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, even if they're still open in your community. 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, neighbors, 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 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 neighborhood restaurant so they have more revenue now for the weeks and months to come. You can also donate to organizations like the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation, which is providing loans to businesses and financial relief to workers, as well as One Fair Wage, which has set up a fund for tipped workers.
Give to charities that support people affected by the coronavirus
It's a good time for giving in general, if you're able. Donate to your local food bank or donate supplies to a homeless shelter. NYC United Against Coronavirus, for example, has listed resources and information. Or, check this list of charities that are battling the outbreak around the world. Vox has also put together a list of organizations, based on the issues you care about most.
Give blood if you can do so safely
A spokesperson for the Red Cross said that as the number of coronavirus cases increases, the number of those eligible to give blood decreases, so there is a demand for donations right now. Hundreds of blood drives have already been canceled. “Every two seconds, someone needs a blood transfusion — that someone may be a cancer patient, a car accident victim or a mother who has given birth," Jodi Sheedy, senior director of biomedical services communications for the American Red Cross, told The Hill. The Red Cross says there is no evidence that the coronavirus can be transmitted by a blood transfusion.
Call your senator to approve paid sick leave and paid family leave
Donate to candidates who will get Trump out of office and help us all deal with pandemics better
Speak up against xenophobia and racism
With the rise of coronavirus, there has been an increase in racist attacks against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders. Help shut these down by calling them out when you see them. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) posted this message on its “Share Facts Not Fear” website: "People of Asian descent, including Chinese-Americans, are not more likely to get COVID-19 than any other American. Help stop fear by letting people know that being of Asian descent does not increase the chance of getting or spreading COVID-19."
Stop the spreading of false information and rumors
Foster a pet, as animal shelters are filling up
More animal shelters are closing, which can mean that there are more animals than the staff can handle. Fostering means housing an adoptable pet while they're awaiting a more permanent home (maybe yours), and it helps prevent overcrowding. “Having a pet around ... is good for your head,” Eric Rayvid, a spokesperson for Best Friends Animal Society, an animal welfare nonprofit, told HuffPost. “It’s going to take you out of yourself a little bit. If you get a dog, it’s going force you to go outside. If you get a cat, it’s going to force you to spend some time cuddling.” Go to The Humane Society's website for resources and ideas on how to take care of pets at this time of crisis.
COVID-19 has been declared a global pandemic. Go to the CDC website for the latest information on symptoms, prevention, and other resources.