Many members of the larger Foote community are using their backgrounds and expertise on the front lines of the battle against COVID-19 — whether as healthcare professionals, biotech researchers, journalists or musicians. Foote parents, alumni, grandparents and friends are doing their part to serve those in need during the pandemic.
We are sharing examples of Foote community members who are helping the cause as we learn about them. We know there are many more that we may not be aware of. If you know a Footie who is working to alleviate the effects of COVID-19, please email Andy Bromage, Director of Communications, at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will update this post.
*UPDATE* Foote parent Pedro Soto was again featured in the New Haven Independent, having been diagnosed with and recovering from COVID-19, while continuing to help manufacture critical parts related to essential business. He was also tapped by Gov. Ned Lamont to serve on the Reopen Connecticut Advisory Group.
Foote parent Pedro Soto owns an aerospace and medical precision-parts machining, lapping and grinding company called Hygrade Precision Technologies. According to a recent article in the New Haven Independent, Soto was contacted by Yale-New Haven Hospital for “help in obtaining plastic face shields that can free up the limited supply of N95 masks for coronavirus-related care.” Soto says they’re looking into how they can help and once they secure materials, he is sure they can manufacture the face shields. He says, “the whole situation is showing how complicated and important these [international] supply chains are,” Companies rely on those chains to be able to manufacture at a large scale. And those chains can “collapse catastrophically.”
Ben Rosenbluth '09 and Alex Leffell '09
Foote alumni Alex Leffell and Ben Rosenbluth, both class of 2009, have been working for a biomedical startup here in Connecticut that switched into high gear recently to develop a low-cost, in-home test for the coronavirus. According to a New Haven Register article on Alex and Ben’s company, they “are developing for deployment and testing what would be the first rapid home-based test on the genetic code of the COVID-19 virus. The goal is to have you spit and get results in 30 minutes. And then scan the results into your iPhone; as simple and fast as a home pregnancy test.” We will, of course, keep everyone posted about the company’s success with this project.
Michael Crowley '87
Foote alumnus Michael Crowley '87 has previously reported from the front lines of political campaigns and foreign countries but his recent articles on this pandemic as a White House correspondent at The New York Times have proved his journalistic resourcefulness and vigor. Mike and his colleagues are reporting from the trenches on everything from “disaster diplomacy” to the U.S.-China relationship.
Foote parent Ted Cohen is a Yale epidemiologist tracking the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19. Ted made news recently for developing a mathematical model that calculates the COVID-19 infection rate in all 50 states. He said what his tool shows is “potential trajectory” in any given location.
Foote parent Josh Geballe has been a key leader in Connecticut's fight against COVID-19 since day one. As chief operating officer in Gov. Ned Lamont's administration, Josh has coordinated the state's efforts to contain and mitigate the spread of the virus.
Katherine Campbell is medical director at Yale-New Haven Hospital's Labor and Birth Unit. As reported on WTNH, she has helped set up new labor and delivery unit specifically for expectant moms who test positive for COVID-19. “This is really to allow moms who have COVID to be in a special place to be cared for by our same obstetrical team,” Katherine told WTNH.
Past parent Sabrina Breland, principal of East Rock Community Magnet School in New Haven, along with the help of colleagues, collected and logged the school’s existing Chromebooks and iPads to be able to lend them out to local families in need. “There’s a mixed bag of emotions,” Sabrina says, in an article from the Daily Nutmeg newsletter. Children have questions, concerns, and anxiety about their new situation. “Everything has them in unfamiliar territory, and so it’s concerning to some,” she says. “Most students want to be in class with their teachers and their friends.”
Talya Braverman '17
Foote alumna Talya Braverman '17 was recently featured on WTNH for a song she wrote about the challenges of social distancing. Her song is called "Six Feet"—a reference to the recommended physical distance between us all. "I knew it was something that I wanted to put out because it’s such a universal thing that we’re all experiencing," said Tayla, a senior at Amity High School.
Foote grandparents, too, are making a difference. Practicing family medicine for 54 years, Frank Walsh, grandfather of George '11, Healy '13, Logan '14, Grace '16, and Finn Knight '21, is still taking care of patients, albeit virtually. According to Meg Knight, his daughter, Dr. Walsh “sees” dozens of patients via phone every day, and is also taking care of the elderly as the medical director at a nursing home in Greenwich, Conn.
Christine Won and Hyung Chun
Foote parents Dr. Christine Won and Dr. Hyung Chun along with their daughters Ella ’22 and Sofia ’25 were featured on local NPR station WSHU. They share how their family is balancing the parents’ being the frontlines of the virus outbreak while also parenting and connecting with their daughters while being in quarantine. Christine explains, “It was really hard, I think, on [the girls] because I initially told them ‘don’t worry I’ll come home at night,’” Dr. Won had a plan to socially distance and avoid going into the girls’ rooms, “Then it quickly evolved into ‘oh mommy’s packing her bags and I’m leaving! You won’t see me for two weeks, but you can call me or FaceTime me!’"
Maggie Bogardus '08
PBS News Hour interviewed alumna Maggie Bogardus '08, who had been studying at Columbia Med School before becoming a newly minted doctor as graduations were accelerated during this pandemic. Maggie shared, "What I'm going to take with me is how much it brought people specifically in the health world together. I have been seeing and hearing really incredible things and unprecedented things, in terms of what people are willing to do and how they're willing to help."
Sarah Rosen '05
The coronavirus has already begun to transform relationships, for better and for worse. For some, the pandemic has created a need for deeper connections. Others see it as the time to end already failing relationships. In a recent New York Times’ Modern Love column, writer and Foote alumna Sarah Rosen '05’s boyfriend of six months broke up with her on the same day the World Health Organization declared a pandemic. As Sarah and her partner navigate the murky waters of their breakup, shifting from romantic partners to pandemic partners who still talk daily, they began to wonder: “What are the rules of a breakup in a pandemic?”
Ted Bailey '96
Ted Bailey '96 and his company Dataminr are on the frontlines of detecting information about the coronavirus and its spread around the world. By finding the earliest information in social media, they were able to warn public sector organizations like NGOs and hospitals well ahead of the first CDC report. Ted was interviewed on CNN’s First Move with Julia Chatterley to explain how Dataminr has a leg up when it comes to outbreak detection.