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None of us ever imagined that we would be living through a pandemic. We always knew it was a possibility, but it never seemed like it would happen to us. While our medical community is on the front lines helping to treat patients amid all the uncertainty, many of us have been wondering how to help during the coronavirus pandemic.
In this post/video, I want to share 10 ways that we can help during the coronavirus pandemic.
1. Follow proper hygiene and social distancing guidelines:
Help “flatten the curve”
These guidelines aren’t just for those who are sick. It’s actually more important for those who are not infected in order to prevent and slow the transmission rate of the virus.
You are probably well-aware of the phrase “flattening the curve.” This is critical for us to achieve in order to reduce overwhelming our healthcare system and workers.
We previously covered how to wash your hands along with disinfecting surfaces and not touching your face. However, many of us are now having to social distance ourselves from others in order to slow the spread of the virus.
Assume that you are infected
This doesn’t mean that you can’t go outside to go for a walk and get some fresh air, but I’ve noticed that some people seem to be loosely following the rules by attending gatherings outside or exercising in crowded places.
A good rule of thumb is to assume that you’re a carrier, even if you aren’t showing any symptoms. This means that you want to avoid crowds and keep your distance from others. Think about how you can avoid spreading the virus to others, even if you think you don’t have it. We especially want to protect our most vulnerable in society right now, which includes our senior community.
2. Donate blood:
Blood banks have been hit hard by the pandemic as people have been sheltering at home while blood and platelet donations have gone down. Many people depend on blood and platelets to survive, and that doesn’t change just because we’re in a pandemic.
If you’re healthy and meet the criteria, I highly recommend scheduling an appointment with your local Red Cross blood donation center.
Are there risks to visiting a blood donation site?
Some of you might be concerned with exposure to others during the process of donating blood. That’s a reasonable concern.
Luckily, the Red Cross is also concerned about exposure and has set up enhanced safety protocols that include checking temperatures before allowing donors to enter, wiping down and disinfecting all equipment and contact areas, and setting up increased spacing between donor beds to meet social distancing guidelines.
Eligibility for donating blood
Just keep in mind that the Red Cross does have specific eligibility criteria for donating blood. For example, if you’ve traveled to any location that is currently a hotspot for COVID-19, then you’re likely ineligible to donate blood at this time.
3. Donate money or supplies:
As many of you know, schools have been closed, and unemployment is rising. This combination places enormous strain on many households, especially low income and hourly workers who are trying to provide for their families.
Help feed the hungry and less fortunate
If you’re fortunate to be employed during this period, I highly recommend donating money or food to your local food bank or soup kitchen. It doesn’t have to be a huge donation either. Even a dollar or two can help feed a family in need. If we all contribute just a little bit, our micro-donations can have a macro effect.
Help our medical workers
If you prefer to donate toward medical supplies or support, I highly recommend Relief International, Heart to Heart International, and Doctors Without Borders. Both are helping to provide medical supplies to healthcare workers around the world.
Another option is Global Giving, which is working to raise $5 million toward both medical and food supplies.
The bottom line is that now is the time to help others, especially if your financial situation is stable.
4. Help your neighbors:
I was touched when I recently went on Nextdoor.com in my local community and saw offers from neighbors to get groceries or supplies for others. This is especially important for those in our community who are most vulnerable, like our seniors who might not have the resources or ability to prepare.
And it’s not just our neighbors. Think of the people in your life whom you interact with on a regular basis. I bet there’s someone who could use your help. Whether it’s a grocery run or even moral support, there are so many opportunities within our neighborhoods to help others.
Isolation and loneliness are a real problem, and it’s only being compounded by this pandemic. Help your neighbors connect and don’t wait for those who need help to ask. Be proactive and see how you can help others in your community.
Teach people about contactless cards
And for those of you in this community who are into credit cards and points, I urge you to help those in your life with things like setting up contactless or mobile payments. It might not seem like much, but even reducing one’s exposure through the exchange of cash might prevent an infection.
Again, it’s these small changes that can help make a larger impact. Sharing your knowledge, as simple as it sounds, can make a difference.
5. Volunteer virtually:
Perhaps you’re stuck at home and wondering if there is a way that you can help without getting additional exposure. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to help. Many organizations like the United Nations and Red Cross need volunteers and have roles that are completely virtual.
If you have the bandwidth and time, now might be the perfect opportunity to volunteer, even if you have to do it behind a computer.
6. Support local businesses:
The economic impact of the pandemic on our local businesses is devastating. Small businesses need our help. Consider ordering food online to support local restaurants. For other businesses that you frequent, consider buying gift cards that you can use once the situation settles.
Also, think about people in your life whom you depend on regularly for services like haircuts or childcare. These folks likely need help too. You might consider paying them for work, even if they are unable to provide it.
7. Give generous tips to service workers:
Many service workers do not have benefits, so it’s important that we try to help them as much as possible. Consider giving a bit extra to those who may not have paid time off or benefits.
8. Think of creative ways to connect with others:
More than ever, we need to find ways to connect with those in our lives. This pandemic will undoubtedly cause people to feel isolated and depressed. While we may not be able to spend time face-to-face, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t options.
Leverage technology to communicate
Luckily, we live during an amazing time when it comes to technology. There are so many free tools that we use to connect with others, whether it be through video or even games.
Now is the time to use technology to help connect with others, especially when we’re all trying to practice social distancing.
For example, one of my best friends and I decided to meet this week for coffee virtually. We set up a time, both made coffee, and dedicated time to chat as if we were meeting at a café.
Also, Fiona and I had planned to celebrate a friend’s birthday this past weekend but had to cancel due to the pandemic. However, we decided to meet virtually to catch up over a video call. It doesn’t replace being there in person, but it’s so much better than texting.
Engage others in games
And I’ve even heard stories of people hosting game nights virtually with their friends. In fact, both Fiona and I love to play tabletop games, so we’re planning to host a game night where we stream a copy of JackBox Games over Zoom. If you haven’t tried Fibbage, which is one of the games included in the pack, it’s one of our favorite games to play with friends. Just because we’re not in the same place doesn’t mean that we can’t still play and enjoy a game night with our friends.
Again, isolation and loneliness are real issues during this pandemic. Help your friends and family to stay connected during this tough time.
9. Use correct terminology:
One of the most toxic results of this pandemic has been the misuse of terminology and names to associate the virus with specific people. For example, the Asian community has been the target of many attacks due to the stigma created by these names.
It’s important that we fight against this misuse of language and names. This is a global pandemic that requires us all to band together to fight it. Blaming an ethnic group is wrong, hurtful, and counterproductive.
The truth behind the “Spanish influenza”
And just to illustrate the point further, the flu pandemic in 1918 is often referred to as the Spanish Influenza. Though the Spanish were stigmatized for the outbreak, it didn’t actually start there.
Scientists now believe that the virus originated from farmers in Kansas who were drafted in World War I. They ended up spreading the virus in Europe, which then resulted in a pandemic.
This pandemic is a global issue, and we need to find ways to unite to confront it. That means using the correct terminology, like COVID-19 or the novel coronavirus, and confronting those who wish to call it otherwise to blame a specific group of people.
10. Practice kindness and compassion:
It’s more important now than ever that we practice empathy and kinship with one another. These are difficult times, and it’s easy to focus solely on ourselves.
I would argue that now is the most important time for us to care for one another. The situation is likely going to get worse before it gets better. But it doesn’t mean that we can’t lead with compassion.
How are you all doing during this pandemic? What other ways have you found to help your community?