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UGA students involved in effort to share coronavirus help resources

This map by the civic group GroundBreakers shows food banks, COVID-19 testing sites, medical and other resources. GroundBreakers created the map to assist people in need of such help as part of the response to the coronavirus pandemic.
This map by the civic group GroundBreakers shows food banks, COVID-19 testing sites, medical and other resources. GroundBreakers created the map to assist people in need of such help as part of the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The coronavirus pandemic has prompted a group of college students, many from the University of Georgia, to get involved in an effort to help students and others find resources to stay safe and healthy through the crisis.

The students and some recent graduates have created a nationwide map with food banks, medical facilities, COVID-19 testing sites and other resources. As of last week, they identified more than 11,000 sites. They're continuing to add locations to the U.S. map and are working on similar maps for other parts of the world, starting with Africa, Europe and Latin America.

“I think a lot of students want to figure out ways to loop people in their communities and this gives us a way to help,” said Christopher Rosselot, 19, a first-year UGA student involved in the effort.

Rosselot is part of GroundBreakers, a group created in 2017 to address issues in communities worldwide, such as food insecurity in Kenya or the opioid crisis in Ohio. The organization was co-founded by Rara Reines, 22, an Athens native who graduated from UGA in August. About a dozen UGA students are part of the core team. Several University of Texas at Austin students have been closely involved to assist in mapping. GroundBreakers said it is operating in 51 countries.

Georgia college students have explored many ways in recent weeks to help fight the pandemic. Some have made masks and other personal protective gear for medical personnel. Medical students are volunteering at local hospitals. One Emory University medical student is part of a clinical trial for a potential COVID-19 vaccine.

GroundBreakers got the idea for its COVID-19 resource map after seeing a map by Johns Hopkins University that details confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths across the globe. Reines said the group saw information about various community resources but “it just seemed very disconnected.” The map aims to connect the dots.

“We want to share information about the resources that are available,” said Reines, who lives in Washington, D.C.

The students contacted community organizations to find some useful sites for the map. GroundBreakers got a big break when the Atlanta Community Food Bank began sharing information.

GroundBreakers’ United States map shows more resources in the nation’s largest urban centers, such as Boston, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., along with some smaller areas such as a part of southern New Hampshire.

Reines said the group hopes to partner with local governments to identify and share resources on the map. They also want to share information about resources for people experiencing domestic violence.