The declaration of a global pandemic in 2020 posed immediate risks to global health and life. While some specialists may have predicted a pandemic crisis of global scale, the details of what would happen were largely unknown and unpredictable. The unknown aspect of the pandemic presented scientists with the challenge of responding quickly with methods that would allow for change. Researchers from many disciplines were and are tasked with documenting and researching the coronavirus and related social aspects, including, for example, understanding peoples’ interpretations and willingness to follow health guideline behaviors that can curb the spread of COVID-19, and the impacts of the pandemic on mental health. This project, “The Sociocultural Dimensions of COVID-19,” began within days of the of the pandemic announcement and grew to include mixed-methods and international collaborations. I began the project quickly using exploratory methods prior to knowing how the events of the pandemic would unfold. Once the project was underway, the team grew to include graduate students, collaborating faculty researchers, and international researchers. We expanded the methods with a nine-country comparative online questionnaire. So far, the research has resulted in research-based shareable knowledge on health behaviors, insights for staying well over the holidays, information on xenophobia and health equity in the United States, and documentation of quickly changing social perceptions of disease. This example of the beginning and growth of this project provides opportunities for thinking through the use of qualitative inquiry in unexpected crises and increases overall readiness for rapid response.