As the world faces the COVID-19 pandemic, it's crucial to support our communities. At times like these, senior citizens and immunocompromised individuals need assistance — and you can do your part to help keep others (and yourself) safe. We're all in this fight together.
Here's a list of ways to make an impact for those around you.
1. Stay at Home
Above all else, you and your loved ones need to practice social distancing. To stop the spread of COVID-19, we need to work together to flatten the curve. What does that mean? In a nutshell, everyone should remain in their homes and avoid direct contact with others. If people comply, the virus won't be able to spread as easily. As a result, health care professionals can provide the best possible care to those who need it.
These tactics worked for 1918's influenza outbreak. Stay at home unless you need to head to work or pick up groceries or essential items. When you leave the house, be sure to perform preventive hygiene measures. Gloves, face masks and hand sanitizer are all great items to use if you have access to them. Until there's further direction from experts and officials, avoid public spaces, gatherings and interactions.
2. Provide Financial Assistance
Right now, many people don't have the means to contribute financially. That's OK — everyone's efforts matter. However, if you can spare a few dollars, there's never been a better time to donate. By now, most schools and universities have closed for at least two weeks or are holding classes online. Many families rely on the education system for breakfasts and lunches. Now, they're without food.
Similarly, there's a massive lack of medical supplies throughout our country and the world. Some children don't have internet access, so they can't continue to learn alongside their classmates. In any case, there are dozens of worthy causes. Consider one or more donations to an organization that addresses these needs, both locally and globally.
3. Donate Blood
Usually, workplaces and churches, as well as other community spaces, hold blood drives. Due to social distance mandates, groups like the American Red Cross have canceled these events. Therefore, the number of donations has fallen drastically. Unfortunately, even amid a pandemic, people continue to battle health issues that require blood transfusions.
If you can give blood, you can make a substantial contribution. Red blood cells have a shelf life of 42 days, meaning it’s crucial to continue replenishing supplies. Even though this process requires minimal contact, all collection sites have upped their sanitation efforts.
You shouldn't worry about transmitting COVID-19 through blood, as it's impossible to transmit any respiratory illness through a blood donation — it’s the close contact that concerns people. This is why blood banks have instituted private donation appointments. Search online for a nearby center so you can call ahead to schedule an appointment.
4. Support Local Businesses
It's always necessary to support local businesses, but now, it's more important than ever. In most states, all nonessential companies have closed their doors to customers. Instead, they can offer carry-out or delivery and gift cards for future purchases. Thousands of restaurant, bar and shop owners and employees can't earn much of their regular income. If you want to make a difference, do your best to buy from nearby businesses.
Whether you want to order dinner or clothes, choose to do so from local companies. Buy a few gift cards as presents for your friends. There's a ton of ways to help your community stay afloat right now. Even though you can't go out and about, you can still make a difference — just don't forget to tip your delivery driver.
5. Talk With Elderly Neighbors
Currently, older adults are some of the most susceptible to COVID-19. Because they can't leave their homes, they're unable to access specific resources. Some senior citizens don't have children or grandchildren nearby to help them — and that's where you can step in.
If there's an older individual who lives nearby, offer to buy their groceries for them. Bring them books and magazines to keep them entertained. Encourage them to download apps like Skype so they can communicate with their loved ones. You may also want to help them set up an Amazon Fresh or Instacart account for supplies.
In any case, you need to remember to maintain a safe distance. Do not violate social distancing protocols and put your neighbors at risk — virtual or no-touch contact can still make a difference. Don't forget to wash your hands thoroughly before you interact with an elderly neighbor. If they tell you they've experienced symptoms, make sure they contact their doctor.
6. Use Sanitization Methods
A communal space, like an apartment building, becomes dirty fast. If you live close to other people, make sure to use proper sanitization methods at all times. It's essential to bring hand sanitizer or disinfectant wipes whenever you leave your house. This way, you can wipe down door handles and elevator buttons as you go.
That said, many supermarkets don't have these products in stock. The COVID-19 virus can remain on surfaces for hours, so you'll need to take another approach. Use a disposable paper towel or tissue to open entrances. Then, dispose of it immediately. When you make it to your destination, wash your hands as soon as possible.
Give Back in a Time of Need
In unprecedented times like these, it's essential to support our communities. When everyone does their part, we can overcome anything.
Holly Welles is a real estate writer and the editor of The Estate Update. She covers real estate investment, apartment living and personal finance for publications across the web.
*Contributions are solely guest opinions and don’t reflect the opinions of or are endorsed by WYL, our staff, clients or other interested parties.