How to help us all get through the coronavirus outbreak

The coronoavirus outbreak is scary for those most at risk of severe health consequences. It’s also scary for all of us with friends and loved ones who are at risk. And it’s disrupted everyone’s lives here in the Seattle area. But we’re in this together, and we’ll get through it together.

Here are nine ways that you can help your friends, family, neighbors, and community as we all deal with this public health emergency for the next several weeks.

  1.  Practice good hygiene and social distancing. Do your part to keep your family and neighbors healthy too. Avoid shaking hands or touching your face (as hard as that is). Wash your hands often, and for at least 20 seconds, with soap and warm water. Sneeze and cough into your elbow. Regularly clean surfaces that are touched, including doorknobs, handles, counters, faucets, keyboards, tv remotes, and phones. Wash all the towels twice as often as you normally would.
  2. Check on your neighbors, and pitch in. If you have neighbors who are elderly or in poor health, check in on them (while practicing proper social distancing). They may not feel comfortable going to the store to pick up essential needs; offer to go shopping for them. Also, now that schools are closed, your neighbors may be in need of childcare; offer to help if you can make the time. This is especially important if your neighbors work in healthcare, because in the coming weeks our medical system will be stretched to (or beyond) its limits, and we will need every healthcare worker at work. My neighbors are doctors; I can’t do what they do, but I can watch their kids while they are off saving lives.
  3. Tutor the neighbor kids. There’s going to be a lot of remote learning going on in the Seattle area, and some kids will do better than others. You can help the kids in your neighborhood who might be struggling to keep up.
  4. Order take-out. You may not feel comfortable sitting in a restaurant; that’s understandable. But restaurants are struggling right now, and if we want them (and their employees) to still be there when this is over, we need to throw business their way now. So order food to-go, take it home, and eat it in the safety and privacy of your own home. My daughter and I split an Ezell’s four-piece combo chicken dinner last night. Best. Comfort. Food. Ever.
  5. Buy gift cards. Grocery stores will come out of this fine; many other shops, not so much. They need cash in the door, now, to pay the rent, the utilities, and especially the payroll. If your job and paycheck is secure, go into the small businesses you usually visit and buy a gift card. You can use it at some future point in time when you feel comfortable shopping again. This also holds for restaurants: go buy a gift card at your favorite local restaurant, in lieu of eating out now.
  6. Donate to local non-profits. Most of the local cultural attractions are closed now, and will be for the next several weeks. But they still have employees and bills to pay. By the time this is over, they will be in great financial pain. If you have the capability, make a donation now. That includes art museums, theaters, the aquarium, the zoo, the science center, colleges and universities. It also includes organizations that will have even more critical importance in the weeks to come: homeless shelters, community health clinics, food banks, El Centro de la Raza, The Chief Seattle Club… the list goes on. They need us now, and we have to step up. Also support local journalism; advertising revenue is way off for them right now. And if you want to donate to support the local response to coronavirus, you can contribute to the Seattle Foundation’s COVID-19 fund.
  7. Give blood. Donations are down, and the need is about to skyrocket. This will directly save lives.
  8. De-escalate situations. Stessed-out people lash out at each other more. It’s going to happen to all of us. Don’t take it personally. Just let it go.
  9. Show people you care.  Ask people how they are doing, and listen to their answers. This is a very stressful situation, and as we all practice our proper social distancing many of us will feel even more isolated. We can still connect with other people even if we have to reduce touching. Be there for the people in your life.