Here’s How You Can Help Your Neighbors During the Coronavirus Pandemic

By Published on March 22, 2020

As both the death toll and cases of COVID19 increase across the globe, President Donald Trump has declared a state of emergency and urged Americans to self isolate in order to prevent the spread of the disease.

Not everyone has the same ability to care for themselves during this crisis, however. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned that the elderly are particularly at risk for the coronavirus, and those who are hospitalized may not always receive the care that they need unless their neighbor steps up to the plate.

Americans can help their neighbor survive the coronavirus crisis in a variety of ways.

Donating to Local Food Banks

Many Americans may be in extra need of food throughout the pandemic, particularly workers who are underpaid or out of work and their families.

Schools that regularly provide meals for low-income students have closed across the country, and while some of them are offering meals, Americans can aid their neighbors by donating to local food banks.

You can donate to your local food bank through organizations like Feeding America, a nation wide book bank that distributes 4.3 billion meals each year. Food banks encourage you not to donate broken, dented, opened, or expired items, as well as items in glass packaging, foods that need containers, dairy, baby formula, perishables, or unlabeled packaged food.

Helping the Elderly Buy Food

The CDC has warned that older adults who are 65 years and older are at higher risk for severe illness from the coronavirus.

“Older people are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 which may result in increased stress during a crisis,” the CDC warns. “Fear and anxiety about the COVID-19 pandemic can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions.”

Family, friends, and neighbors can care for the elderly in their community by buying food for them and dropping it off at their homes. This alleviates the necessity of the elderly going to a grocery store where they could be exposed to the coronavirus.

Buying Gift Certificates to Local Restaurants

Restaurants across the country are taking major losses due to the pandemic as Americans are told to self isolate and avoid large gatherings. This also negatively impacts restaurant workers and their families.

Many of these businesses are retooling and relying on take out services, delivery, and drive through transactions instead of sit down meals.  You can help your local restaurant by buying gift cards to use later on, and by buying or ordering takeout.

“This is not like a natural disaster that’s located in one particular area that passes quickly and we focus on rebuilding,” Sean Kennedy of the National Restaurant Association told NPR. “This is a nationwide problem in which states and localities are just shutting down restaurant operations across the nation without a lot of warning and with tremendous impact for us and our workforce.”

Watching Children for Those Who Must Work

Not everyone has the privilege of working from home, especially health care workers, which can be stressful for those who have children that need to be cared for and fed during the day.

Neighbors can assist one another by reaching out to those who may need childcare and offering to watch their children.

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While the CDC says that children “do not appear to be at higher risk for COVID-19 than adults,” children are more likely than adults to not show symptoms of the coronavirus even if they are actually carrying the disease. Neighbors who do offer to care for them should take this into consideration.

Donating Blood

The United States is facing a dire blood supply shortage, the New York Times reports, and though coronavirus treatment does not require blood transfusions, other medical procedures often do.

“It’s an unprecedented situation,” Dr. Pampee Young, who is a chief medical officer of biomedical services at the American Red Cross, told the Times. “We are already actively triaging units, determining which hospitals can and can’t get blood.”

“The worst case scenario could be a bleeding young patient who was in a car accident, and there’s no blood,” Young added. “We’re not quite there yet, but that is the ultimate fear.”

Those who wish to donate blood can visit the American Association of Blood Banks locator, the Red Cross website, or call 1-800-RED-CROSS, among other options.

Checking in on Family and Friends

The CDC has recommended self isolation as the best way to prevent illness, since there is currently no vaccine to prevent the spread of the disease and coronavirus is spread from person-to-person. But self isolating and the constant news about the pandemic can produce both fear and anxiety.

“Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children,” the CDC warns. “Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.”

Neighbors can bring one another solace and support by reaching out and checking in on one another during this period of isolation. This is especially important for friends and family who may be living alone during this time.


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