As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread, and we all adjust to a new way of life — complete with “social distancing,” constant hand-washing, and long days during which we never leave our home — it’s become easy to feel helpless and unsure of how exactly to be useful. But even amid all the uncertainty and creeping malaise, if you’re lucky enough not to be personally affected by COVID-19, and are in a position where you can help, there are a few concrete ways you can do so.
Rule #1: Stop going out to bars and restaurants. (In Ontario and Quebec, non-essential businesses are being asked to close their doors and it's expected other provinces will follow suit.) Finding ways to stay busy at home will immensely help others in this time of crisis. You could be affected even if you're young and healthy, and “flattening the curve” — i.e. staying at home unless it's essential and avoiding public gatherings — is going to save lives. It's as simple as that. Ahead, we’ve compiled some other things you can do to decrease the impact of coronavirus for those who are affected, both directly and indirectly.
Check on your elderly neighbors and anyone being quarantined
People who are older, work in hospitals, or have chronic illnesses are more susceptible to the coronavirus outbreak. Check on your family, neighbours, and community members to see if they need anything by calling or texting; if possible, you can drop off food or supplies in front of somebody’s door or in their mailbox.
If you can, financially support those in your community who are losing wages
Fewer people are leaving their houses, which means lost wages for small businesses like restaurant workers, hairdressers, exercise instructors, baby-sitters, dog walkers, cleaners, and many others. Consider pooling together funds for those people whose services you normally can't live without. On a smaller scale, check in with your friends — particularly those who are freelancers, contract, or service-workers — who might be affected and see if there's anything you can do to help.
Support small businesses that are losing revenue
You should absolutely not be hanging out at bars, restaurants, and coffee shops right now for the sake of public safety. But those businesses will suffer, and there are ways you can help: For example, buy a gift card from your favorite neighbourhood restaurant so they have more revenue now for the weeks and months to come.
Support your local food banks
You can also support initiatives in your own community, like Toronto-based Xylk and Sean Brown’s Grocery Bags. The creative duo collaborated on a tote bag to safely deliver groceries and essentials to freelancers, independent artists, laid-off employees or anyone else in need. You can reach out privately by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Give to charities that support people affected by the coronavirus
It's a good time for giving in general, if you're able. There are many Canadian organizations doing frontline work that need urgent support. Canada Helps has a comprehensive list of organizations involved in the response to the pandemic — from B.C.’s Centre for Disease Control Emergency Response Fund to the Women’s College Hospital Foundation Assessment Centre in Toronto. Or see how your favourite brands are helping with the pandemic. For example, Toronto-based intimates brand, Knix, launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise money for hospitals, clinics, and non-profits to restock much-needed supplies, like masks and gloves.
Be a “caremonger”
If you’d like to help others at a grassroots level, consider joining a “Caremongering” group on Facebook or other social-media sites. These local groups have sprung up online to ensure vulnerable people in their communities across Canada have access to necessities such as food, housing, and healthcare. Members can also post requests for aid and support.
Send hospital supplies to the government
If you own a business that can supply products or services in support of COVID-19 response efforts, the Government of Canada needs your help. Products such as disposable surgical masks, gowns, and hand sanitizer are all required.
Give blood if you can do so safely
According to Canadian Blood Services, a spike in appointment cancellations (because of fears of spreading the virus in a group setting) could lead to a shortage of blood. This makes donating now even more important. Also, if you're worried about giving blood while potentially being infected with coronavirus, remember, COVID-19 is only transferred by inhaling or ingesting. “There is absolutely no evidence of transfusion transmission for COVID-19, or any other coronavirus,” says Dr. Steven Drews, associate director of microbiology at Canadian Blood Services.
Speak up against xenophobia and racism
Stop the spreading of false information and rumours
COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic. Go to the Public Health Agency of Canada website for the latest information on symptoms, prevention, and other resources.