Danny Li, Justin Shen, Davesh Valagolam and Daniel You united to create www.covidcentral.org, a website that is being used by island natives to find out where they can get tested for COVID-19. COVID Central features an interactive map, highlighting testing centers, blood plasma donation centers and food centers for those who are facing food insecurity after being laid off from their jobs.
The group of students also created a survey, following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of how to determine if one might have the coronavirus, a common cold or allergies.
Li, a junior at Jericho, spoke to Anton Media Group about why these four students came together to create COVID Central, as well as the importance of making it easier for people to find out how and where they can get tested for this highly contagious disease.
Q: How did you and your friends start COVID Central?
A: It’s become a personal project of ours. We all enjoy STEM and we particularly enjoy how science can benefit society. We have a lot of time on our hands now. In addition to donating masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE), we thought a digital service would not only reach medical staff, but the general public.
Q: What was the process like of creating this website?
A: We had to figure out what we wanted to provide in a digital setting. We initially brainstormed what people could possibly need, and we actually polled people on multiple social media platforms about their concerns. What we found is that a lot of people had trouble finding COVID-19 testing centers. This was in late March, when COVID-19 was ramping up in New York and people were still having trouble finding testing centers. It was an objective we tried to solve.
Q: What inspired your group to give back in this way?
A: It was mainly that we saw there were so many shortages for personal protective equipment. That is obviously a significant problem. But we had to think about the other side of the coin. What about the general public? We reached out to see what we can do, and COVID Central tries to fix a problem.
Q: What was the process like of creating the survey that is available on the website to see whether or not people may have coronavirus symptoms?
A: We made our algorithm for the survey based on an assortment of websites that had some surveys and the CDC. We looked at the differentiation between the coronavirus and flu, as well as common cold symptoms. We have a disclaimer because we know we aren’t a medical source. We want people to see if they have symptoms that could possibly mean they have COVID-19. Last week, a team from Microsoft with a design leader and a couple of senior developers, reached out to us for a potential collaboration. They’re working on something similar to compile COVID-19 testing centers. We want to help as many people as possible.