You can turn your panic into action—from the comfort of your own home.
Coronavirus is everywhere, and it's almost impossible to avoid being affected in some way—just like it's almost impossible to avoid all the news coverage about it.
It's also easy to feel helpless as people around succumb to fear and panic. But what we really need right now is to come together—not in person, but from our computer screens, in our neighborhoods, and with whatever platforms we have.
Here are five ways to turn your fear into action and help out during the coronavirus pandemic.
1. Stay inside
There is nothing more important than self-isolation right now. Though it may feel counterintuitive, staying indoors is the absolute best way to prevent more people from acquiring the illness. If you are young and healthy, you still need to stay inside, because anyone can be a carrier of the virus without knowing it—and you could easily pass the virus along to more vulnerable populations, so going out right now is an incredibly privileged way to show that you don't care about other people.
"If you are healthy, but infected, and feeling fine, you not interacting with other people is going to slow this virus down," said Dr. Joshua White, a chief doctor at Gifford Medical Center.
Avoid bars, clubs, and even hangouts with your friends until things start to clear up. Simply having one person over could be enough to spread the virus. It's incredibly difficult, but now quarantining is the best way anyone can use their time. If you have to go out and work or if you have other responsibilities, just use every precaution you can.
It's also important to stay healthy yourself during this time. Don't overdo it with reading the news, don't spread misinformation, and take the steps you need to conserve your own mental and physical health.
2. Donate or support an organization providing emergency relief
The cancellation of school means many kids will be left without school lunches. Local food banks can really use your help right now. Meals on Wheels and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy are running major disaster response efforts. Use this website to find food banks in your area, and if you're seeking a charity to give to, check out this list of trustworthy organizations from Charity Navigator.
Support vulnerable communities like Navajo and Hopi families living in food deserts, incarcerated people, immunocompromised people, and migrant workers.
A few immediate actions you can take now that don't involve money: Text COVID19 to 747-464 or call 1-844-633-204 and ask your state senator to pass the State Coronavirus Bill, which includes the Families First Coronavirus Act. Or, per the NDWA, call 1-855-678-4150 and demand that domestic workers receive paid sick leave.
3. Support the arts, restaurants, and other affected industries
Many people have been left without a source of reliable income during this time. Restaurants are suggesting that you purchase gift cards to use in the future when they're open again, so support your local spot in this way.
You can also donate to freelance artists, either on an individual scale, by purchasing their products, or by supporting funds like the Immigrant Small Business/Freelancer Fund and the Performing Artist Emergency Micro-Lending Grants. If you're able, don't request refunds from venues or services that have been cancelled because of the virus.
There are many resources online for freelance artists. If you are an artist or know any and want to help, check out this comprehensive resource doc.
Sex workers will also be hit especially hard by this crisis. Consider supporting the Emergency COVID Relief For Sex Workers in New York or looking up ways to help in your own country or community.
4. Join a neighborhood movement organization
While isolation is important, if you're able, it's helpful to join a mutual aid fund or check in on your neighbors in whatever way you're able. Be conscious of the fact that, though the coronavirus can affect anyone, everyone has different levels of ability with which they can respond to the crisis. Some people can't afford two weeks of groceries or hand sanitizer, and some people will be left completely alone during this time. Other people already dealing with extreme effects of issues, like mass incarceration and environmental racism, will not have access to necessary precautions and safety.
You can use this flier to check in with your neighbors, check out this guide for help creating a neighborhood pod, or use this form to start your own neighborhood Slack. Check out this doc for more information about mutual aid in general. Or, just send a message to anyone you know who might need help and support to get the ball rolling. It's important to support each other now and deepen our connections, even as we become more divided from each other in terms of physical distance.
5. Stay informed
While it's important to limit your exposure to coronavirus news, it's also important to make sure you're sharing accurate information and helping others sift through the noise instead of adding to it. Understand how coronavirus discourse can play into ableist hypocrisy, racism, and xenophobia, and how other preexisting conditions created by economic inequality and systemic issues can determine who gets affected by the virus. Read perspectives from people who need help, set aside a specific time to do your own research, take action instead of constantly scrolling through panicked posts, make a donation plan or a list of five organizations to donate to, keep an open mind as circumstances change, and stay healthy, friends.
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