Sometimes one conversation can make all the difference.
In January, Hopkins Engineering Professor Lauren Gardner was talking to one of her graduate students, whose family lives in China. He was concerned about the spread of a novel coronavirus, about which so little was known beyond China at the time.
With her small team, Dr. Gardner, who specializes in modeling the spread of infectious diseases, set to work designing an interactive map tracking the trajectory of the disease in real time.
Soon, that conversation sparked more conversations involving colleagues across our entire university. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of Bloomberg School of Public Health faculty members Jennifer Nuzzo and Lainie Rutkow; Beth Blauer, executive director of JHU's Centers for Civic Impact; Sheri Lewis, program area manager and global disease surveillance expert at APL; and so many more, the single tracking map has evolved into the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, hosting analysis from experts in every division of Johns Hopkins and serving as a one-stop source for coronavirus data.
With over half a billion views and counting, the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center is an indispensable source of reliable and up-to-date information for individuals, media organizations, and the policymakers who are helping move us toward a safe recovery.
But the site is just one way our university is working to respond to the pandemic. From our staff and health care workers on the front lines of patient care; to the hundreds of Hopkins researchers working to understand, treat, and ideally prevent COVID-19; to the students and faculty who transitioned to virtual instruction with grace and alacrity, the actions of our community have been truly remarkable.
And despite the significant financial strain caused by the pandemic, we remain steadfast in our deep and abiding commitments to our neighbors and all the communities of which we are a part, whether by partnering with faith-based and community organizations to provide food assistance each week to more than 7,000 individuals in East Baltimore, co-managing operations for a 250-bed COVID-19 field hospital at the Baltimore Convention Center, or providing 300 computers for city students to continue their education online.
There is no denying this is a profoundly challenging moment rife with uncertainty. It can leave us feeling like Sisyphus pushing his boulder uphill each morning only to watch it roll back down again in the face of setbacks. But, as I shared with the Class of 2020 at its (virtual) commencement, the great French writer Albert Camus saw Sisyphus' endeavor not as futile, but noble. He wrote: "The struggle toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart."
Each day of this crisis, our community has struggled toward the heights. Our purpose, our meaning, and our mission have never been clearer.
Ronald J. Daniels