WEST LIBERTY, Iowa—Shaking Earth Digital recently announced the launch of a new website to provide local resources and information to make it easier for people to self-isolate and quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic.
http://www.insidewestliberty.com features a collection of information on restaurant and grocery delivery available to West Liberty residents, as well as links to city and educational resources. Jens Zalzala, owner of Shaking Earth Digital, a West Liberty based software development company, developed the website.
As the pandemic spread across the United States, Zalzala noticed a concerning trend: “People who were diagnosed with COVID-19 were still going outside, potentially continuing the spread of the virus. However, most weren’t doing this maliciously. They simply felt they had to go out to get groceries and other things in order to survive.”
After researching solutions, Zalzala was hit with a hard truth, living in a rural town makes it very difficult to isolate effectively, especially if you do not have a support system of friends and family. “Larger towns have options for fresh grocery delivery, but we don’t have any in West Liberty,” said Zalzala. Hy-Vee in Iowa City used to provide delivery, but after switching delivery services, they no longer service West Liberty.
However, most restaurants in West Liberty now offer delivery service. Residents also have online options available for non-perishable groceries, though many of these have a one to two-week delivery window.
Zalzala worked with the City of West Liberty to ensure the relevancy, accuracy, and accessibility of the information: “We’re a strong Community! We’ll get through this together,” says city council member Jose Zacarias. Zacarias communicates with local volunteer organizations to try to set up grocery and prescription pickup for home-bound residents.
The website proved an immediate hit after launching on Thursday, March 31. In its first day, it had well over a thousand page-views. A few large updates have already rolled out, including a Spanish translation option.
Further updates will include information on how to order prescriptions online and a way to request personal protective equipment produced by local residents.
Other countries send care packages to citizens diagnosed with the virus to ensure they have everything they need to stay inside. While not feasible in West Liberty (the local government does not receive personal information on those diagnosed), Zalzala hopes that the website gives people a way to get all the information they need to isolate themselves effectively, as well as a way to ask for help if they feel they cannot.