Yale stands with New Haven in responding to COVID-19

Yale has moved quickly on several fronts to support the New Haven community, and will continue to do so through a growing number of initiatives and programs.
New Haven skyline

This page was published April 2020; it is updated regularly. 

In order to weather the unprecedented storm brought by COVID-19, Yale and New Haven must stand united and work in concert. Toward this end, Yale has moved quickly on several fronts to support the New Haven community, and will continue to do so through a growing number of initiatives and programs. The efforts below are some of the ways Yale is working with the city to get through this crisis together.

Leading the healthcare response and finding a cure

  • 1,400 clinical faculty in the School of Medicine are serving as front-line health care providers, treating the patients at Yale New Haven Hospital.
  • Yale Health, the university’s HMO that 80% of employees choose as their source of health care, is providing comprehensive care, including COVID testing, for Yale employees.
  • Yale has created a field hospital in Payne Whitney Gymnasium’s Lanman Center to treat those who might become ill with COVID-19.  Yale New Haven Health system will assume operation of the field hospital in a collaboration that increases the system’s patient capacity and enables expanded access to medical care for the people of greater New Haven during the fight against COVID-19.
  • The university has also been working to make expedited COVID-19 testing in Yale laboratories available to local first responders who have been exposed to patients.
  • At the Yale School of Public Health (YSPH), faculty and student volunteers are performing contact tracing to help track and mitigate virus spread in New Haven and the Yale community. The volunteers are being trained by the Connecticut Department of Public Health in collaboration with the Connecticut Emerging Infections Program at Yale.
  • The Yale School of Nursing (YSN) is leading vital work to address the pandemic. More than 300 YSN faculty, students, and staff have volunteered to provide support during a possible surge of cases. As necessary and appropriate, they would help with triaging, drive-by testing, bedside care, and support tasks. YSN is developing a text-message-based survey to track local healthcare workers who have been exposed to or diagnosed with COVID-19. This tool will help New Haven health systems plan for workforce needs if cases in the city continue to climb. Nursing faculty are also collaborating on creative and innovative ways to produce and sterilize PPE with partners at the School of Engineering and Applied Science and businesses in New Haven.
  • Yale has made space available for emergency use on campus and over 500 beds are now available to first responders and hospital personnel who are doing extraordinary work on behalf of the New Haven community.
  • Yale School of Medicine researchers are focused on finding and developing tests and treatments for COVID-19 — including studying how the disease infects cells, how the immune system responds, and ways of disrupting that process.
  • The School of Medicine’s Clinical Virology Laboratory developed testing for COVID-19 in-house, enabling rapid testing for health care workers. Yale researchers are also exploring how patients’ genetics affect outcomes, initiating clinical studies for new therapies, and developing new ways of quickly producing essential medical equipment. To coordinate these and related efforts, the university has established a COVID-19 Response Coordination team (CoReCT).The university is supporting vital research on COVID-19 and sharing knowledge about the pandemic with the Yale and New Haven communities. Seven experts from Yale and the City of New Haven held a virtual town hall on March 18 to inform the public and policymakers of the latest developments in the COVID-19 pandemic. Yale held its first town hall to address the outbreak on February 6.
  • YSPH research teams are developing models of the pandemic that will help direct resources to the most urgent needs. Public health and other faculty members are serving as consultants for New Haven community leaders to help address issues such as seniors in crowded housing, food insecurity, and homelessness.
  • Yale School of Public Health students and faculty created a twice-weekly newsletter that provides the greater New Haven and Yale communities with the latest information on the number of COVID-19 cases in Connecticut, as well as important national, international and statewide news updates.

Addressing community needs

  • During the spring and summer, Yale provided 1,800 free room nights — plus free food and laundry — to New Haven first responders.
  • Yale has established the Community for New Haven Fund, which aims to raise $5 million to support health care delivery, assistance for local businesses, community educational needs, and area not-for-profits focused on, for example, the well-being of children and families, homelessness, and food insecurity. Yale contributed an initial $1 million, and will match every dollar given by faculty, students, and staff up to the $5 million goal. The fund was set up in consultation with both the United Way of Greater New Haven and the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven. It will be managed by Yale’s Office of New Haven Affairs and overseen by an advisory committee. Organizations can apply for funding here.
  • Yale is participating in the Together New Haven Economic Resiliency team meetings, working with the city and local partners to help mitigate the impact of the loss of economic activity and promote and support local businesses.
  • Yale Hospitality remains dedicated to its longstanding tradition of donating food to soup kitchens such as the Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen (DESK) and Haven’s Harvest. It continues to donate food to DESK and Harvest during the pandemic, and it has committed to providing organizations serving those experiencing homelessness in New Haven with to-go boxed meals, prepared dishes, and whole food items. To help support the local economy, Yale Hospitality also has increased food purchases from local vendors.
  • University Properties has suspended March and April base rent payments for over 100 city businesses located in university-owned buildings. The university is also promoting restaurant delivery services and an initiative to support the downtown shops and restaurants and their employees.
  • Yale is continuing to employ and pay the salaries of the 6,000 New Haven residents who work at the university.
  • Yale is working with the United Way of Greater New Haven on a community volunteer initiative that provides online tutoring for K-12 students and food distribution for community members.
  • Yale School of Medicine doctors and Physician Assistants (PA) are helping to round up personal protective equipment (PPE) for the hospital by contacting local businesses. They have volunteered with organizations such as Mpowerment of APNH (formerly AIDS Project New Haven) and Stratford EMS.  Yale students across disciplines are assisting with tele-health visits at HAVEN Free Clinic, and are volunteering with Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen, Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services, and Food in Service to the Homebound.
  • Medical and nursing students have been helping the elderly get groceries, and are placing calls to them at nursing homes to offer companionship amid particularly isolating circumstances.
  • YSN is working with state and national partners, including licensing boards, to ensure that educational guidelines will allow all nursing students to continue in their educational progression, so they can stay on track to join the healthcare workforce.
  • University and Yale New Haven Hospital employees have held blood drives to shore up the hospital’s supply.
  • Yale New Haven Health created a COVID-19 Call Center at 203-688-1700 that is open Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. To date, the Center has fielded several thousand calls.
  • As we continue to practice social distancing, Yale is providing New Haven residents and people from around the world over 40 free online university courses, such as Professor Laurie Santos’ popular “Science of Well-Being” Coursera class. Santos’ Happiness Lab podcast will also feature a special COVID mini-season. In addition, the university is hosting webinars and other resources to help people cope with stress and feelings of loneliness. 
  • The Yale Divinity School (YDS) has donated half the time of Alison Cunningham ’84 M.Div., director of professional formation, to develop a plan for the city to address the special challenges around the population of people who are experiencing homelessness. Cunningham was the longtime director of New Haven’s Columbus House before joining the YDS staff a year ago.
  • Yale Divinity Students and Kyle Pedersen ’02 M.A.R., director of the Connecticut Mental Health Center Foundation, are helping area churches in need of assistance as they adjust to online worship and virtual community in a state of shelter-in-place.
  • Several dozen Yale Law students are working together to offer support to businesses and nonprofits in the greater New Haven community as they confront the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the last few weeks, the Ludwig Center for Community & Economic Development and the student-run COVID Student Small Business Support Project have collaborated to develop educational materials and access to legal services for New Haven’s small business community.


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Part of the In Focus Collection: In crisis, Yale and New Haven stand united

Media Contact

Karen N. Peart: karen.peart@yale.edu, 203-980-2222