Arrow-right Camera
Subscribe now


On the Front Lines: With online courses, Gonzaga senior studying biology finds time to aid in COVID-19 response

Gonzaga University student Eleanor Weisblat is volunteering at the COVID-19 testing site at Spokane County Fair and Expo Center on Saturday. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

Editor’s note: Our new series On the Front Lines recognizes those in the community who are confronting the coronavirus pandemic head on, while the rest of us do are part by stepping back.

Eleanor Weisblat found herself with some extra time on her hands when Gonzaga University closed most of campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic and sent classes online for the remainder of the semester.

The senior studying biology and Spanish also was displaced from her jobs tutoring students and working in University President Thayne McCulloh’s office. She said she plans to be a hospital scribe after she graduates, then apply for further education in medicine or public health.

So when she read a Spokesman-Review article about the opportunity to volunteer at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center screening site, she jumped at the chance.

She was “just looking for a socially responsible way to get out of the house and help,” said Weisblat, who took her fifth turn as a volunteer among about 20 others on Saturday.

It was her first day doing intake at the site, which meant recording information from driver’s licenses and insurance cards so health care workers were ready to screen them for COVID-19 symptoms and risk factors. Before that, she was one of the first to speak with people, direct them where to go and make sure they had their ID ready.

“It’s been really interesting to see because this is an unprecedented situation,” said Weisblat, who shadowed a physician in Spain while studying abroad last year. “It’s been really cool to see the community come together.”

She said front-line health care workers are doing a courageous job but, as a former grocery store clerk, added that other people working in the community, along with their families, deserve recognition, too.

“All the essential workers need to be recognized,” Weisblat said. “The postman still comes every day.”

Weisblat said young people with extra time on their hands should look for ways to volunteer with organizations like Meals On Wheels or just help people around their neighborhoods.

“It’s a good time to help the people you know,” she said.

Otherwise, people should listen to the experts and stay home as much as possible, even reducing trips to the grocery store.

“It seems like the best way to applaud” front-line workers, Weisblat said. “It’s the least we can do.”