In the last month, the coronavirus pandemic has sent markets crashing, healthcare providers scrambling, and forced mass business closures across the globe. Between skyrocketing unemployment rates and medical supply shortages, thousands of people are now struggling to obtain essential services and resources. And while stay-at-home mandates and self-isolation are two of the best ways to prevent further transmission of the virus, it’s easy to feel helpless while stuck at home. The good news is that if you’re able to, there are several ways to help those in need. Here’s how you can give back to your community and support those most affected by Covid-19:
Reach out to at-risk neighbors
While Covid-19 can affect anyone at any age, those who are over 65 or are immunocompromised are at higher risk of becoming critically ill from the virus. If you are healthy and in a lower-risk age group, consider reaching out to these neighbors and offering to help with things like grocery shopping, prescription pick up, or meal deliveries. You can protect them from potential germs by leaving these items outside their front door. If they have everything they need, try calling or texting just to check in every so often, as self-isolation can be particularly lonely. If you feel comfortable, you can even stand outside their door and chat as long as you stay at least 6 feet apart.
Support local restaurants and businesses
Several restaurants and stores have been forced to close physical, in-person operations, as well as cut staff because of Covid-19. You can help keep these places afloat by ordering takeout, delivery, or even purchasing gift cards. To reduce your risk of Covid-19 exposure when ordering food, you can request your delivery person leave your order outside the door. Just be sure to wash your hands after emptying the contents of the bag and before eating. Several nonprofits and organizations, like the Restaurant Worker’s Community Foundation, as well as the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation, have even established funds to help restaurant employees who have been laid off during this time. The James Beard Foundation is also offering microgrants to independent food and beverage businesses who are experiencing hardship.
Due to the cancellation of several blood drives, the American Red Cross is experiencing a severe blood shortage. There is also concern that if the number of Covid-19 positive cases continues to rise, there will be far fewer donors. If you’re healthy, consider donating blood, platelets, or AB elite plasma in order to help ensure a stable community supply throughout the pandemic. The Red Cross has put extra precautions in place to enable social distancing while donating. You can find a list of places to donate blood here.
Organizations like the Red Cross and the American Association of Blood Banks, as well as several hospital systems like Mount Sinai, are also looking for individuals who have fully recovered from Covid-19 to donate plasma. These individuals have antibodies in their plasma that can attack the virus and can be used to help current patients with serious or life-threatening infections. Such plasma therapy is still being evaluated as a treatment for Covid-19, though it has historically been used in the past to treat new viruses. For more information, see here.
Avoid panic buying
While it may be tempting to stock up on as much as possible during these uncertain times, it’s important to be mindful of others when shopping and avoid hoarding goods. Take only what you absolutely need and leave the rest for others who actually need those items. This is especially true for essentials like toilet paper, disposable gloves, masks, and hand sanitizer. You should also steer clear of any WIC or food stamp labeled items as those who rely on such government-funded nutrition programs cannot swap them out for alternative brands.
Volunteer when possible
Though many businesses have closed for the time being, several community service organizations remain open in order to serve vulnerable populations. Organizations like Meals on Wheels are in desperate need of volunteers right now in order to continue to provide meals to seniors during the pandemic. Volunteers can maintain social distancing by picking up and delivering goods to those in need. Similarly, many food banks are in need of individuals to bag up and prepare food and produce bags.
Donate to nonprofits and community service organizations
If you can’t volunteer in person and have the resources, there are plenty of nonprofits, relief funds, and GoFundMe fundraisers seeking donations at this time. Contact your local food bank or homeless shelter to see what items they need or if they would prefer a monetary gift. Looking to support a particular group or cause? Check out these detailed lists from The Washington Post and The Cut.
Foster a pet
Due to social distancing and limited volunteers, many animal shelters are looking for temporary foster homes right now. This is also a great way to spend your time while self-isolating or stuck at home.
Follow government and health authority guidance
While it may feel like you aren’t contributing anything by staying at home, social distancing, in itself, is a public service. By following CDC guidelines and quarantining, you are helping to stop the spread of Covid-19 and protecting others in your community from becoming critically and possibly fatally ill. As the pandemic continues, it’s important to stay up to date on the latest guidance from your local health authorities and continue practicing preventative measures. For more on how to protect yourself and others from Covid-19 please see here.
Given the high volume of coronavirus cases, hospitals and healthcare providers are currently experiencing an extreme shortage of personal protective equipment (known as PPE). This is the gear that medical staff wear to protect themselves from germs, as well as to prevent transmitting infections from one patient to another. If you have items like unused N95 respirators, surgical masks, or gloves, look to your local government or department of health site, or contact the hospital directly. You can also donate to drives and funds like Mask Match, GetUsPPE, and Donate PPE.
The One Medical blog is published by One Medical, an innovative primary care practice with offices in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, Portland, the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and Washington, DC.
Any general advice posted on our blog, website, or app is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace or substitute for any medical or other advice. The One Medical Group entities and 1Life Healthcare, Inc. make no representations or warranties and expressly disclaim any and all liability concerning any treatment, action by, or effect on any person following the general information offered or provided within or through the blog, website, or app. If you have specific concerns or a situation arises in which you require medical advice, you should consult with an appropriately trained and qualified medical services provider.