How Americans are Being Affected by the Coronavirus — Here’s What You Can Do About It

By Rachel Alexander Published on March 24, 2020

Huge numbers of people have already lost their jobs. Some from the social distancing, some from the effects of social distancing.

The social distancing has killed restaurants. It’s put out of work cooks of all sorts, from chefs in fine restaurants to the short-order cooks at the local diner. Busboys and waiters too. 

Dock hands lost work when the cruise lines shut down. People who work for garbage disposal companies have lost work because all the closed businesses, schools, and restaurants don’t need their services. Your local barber and hair salon may have had to close, because cutting hair isn’t an essential service. All the people who work in stores that aren’t open any more have found themselves out of work.

Craftsmen aren’t getting work because people can’t afford them anymore. Contractors and roofers find contracts being cancelled or postponed. Writers have been losing contracts and assignments

Lots of people you don’t think of are losing their jobs. Many of these perform services at the edges of the economy, people who are putting together lives by hard work. Like petsitters and dog walkers, who lose jobs because of people canceling vacations.

Businesses Helping Businesses

In response, some companies are ramping up. They include Amazon, Costco and some grocery chains. Since many restaurants have been forced to shut down their dining-in option, delivery drivers are increasing. For the most part, delivery drivers can use their own cars and do not need to have newer cars.

There are many jobs that you wouldn’t guess are being affected.

BizX founder Bob Bagga and Aaron Blank, CEO of The Fearey Group public relations firm started a “Business Saving Business” movement to help local businesses in the Seattle area. He helped a chef out of work offer virtual cooking classes to Fearey Group employees as a corporate team-building exercise, with Amazon Prime delivering the needed groceries.

Credit card companies, banks holding mortgages and auto lenders are letting customers skip this month’s payment. If your lender doesn’t offer it to you, ask. Phone and internet companies are agreeing not to terminate accounts for nonpayment. The list of companies is here. Many utility companies are also participating in this.

People Helping People

Other people have shown entrepreneurial drive to do jobs that need to be done in new ways. Delivery services are overwhelmed. I’ve been unable to order groceries from Walmart or Fry’s. This really affects the elderly, some who may not be able to get out of the house to shop. Others don’t want to due to the risk of contracting the virus.

College student Jayde Powell has started a “shopping angel” service to help the elderly get groceries. It also includes a GoFundMe account to help those who can’t afford the cost of the groceries. Connect with her over Facebook to obtain services or offer your help. Some states like New Jersey are mobilizing the National Guard to bring meals to seniors.

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OneDine is offering to turn any restaurant with a parking lot into a “sonic” like take out within 24 hours using their technology for free. This will allow restaurants to let people order, pay and pick-up without leaving their cars.

You can help out severely affected businesses by buying their services and goods in advance. Buy gift certificates to give them the cash now you’ll use later.

Author Shea Serrano is raising money for people who need it on Twitter. He asks people to tweet their situation and how to send them money, then asks his 345,000 followers to retweet them and directly contribute to them. By Sunday, he had raised $10,000.

Each of Us Helping Others

What can you do? Many things. President Trump said he is going to give every working American who is not rich a large sum of money, maybe $2,000. Consider donating this to a relief fund or to someone you know who was hit hard financially by the virus.

Donate blood. Since many people are concerned they may be sick, they are refraining from donating. Healthy people are desperately needed to donate blood since supplies are becoming low. Click here to find a location.

Increase tipping for those being affected the worst, such as waiters and waitresses. I noticed one of my delivery services included a note suggesting I increase my tip for the delivery driver due to the hard times.

A generous customer left a $9,400 tip at a Texas restaurant to help the employees affected there. Louis Galvan, owner of Irma’s Southwest in Houston said it made a difference. “Honestly, we were going to close, but now we’re going to try and make the best out of this deal,” he said. “We’re going to make this thing work.”

Remember the pet sitters I mentioned at the beginning? One dog sitter sent out an email to her regular clients explaining what was happening. She asked if they might consider paying her anyway, even if they did not need her services. My friend’s brother is one of her clients, and I am happy to say he paid her for a week of dog walking.

If you’re not well off, think of ways that you can uniquely help people. When I found out a friend who has helped me in many ways including my website was taking a hit to his two jobs, one a small business, I started giving him advertising revenue from my website. For me, five minutes worth of work for $80 here and there is nothing. He has a son and employees underneath him. 

Groups Helping People

Many organizations have been stepping up to help those in need. And even if you don’t need help, consider donating money or food to one of them. Some states, like New Jersey, are providing advances to nonprofits that contract with the state.

The Global Empowerment Fund is providing money and food to people affected by the virus, especially children not in school who need meals. They’re also providing “coronakits” — tote bags with sanitation wipes, gloves, water and other necessities — to people in various cities.

Children in rural areas can get meals from a collaboration between the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture and the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty, McLane Global, PepsiCo and others. They will deliver almost one million meals a week. Email feedingkids@usda.gov to help.

The Seattle Foundation is providing grants to fund organizations that are helping residents without health insurance or access to sick days, health care and gig economy workers, and communities of color in the Puget Sound region.

People Cheering People

Some people are keeping an upbeat attitude despite the gloomy situation. Some people are applauding the medical workers:

Here’s what some are doing in Italy:

https://twitter.com/QTAnon1/status/1240115722900078592

And in Ireland:

 

Follow Rachel on Twitter at Rach_IC. Follow The Stream at streamdotorg. Send tips to rachel.alexander@stream.org.

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