We believe that in times characterized by uncertainty, that it's important that we seek to support and empathize with one another. This is a time to remember our common humanity, to extend a hand, and to seek to a part of the solution. We are better together. Here's how to support your community through coronavirus.
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(We will continue updating this article. Last updated March 17, 2020).
The word "coronavirus" actually refers to a large family of viruses ranging from the common cold to more serious diseases such as MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV. The current outbreak is a specific kind of coronavirus called COVID-19.
Symptoms of COVID-19 are a fever, cough, and shortness of breath - which, of course, are also the symptoms of the flu, strep, or the common cold. The virus is spread through airborne droplets through sneezing or coughing, and people can catch the virus through their nose, mouth, or eyes.
The most effective ways to protect yourself and others from the virus include:
Washing your hands frequently, with hot water and soap for 30-60 seconds.
Covering your mouth with your elbow if you sneeze or cough.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth - wearing a mask can help.
Wear a mask if you have any symptoms.
Avoid large gatherings of people and stay 6 feet away from everyone you don't live with.
"We should prepare, not because we may feel personally at risk, but so that we can help lessen the risk for everyone.... You should prepare because your neighbors need you to prepare — especially your elderly neighbors, your neighbors who work at hospitals, your neighbors with chronic illnesses, and your neighbors who may not have the means or the time to prepare because of lack of resources or time... the real crisis scenarios we’re likely to encounter require cooperation and, crucially, “flattening the curve” of the crisis exactly so the more vulnerable can fare better, so that our infrastructure will be less stressed at any one time." - Zeynep Tufekci for Scientific American
As coronavirus as been declared a global pandemic and everyone from universities to major conferences to music festivals have cancelled in response, the disease has understandably ignited fear in many worldwide. Through this uncertainty, however, we want to take a moment to gather and reflect on the ways that we are coming together and supporting one another.
We all have an unsuspected reserve of strength inside that emerges when life tests us. (Isabel Allende)
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Making sure you don't pass the virus on to others who are at risk for serious illness or death is the most important way you can help. But we can also channel some of our anxious energy away from reading articles and into thinking about the ways the people in our lives and communities will need our help.
There are many ways to extend a hand (maybe figuratively, in this case) and be a part of the solution. Here are some places to start. Share your ideas with us on Twitter.
Take precautions. Protecting yourself by washing your hands, covering your coughs or sneezes with your elbow, and staying inside if you feel sick also takes care of the people around you.
Check on older neighbors. As they are more susceptible to the coronavirus, many older people have chosen to self-isolate. Check on your neighbors to see if they may need anything - you can talk through the door, if needed.
Share your supplies. Reach out to those around you, especially those who may have had challenges for any reason (children, disabilities, language barrier, etc.) getting to the store to stock up on supplies and food.
Offer to go on shopping trips. Offer to stock up a neighbor or friend who might need some things from the store without being able to get there. Maybe order a food subscription box for them.
Support local businesses. An unfortunate side effect of "social distancing" as a prescribed strategy to help slow the spread of the virus is that local businesses suffer. Support the businesses that are a part of your community by ordering online if you can or buying gift cards for yourself or others. If you need any gifts, we created a gift guide full of Venetian small businesses that ship internationally.
Share support and love. Decorate signs, write notes, put up posters of support in your community.
Be empathetic in the way you speak. While many try to reassure others that coronavirus will only affect "the old or immunocompromised", be mindful of who might be listening in. And while avoiding people to avoid illness is fine, the coronavirus is not an excuse for xenophobia.
Donate blood. As the number of cases of coronavirus increase, the number of eligible blood donors decrease.
Reach out to those who may be grieving. Let those around you know they aren't alone.
Donate money. Look into local nonprofits offering food, shelter, and support to vulnerable populations and donate, even if it's a small amount.
Tip. Now is the time to be extra generous to ride-share drivers and customer service employees to help them bridge the gap from employment to social distancing.
Make phone calls. For every hand we don't shake, let's make a phone call to a loved one. Everyone is being affected by this in some way.
Start a group text. With your neighbors, coworkers, loved ones to check in on each other's needs.
Donate to your local food bank. They will be helping to supply families whose incomes have been cut off with food.
If you're able to work from home and pull your regular salary, can you commit to pay someone who provides you with a regular service even if they have to stay home? Think housecleaners, hairdressers, dog walkers, babysitters, yoga teachers.
We are better together.
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Photo credit: Tim Mossholder on Unsplash