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Citizen Science Needs You! Help Fight COVID-19

Posted by on April 6th, 2020 Posted in: All of Us, Blog, Citizen Science, Health Literacy/Consumer Health, News From NNLM PNR, Public Libraries
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During Citizen Science Month, NNLM PNR is featuring simple, health-related citizen science projects that you can lead as either a virtual library program event; share through your library’s social media; or for you to do as a private citizen. NLM has partnered with SciStarter.org to bring you these important projects. This week, we feature a vitally important project called “The COVID-19 Citizen Science Project.”

It’s no secret we’ve all been touched by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of us are sheltering in place while continuing to support our communities: We’re expanding access to online library resources and offering virtual programming as we work remotely or from within our closed libraries. ”Stressful” is an understatement. Yet while we work, thoughts of COVID-19 are never far from mind.

This is where the collective impact of citizen science provides a tangible way to help. The COVID-19 Citizen Science (CCS)  project has just been launched by physician-scientists at the University of California San Francisco, offering a way for people from every walk of life to help in the battle against this virus. The project seeks ordinary people age 18 or over to help advance scientists’ understanding of the disease. All that’s needed to participate is a smartphone and the ability to download the app.

The project’s goal is to learn what behaviors slow the spread of the virus and what factors increase or lessen the long-term health impacts of COVID-19. Through the project’s app, participants self-report their symptoms daily (healthy or not) and complete simple surveys. People have the option to provide their location, allowing researchers to determine how geography may affect the spread of infection.

In return, researchers will share updates, create and post maps related to reported behaviors and symptoms, and inform participants of what they discover. The more who participate, the better and more reliable the data, so scientists encourage participants to share the project with at least five other individuals. Libraries are perfectly positioned to help spread the word.  To host a virtual library event, share on social media or participate, visit: SciStarter’s COVID-19 Citizen Science or the COVID-19 Citizen Science Project.

Important note: In deciding to participate myself, I learned it’s best to request the App directly from either SciStarter’s website or from the COVID-19 Citizen Science Project’s website via your Smartphone rather than through the Apple Store or Google Play.


Image of the author ABOUT Michele Spatz
Michele is the NNLM All of Us Community Engagement Coordinator for the Pacific Northwest. She has extensive experience providing consumer health information and a passion for health literacy. Michele truly believes, "Because of you, Libraries Transform.®"

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Developed resources reported in this program are supported by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), National Institutes of Health (NIH) under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012343 with the University of Washington.

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