad, Saad Baig and Steven Knurr – CV19 Assist