Practical Ways to Help During COVID-19

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I’m a writer, not a public health expert or an epidemiologist or a virologist. I do live with a scientist, but she’s a paleontologist and specializes in animals that are already dead. As far as expertise goes, I don’t have much and I’m not offering any advice other than this: Listen to the people who are experts. They know what they’re talking about.

That said, social distancing and self-quarantining isn’t an easy pill for many to swallow–especially those who want to do something. I get it. I’m a problem-solver by nature. When something is wrong, I want to fix it, not sit and watch as the toilet paper apocalypse unfolds.

Luckily, there are a few things you can do right now, in light of COVID-19 (in addition to washing your hands, social distancing, etc). None of these suggestions require you to leave the house, but they do all ask you to act with compassion.

Ten ways you can make a positive impact during the COVID-19 crisis:

1) Call out xenophobia and racism when you see it. It’s never okay. Ever. Whether you see it on one of your (hopefully infrequent) trips to the grocery store, witness it online, or overhear it when you’re Skyping with your grandma… say something. This is not a “foreign” virus. It’s a virus. It does not discriminate and neither should you.

2) Don’t use the words “just” or “only” when referring to those who will suffer most. The elderly, immunocompromised, and those with underlying conditions are human. They can hear you.

3) Stop hoarding! When you buy in mass amounts you are taking away from others, including those who may need those supplies more than you.

4) Support artists, performers, hourly workers, and those in other hard-hit industries. Gonna be stuck indoors for awhile? Great! Buy some books from an independent author who will no longer be able to attend a big conference that impacts their annual sales! Unable to go out to brunch with your friends? Buy a gift card to your favorite local restaurant instead (or order delivery).

5) Explore permanent accessibility solutions. This one is for the business owners and event planners. So many people who live with chronic illnesses have been asking for opportunities to work from home, attend conferences virtually, etc. for years and have been told it’s impossible. It’s not. We are discovering just how quickly many industries can switch to work-from-home environments. If you run a business, big or small, virtual or brick-and-mortar, now is a great time to think about how you can accommodate everyone ALL the time.

6) Be patient with yourself and others. This is new for all of us. Flexibility is key here.

7) Advocate for change. Contact your local representatives about issues that will make crises like these less disruptive {like better healthcare access for all}.

8) Check in with local food banks and shelters to see if they need supplies. The homeless population is among the most vulnerable. Donate whatever you can.

9) Check in on your neighbors (especially if they’re high risk) and see if you can help them in any way. Maybe teach your older neighbor how to use Instacart or show your friend how to make use of Zoom.

10) Take care of your physical and mental health. It’s VERY easy to feel cut off from the world when you work from home, especially if you’re not used to it. Exercise, drink lots of water, call a friend, and set boundaries around your time.

None of these suggestions are groundbreaking. All they require is a degree of empathy during a difficult situation.