Are you looking for some way to help during this pandemic? Are you feeling anxious about being stuck at home? Do you want to distract yourself from all of the negative headlines and occupy yourself with something more hopeful? If so, below are just a few of the ways you can help others through this crisis while also keeping yourself safe from infection.
“Great occasions do not make heroes or cowards; they simply unveil them to our eyes. Silently and imperceptibly, as we wake or sleep, we grow strong or weak; and at last some crisis shows what we have become.” — Brooke Foss Westcott
If you’re healthy and have a bit of extra income that you can do without, consider donating some cash. There‘s an ongoing need for workers, supplies, and funding due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Millions of people have lost their employment (just in the past few weeks) that are no longer able to pay for the essentials that they need to keep their families safe and fed. And, many elderly people have found themselves isolated and scared to step outside their homes. You can help by donating to non-profits currently tackling the myriad of issues cropping up because of the virus and government-induced shutdowns.
If you’d like to help medical workers — many of who are becoming ill and dying because of a lack of medical supplies that prevent them from contracting the virus — you can donate to places like UNICEF who is working to distribute masks and other protective gear to medical workers, especially when governments may be pinning hopes on miracle inventions rather than the needs of the moment. You can also help those who are economically disadvantaged and need access to healthcare and donate to places like “International Rescue Committee” or “Partners in Health.” If you’d like to help support those who are currently out of work, you can donate to, “Feeding America” or “The Salvation Army.” Lastly, if you’d like to help those who are most vulnerable to the virus itself — the elderly — please consider donating to places like “Meals on Wheels.”
Sars-cov-2 may trigger a shortage of blood supplies in the near future. The Red Cross has had to cancel over 4,500 of its blood drives since March 18th, which has resulted in significantly fewer donations. Although the majority of blood supplies won’t be going directly to help those suffering from COVID-19, you can help by donating blood for other people in need — such as those who’ve gotten in car accidents, are needing organ transplants, or any physical trauma which results in major blood loss. Your donation can help save a life.
But how? All you have to do is click this link, enter your zip code, and set an appointment with the Red Cross. If you prefer to call, their phone number is 1–800-RED-CROSS. If the red cross does not provide a convenient location for you, click here to find more donation sites.
And, if you’ve been exposed to the virus already, your anti-bodies may help those currently suffering from COVID-19 and the scientists trying to understand the epidemic. Currently, in places like Santa Clara, California, you can enroll to have your blood tested for Sars-cov-2 anti-bodies (cells that help kill the virus that you get after you’ve recovered from it). This helps scientists and doctors in these two ways: It helps them gain a better understanding of how widespread the virus really is and the antibodies in your blood may help fight the virus in others. Although this second point is currently speculation, there is a body of research that supports the idea that it might work.
Help others get supplies
If you can afford it, consider donating some of your supplies to those in need. If you are in the possession of things like N95 masks, and you have enough to spare, you could donate some of them to people who may not be able to afford them. You could even consider donating to the healthcare workers working to help prevent the spread and treat those suffering from COVID-19.
Gloves are another commodity that is in high demand at the moment. If you have an abundance of gloves, consider distributing some of these to those who may need them. For example, if there are any elderly people in your neighborhood in need, consider dropping off some supplies to help prevent them from getting the virus. However, if you plan on physically distributing supplies, make sure to keep at least 6-feet of separation from others and avoid touching your face as much as possible. Don’t sacrifice your own safety and health in trying to help others unless you absolutely feel you must.
Do not hoard supplies
Buy only as much as you need. There’s currently no reason to horde supplies and doing so may prevent others from being able to buy these things. For example, if you buy and hoard face masks, you may be making it more difficult for medical workers to get them. Don’t panic. By making it more difficult for medical workers to find masks, you are indirectly contributing to them potentially getting sick from the virus.
It isn’t likely that things like toilet paper and water bottles will go out of production. If you buy a month’s worth of toilet paper and water, you will be able to do so again next month. The same goes for things like canned food and bread. Although it would be a good idea for you to purchase a few months of supply of these essentials so that you can limit how often you have to go outside during this pandemic, buying more than just a few months worth of supplies won’t help you. If fact, doing so will only work to make these products more expensive and exceedingly difficult for others to find.
Keep tabs on your loved ones, neighbors, and friends
Humans are dependent on others for survival. Not just for supplies and for protection, but for attention and attachment. Social interaction, according to social neuroscientists, is a necessity for humans similar to food and sex. This pandemic will not just bring about a mass of physical illnesses, but also mental. Many are experiencing mental breakdowns due not only to the anxiety induced by headlines but also by loneliness. Now is the time to check in on those around you — your neighbors and friends, especially the elderly — to make sure they are faring well.
There is strong evidence that traumatic events — like quarantines due to pandemics — can cause things like post-traumatic stress disorder in those who live through them. Researchers conducting a review of existing studies relating the mental health outcomes of people who’ve undergone a quarantine said, “If quarantine is essential, then our results suggest that officials should take every measure to ensure that this experience is as tolerable as possible for people.” Physical distancing needs to happen in order for us to slow the spread of this virus and “flatten the curve;” but physical distancing does not require social distancing and isolation. That is, by checking in on our neighbors and loved ones, we can help make this experience more tolerable and help improve each other’s mental health.
There is a lot of misinformation being passed around during this crisis. Some are claiming that this pandemic is government-induced for the purpose of distracting people while it installs “5G” towers. Others are claiming that the towers themselves are spreading the virus (and something about Bill Gates). Still others — equally misguided and perhaps even more dangerous — are claiming that the virus isn’t really all that deadly and just something being perpetuated by the “fake news” media. All these lies are harmful and can lead to more people being infected than necessary. Help combat these misguided people by correcting them and spreading truth instead.
Others are more than misguided and instead malicious; they seek to profit from your fear and anxiety. These people are merchants of false hope and nothing more. Not only should they be corrected, but they should also be reported and prosecuted for knowingly taking advantage of a crisis. If you’re in the US, you can report these people by emailing the Department of Justice. For more information on these scammers, and how to avoid becoming part of one of their scams, read these guidelines by the Federal Trade Commission.
Volunteer to Help
If you’re unable to donate money, you could consider donating some of your time. As previously said, many people, especially seniors, are suffering from loneliness and are feeling isolated because of this quarantine. To help, you could volunteer to interact with some of these people virtually — without having to leave your home and put yourself at risk. If you’d like to help in this way, consider volunteering with “Points of Light.” Alternatively, you can also volunteer to help people in crisis by responding to their texts, share your books on “Bookshare” with people who suffer from reading disabilities, help people with trouble seeing navigate their world on “Be My Eyes,” tutor kids online with “Upchieve”, or even help with transcribing or translating. There is an abundance of ways you can be helpful to others virtually during this crisis.
If you’ve tested positive for having Sars-cov-2 antibodies, meaning you’ve already had the virus and have recovered from it, you can consider volunteering to places that will require you to leave your home. Unemployment has skyrocketed, and will most likely continue to rise; plenty of people will be in need of food and supplies. If you’d like to help, consider volunteering some of your time at a local food bank. Alternatively, you could help deliver meals to seniors with “Meals on Wheels”, help support local homeless shelters, or adopt a pet from a shelter who may be in need. These are good options for people no longer at risk from the virus who know how to keep themselves safe.
3D Print masks and distribute them to those who need them
3D printers are having a moment. If you own a 3D printer, you can get involved by downloading, and distributing, plans for protective masks and gear. 3D printer companies, health officials, and websites like “Thingverse” make 3D printing schematics publicly available. You can print face masks, face mask straps, face shields, nasal swabs; some are even printing ventilator parts. If you have a 3D printer and can spare the time and materials, consider downloading some of these printing instructions and distributing them to people who may need them.
Some are even taking the time to design their own safety gear. Aaron Bratton, out of Little Rock, Arkansas, for example, decided to design a reusable and easy to sterilize protective mask. This mask — which he has labeled the “MF14” — is compatible with any filter material and was designed for non-clinical scenarios (of use to police, paramedics, the general public, etc). His mask is unique in that the material it’s made of is more durable, lightweight, and more easily sterilized than previous models. He’s made the mask freely available to be downloaded and distributed by the public, but also ships out to those who don’t own a 3D printer. Aaron has even started distributing these to his fellow dentists around the country. If you’d like to get involved in a similar way, or if you’d like to get your hands on one of his masks, reach out to him here.
Stay at home (especially if you’re sick)
Perhaps the most impactful thing you can do to help during this pandemic is to stay at home — especially if you’re sick — as much as possible. Spreading the virus will not only put your own life at risk but also put the lives of others at risk. The more you disregard instructions by experts, and the more you fail to maintain distance from others who may be transmitting the virus and not even know it, the more you will be contributing to the pandemic and the potential loss of life it will cause.
Models are diverging in the amount of death and infection they’re predicting over the next few months. But, all of these models agree on one thing; physical distancing measures can dramatically decrease the amount of disease and death that will be caused by COVID-19. Do your part and stay at home as much as possible. Avoid large gatherings, stay at least six feet away from others and request others do the same, and wash your hands thoroughly. This may help save not just your life, but the life of those you love, as well as the lives of doctors and health workers who bravely and selflessly confronting this virus. Do your part and be part of the solution, not the problem.