Nina and her teammates are medical students at New York University, studying to become doctors. When the COVID-19 pandemic reached New York City and residents were forced to isolate themselves, she and her peers worried about healthcare professionals and ordinary people across the city who struggled to access accurate and timely information about the virus and how to stay safe.

Because Nina and her teammates are still students, they were unable to directly help support frontline workers in hospitals throughout the peak of the pandemic. But the medical students were determined to help -- even if they couldn't be working hands-on with patients in need. Nina and her team decided to take their passion and knowledge as medical students online to help their communities.

Alongside a team of other medical and graduate student volunteers, Nina founded NYCOVID Connect, a collaborative project providing accessible information on COVID-19 and resources available to New Yorkers.  The team responds to questions from the public via their Instagram channel. Additionally, they have also launched NYU Lit-COVID, which provides healthcare providers with weekly reviews of the latest research on COVID-19. Nina and other students read and summarize scientific articles and medical information on COVID-19 for both healthcare professionals and New York City residents to easily read and understand through their website and resources. NYU Lit-COVID collaborates with NYU medical and graduate students, as well as postdoctoral scholars and other researchers in the broader NYC community. Volunteers from this community review primary literature on COVID-19 and submit reviews. Students in the Medical Scientist Training Program who have already earned their PhDs answer the clinical questions submitted by healthcare providers.

Concerned by the disparate impacts of COVID-19 on minority communities, specifically, NYC residents who are less literate, less-tech savvy, or do not speak English, Nina’s team focuses on equitable access by translating their resources into 10 different languages and leading targeted outreach to communities that are at greatest risk of health disparities in the city.

Through Peace First's COVID-19 Rapid Response grant program, Nina and her team received a $250 grant to cover costs to develop and maintain the NYCOVID Connect website and resources for the broader New York community.

One of the group’s short term goals at the time of applying for the Peace First mini grant was to expand the reach of the NYCOVID Connect Instagram channel to 2000 followers. Today, and only a few months after launching, they have crossed 4000 followers and continue to provide timely, invaluable updates to the residents of New York.

To learn more about NYCOVID Connect, check their website and Instagram.