Coronavirus pandemic: What else can we do to help?
Mar 19, 2020 at 3:19 pm #3636849
We’re backpackers and nerds with a wide range of skills and plenty of time on our hands.
Besides following all the recommendations of local health departments, what else can we do to help our communities through this extended disaster?
Be a calm, reliable source of information
Don’t spread misinformation, check with trustworthy sources first. Gently challenge misinformation when you read it or hear it. Communicate the uncertainties, because we have many! Correct yourself when you learn new information. I’m the “go to” guy for science information among friends and family, and I’m swatting rumors like flies at a picnic!
Be a good example
We’ve learned to follow Leave No Trace principles in the wilderness; now we can model good social distancing and shelter-in-place principles for everyone. And when you do go outside, LNT has new advice.
Buy gift cards from small businesses
You can help them and their employees survive – but if they go out of business, your gift cards will be worthless. I just bought gift cards from my local coffee shop at their new pickup window. They thanked me profusely.
“The American Red Cross now faces a severe blood shortage due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations during this coronavirus outbreak. Healthy individuals are needed to donate now to help patients counting on lifesaving blood. Donating blood is a safe process and people should not hesitate to give or receive blood.”
Help your neighbors
Talk to them and offer to help. Share your multi-year stockpile of TP :-) Maybe one shopping trip can fill the pantries of two homes, or maybe your neighbors can’t or shouldn’t go out at all. You can drop packages at their doorstep, ring the bell, and back away.
Backpacking might seem like the ultimate social distancing, but you’ll find many parks and hiker services closed; you could spread the virus without knowing it; and if something goes wrong you could strain local search-and-rescue and medical systems already under great stress. The ATC recommends postponing long-distance hikes. The CDTC recommends that all Americans “avoid discretionary travel.” I’ve cancelled a long-dreamed summer trip. The mountains and trails will still be there when this is over.
Keep dreaming and posting on BPL with kindness and compassion
We can support each other while sheltering in place, and eventually get back on the trails and into the wilderness we love.
You might not be able to do any of these things. That’s OK.
Generosity can be the greatest gift to yourself and your neighbors.
What can you do to support your communities?
— RexMar 19, 2020 at 3:25 pm #3636852Mike BBPL Member
Great message! Thank you for all of the great tips and ideas. We had to venture out this morning to the store and bought a couple things for a friend so they did not have to go out.Mar 19, 2020 at 3:57 pm #3636859Gary DunckelBPL Member
That’s good stuff, Rex. I will add one more – coach all young people that they aren’t invincible. They could be infected but asymptomatic, and they could cause problems for others (especially their grandparents). And politely ask them to NOT go to crowded bars and beaches while on spring break.Mar 19, 2020 at 4:08 pm #3636861Cameron MBPL Member
@cameronm-aka-backstrokeLocale: Los Angeles
Many of us have a few extra N95 masks squirreled away. Any spares will most definitely be appreciated at the local hospital. We have to support our front-line team.Mar 19, 2020 at 4:16 pm #3636864David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
I’d add to many of your helpful suggestions: CALL FIRST or instead of going.
Call first about blood donation. To find out their hours, get a time slot, ask about screening over the phone. Maybe that sniffle you had 3 days ago, or that foreign trip rules you out and that saves you a trip and avoids multiple possible exposures.
Call about the gift card. They can probably pop one in the mail.
Call that neighbor if there’s anything they need from the store if you’re going anyway. But leave it on their doorstep, maybe in the bright sunshine, for a few hours.
Let people in your area know that you’d drop things off on their door step (1 cup of sugar, a baggie of yeast, some 16d nails, etc) for some meal or project they’re working since it would be no exposure for you and much less exposure for them than doing a shopping trip. I’m kind of hoping to palm off some of these 37 jars of crowberry jelly and maybe some of the smoked salmon that came out a bit too hard-smoked (but great in omelets or a soufflé).
My wife and I usually swap cars around depending on who is taking the dog for a ski or wants the higher MPG that day. Now we’re each staying in the car (she’s still working as a physician).Mar 19, 2020 at 5:36 pm #3636874KarenBPL Member
Great ideas on helping others.
As a librarian the recommendation to go to only “reliable” information rings true to me. But, not everyone knows what reliable means in this case (including a few librarians who ought to know better!). I quit Facebook last weekend, temporarily; my friends and so many good people are sharing so much garbage. Fake stuff completely manufactured to fool people. It’s absolutely mind-boggling what is being posted and what is being believed, both to scare people more than they ought to be, and other posts to try to make people believe nothing is wrong. I couldn’t take it any more and no one ever wants to be told they’ve been had so no point in pointing it out. I have to wonder if freedom of speech will one day have to cave in to the suppression of nonsense for the sake of our future. I know I know, how can a librarian say that?! I’m such an ardent First Amendment person. But stopping BS is harder than stopping this virus. And it will impact us all because that fake stuff changes behavior.
I gave blood last week, and then developed a cough, so had to call in to let them know to pull it. Wah. Makes me so sad. I still have the cough, now on day 6. No fever, no sinus issues, nothing else, just a nagging little cough and a bit of tightness in the chest, which gets worse later in the day and then is gone by morning, every day. So i called the hospital Covid hotline and they told me that if I don’t have a fever, it’s not Covid and I should go to work, etc. Isn’t the hospital the most reliable information?! I’ve never had anything like this in my life; it’s not like any cold I’ve ever had. I’m being very careful around other people, staying away.
I’m grateful that we are surrounded by nature and I can go out in it every day and infect no one. I’m encouraging everyone up here to do the same, even if they’re not usually outdoorsy people. Also joined a meditation group – online – and letting others know about it.
I’m offering up a thermometer to my staff in case anyone needs one, since we had two.
I think telling jokes is one of the best things you can do to relieve anxiety and spread some joy during this thing, but you have to be careful of your audience. I appreciate morbid humor even in difficult times; it’s how I learned to cope. The jokes my dad used to tell, from growing up in the great depression! Oy. My brother and I had some good laughs when each of our parents passed away. Of course I loved them and miss them terribly. But they would have laughed too! It’s a very culturally sensitive thing. I wouldn’t post those jokes on FB to the world or recite them at a funeral.
Just smiling and greeting people at the store or out in public. Making them feel like we’re all human, and we’ll get through it.
Checking in a bit more often with far-away family members. Just to reassure.Mar 19, 2020 at 5:48 pm #3636875Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
” So i called the hospital Covid hotline and they told me that if I don’t have a fever, it’s not Covid and I should go to work, etc.”
I think that’s bad advice, but I’m just some anonymous person on the internet :)
covid-19 may not have a fever, abundance of caution assume you have it until it goes away? Maybe that’s impossible in your situation?
So many hard decisions with not very good information. Lot’s of “we don’t know”
maybe ask some other experts to see if they concur?Mar 19, 2020 at 7:11 pm #3636879obx hikerBPL Member
Thanks Rex. Good Ideas. And David a good reminder to not assume you are ok just because you are asymptomatic! Especially when that assumption could bring you or something you have handled into contact with someone else.Mar 19, 2020 at 9:59 pm #3636900
Snopes.com has shot down or confirmed Internet rumors for more than 25 years. They have a “Coronavirus Collection” that covers most of the crazy stories I’ve encountered so far:
— RexMar 19, 2020 at 10:57 pm #3636903
Offer to help a health care or other “essential services” worker
Shopping? Home-cooked meals? Day care for their kids? Pet care? Someone to talk to? These people are risking their lives to help you and your loved ones.
And as @davidinkenai would say: CALL FIRST.
— RexMar 20, 2020 at 10:25 am #3636953PedestrianBPL Member
All great ideas!
Below is an extract of a message I received earlier this week from our local blood center where I usually donate. Please check with your local blood bank and consider donating if you’re at all able.
I only post this because several people I know had questions about the safety of donating during this time. Please check with your local blood center website about their current procedures.
—– Message from blood center ———————————–
We know some of our donors may be thinking, “I’d like to give blood, but I’m not sure if I should with all of this coronavirus news. Maybe I’ll wait it out for a bit.” Still others are staying home because of policy changes at work, which have a ripple effect for blood drives at businesses. We want to take a moment to help address some of the concerns you may be having, assure you that it is safe to donate, and remind you that we need you to come donate blood now more than ever!
The first thing to say is that there is no increased risk to getting coronavirus from donating blood. It is a requirement for giving blood that donors be healthy and without fever, so the risk of exposure to a sick person is extremely low at a blood collection site. Anyone with a risk factor for 2019 novel coronavirus, such as recent travel to a high-risk country or close contact with someone diagnosed with coronavirus in the past 28 days, will not be eligible to donate. And, while SBC blood drives and centers are not mass gatherings (defined by Santa Clara County as 1,000 people or more), we are taking extra safety precautions, like increasing the distance between donors during the donation process (to the extent possible); frequently cleaning all donor areas, including the reception/waiting area, canteen, history booths and donation chairs; and making hand sanitizer readily available. Plus, as usual, all of our equipment is sterile, and most is single use only. What’s more, you can rest assured that we have stringent policies in place to make sure SBC staff are healthy and well.
Remember that, as a blood center, public health and wellness are in our DNA. Now, as always, we are staying on top of any changes on an industry-wide, national and local level.
But perhaps the most important thing to say is that the need for blood does not stop during times like these. If people stop donating blood due to fears about coronavirus, there is a significant public health concern in the risk of local patients not having enough blood products available to support their treatment and recovery.
Every two seconds someone in the U.S. needs blood; that translates into hundreds of patients in our very own community each day who rely on generous donors like you to provide the life-saving products they need. It could even be someone you know. In times like this especially, we must continue to work together as a community to support them.
We currently have a need for all blood types. If you are feeling healthy, please make an appointment to donate as soon as you are able and eligible by visiting sbcdonor.org or calling our team at 888-723-7831. If you still have concerns about donating during this time or questions about your own eligibility to give blood, just give us a call! We are always happy to help.
Thank you for your continued support of local patients.Mar 20, 2020 at 12:32 pm #3636971PedestrianBPL Member
(I already posted this on another related thread but I felt like a repost here wouldn’t hurt).Mar 20, 2020 at 1:57 pm #3636991
Provide tech support for home learners and workers
Many students are trying to continue their education at home for the first time; many workers are new at WFH, too. Unlike many of us, using Zoom, Slack, Google Docs, and other online tools isn’t second nature for them. Some communities have organized free tech support, such as Cruz One in Santa Cruz County, California. Maybe you can start one in your community. Or call your friends and offer help.
— RexMar 20, 2020 at 2:10 pm #3636994
Sew surgical masks
@adamg posted about a project in Washington recruiting home sewers to assemble special medical-grade kits. “Thanks to an overwhelming response from our community, all kits we are producing have been claimed! We’ve received many questions from people wanting to make a mask for themselves or their loved ones. Please note this effort is focused on medical-grade masks for health care professionals on the front lines of COVID-19.” If you can sew, check with your local hospitals to see if you can help, or start something similar.
— RexMar 20, 2020 at 2:33 pm #3636999
Shop local businesses online
The online giants have more business than they can handle, while your local shops are hurting badly. Many have or will soon have online ordering with safe pickup or delivery. Support your community by buying local whenever you can – even if it costs a little more.
— RexMar 20, 2020 at 2:42 pm #3637002
Work with your religion
Many mosques, churches, synagogues, and other religious centers are working to help your community. Ask if you can help those efforts – even if you haven’t been active for a while.
— RexMar 20, 2020 at 2:45 pm #3637003
Pick up school meals
Grade schools are an important source of healthy meals for too many of our neighbors. Most closed schools offer meals-to-go. Ask your friends and neighbors if you can pick up meals for them.
— RexMar 20, 2020 at 2:51 pm #3637004
Shop your local Asian grocery store
Racism is real, and some people are avoiding these stores. You might be surprised to find their shelves well-stocked.
— RexMar 20, 2020 at 2:54 pm #3637005KarenBPL Member
Get take out food from local restaurants, to help them out during a down time.Mar 20, 2020 at 2:55 pm #3637006
Pay for canceled appointments
Did you cancel an appointment with a house cleaner, barber, hair dresser, or similar small business? If it’s in your budget, pay them anyway. You’re “paying it forward” so they’ll be around when you need them later. And don’t forget your usual tip.
— RexMar 20, 2020 at 3:07 pm #3637018
Listen to an anxious friend
I’ve been through near-daily freakouts; luckily my wife and I are on different cycles, so we can calm each other down. Your friends and neighbors may not be so lucky, particularly if they live alone. Call them and let them talk about their fears without judgement or jumping in to correct them – listen and respond calmly. Don’t lie. Refer them to more reliable information.
Tell them a non-virus joke; dumb jokes count! Send them an interesting article about a shared interest. Ask them to tell you about that time … even if you’ve heard the story before. Ask how they’ve helped their community, and suggestion options.
Live voices and faces – phone calls, Facetime, Skype, etc. are much more comforting than text messages and social media posts.
Be a friend. Make new ones.
— RexMar 20, 2020 at 3:10 pm #3637020
Support your local performing artists and venues
Don’t ask for a refund for cancelled shows, especially for struggling non-profits. Buy gift certificates. Send them encouraging messages.
— RexMar 20, 2020 at 3:42 pm #3637025
More tips on comforting friends, based in part on NOLS/WMI psychological first aid guidance:
- Calm yourself first. Try the 4-7-8 breathing exercise.
- Speak and act calmly
- Emphasize the present, the practical, and the possible
- Remind people that they are currently safe (if they are)
- Remind people of their existing strengths
- Create hope by pointing to specific, accurate, and positive facts
- Involve people in self-care, problem solving, and helping others
— RexMar 20, 2020 at 3:48 pm #3637028SteveBPL Member
@steve-2Locale: Eastern Washington
In addition to the excellent previous posts, I would share this link will ALL adult friends and family:
Dangerous times–Vote VERY carefully next time folks.
PS Thanks Rex for the links that included this.Mar 20, 2020 at 7:44 pm #3637083
Encourage business to pivot
Eight Oaks Farm Distillery in Pennsylvania switched to making hand sanitizer which they will give away to “hospitals, assisted living homes, and the local community.” Not only are they serving their community, they’re saving a bunch of previously non-essential jobs. While most of us don’t work in distilleries, we might work for places that could pivot to helping our communities. What are some of your creative ideas?
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