Image by Esme AlSibai.
The last two weeks in the U.S. have presented some of the most challenging times we have seen in the last 100 years. The coronavirus pandemic has brought life to a halt, with schools and businesses closed, travel restricted, and an influx of infections overwhelming hospitals and healthcare professionals. Every 24 hours, each morning I turn on the news, I cannot believe the amount of tragedy I witness, with spikes in illness, plunges in the stock markets, and people scrambling to find out how they will survive the coming months. It is more than just a month (or months) of quarantine where we will witness this calamity continue. The long-term economic effects on the globe will last years.
On a personal note:
In an unusual turn of events, we find ourselves back in California for several months. We decided to move back after Princeton University urged students to leave the city to reduce the population. We realize how fortunate we are to have somewhere to go and have the choice to leave.
In the grand scheme of things, this feels very trivial compared to how many people are losing their jobs, at risk of losing their small business, fighting on the frontlines as medical professionals, or suffering from illness caused by #coronavirus. Xenophobia and racism against the Asian community has become another horrible side effect of the pandemic, as well as people losing their humanity at the grocery stores or if someone appears to cough. The lack of reporting on sickness in global communities where dictators reign over their people, covering up the rate of infections, has made my blood boil. The thought that impoverished communities and communities of color will suffer the most on a global scale because of racist and classist societies has made me feel so helpless. The list goes on. This has also discouraged me from posting online, except for information about the virus + ways to help others during this time, as posting anything else feels insensitive and wrong.
As the next weeks and months of quarantine lends a greater social responsibility for those of us online, I will continue posting resources and ways to help others, locally and globally, with hopes of fostering a sense of community. I will also try to post content that is useful to all of us doing our part by staying at home, like self care and self development tools.
I have started putting together a list of things we can do, especially those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to stay home, in safety and comfort. There are many different causes and initiatives to help, something for everyone. This list will be updated as the months go by, even as the virus peaks, as the economic situation of most individuals will likely still be dire. You can volunteer for causes, donate funds, sign a petition, spread awareness, have conversations, or even fundraise with your own cause!
Check out this new website constantly being updated with state and national resources: Covid19 Relief
HELP HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONALS + HOSPITALS
- DONATE: Help @mariamalsibai and @drsaharshafi secure N95 masks and PPE for healthcare professionals! Donate through their Gofundme here
- VOLUNTEER: Those who depend on regular transfusions are increasingly worried as over 4,000 blood drives were canceled in the U.S. because of the coronavirus. The American Red Cross still has blood donation centers open. Volunteer to give blood.
SAVE THE RESTAURANT INDUSTRY
- PURCHASE: Support your favorite foodie spots by purchasing a gift card. There are many gift card specials going on, like adding an additional 20% free to your gift card value at NY’s Crown Shy restaurant. This will allow restaurants to stay afloat and prevent mass layoffs.
- GO LOCAL: Farmers, foragers and fishers have opened their marketplace to the public since restaurants have cancelled their contracts. Seeing as supermarkets have been cleaned out, consider shopping with these independent distributors.
- SIGN: Sign a petition that will allow restaurants government relief. It is estimated 75% of restaurants wont survive this pandemic. Here is the petition from NY restaurants via Roar NY.
- CALL: Call your Representative and your Senators. You can be connected to the capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121. Demand that independent businesses are part of the federal stimulus plan.
- TAKEOUT: Doctors, such as CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta, have said that you cannot catch coronavirus from food. He advises that takeout/delivery is ok, just opt for no-contact drop-off OR change the containers of food when you grab your takeout meals for home. LA’s Bavel and Bestia are offering family-style takeout as well as Huckleberry Cafe. Tartine Santa Monica is offering lunch service, pastries and bread loaves.
- SHOP: Many restaurants and coffee shops are selling things most stores are out of, like milk and produce. Republique in LA and Huckleberry Cafe in Santa Monica have produce from the local farmers markets, along with pantry essentials! Before you make a trek to the big grocery stores, stop by and see if there’s anything you might need! This not only supports the restaurant, but farmers!!!
- COOK: There are restaurants that are offering “cook at home” options, like Milo and Olive in Santa Monica. They are offering their garlic knots and pastas for you to cook and assemble at home! Tartine is offering bake at home cookies and scones.
- DONATE: Support an employee relief fund like RWCF COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund. Most workers who have lost their jobs have also lost their primary source of income and their employer-sponsored health care with no end in sight. RWCF is offering direct relief to restaurant workers, for non-profits serving workers in crisis, and Zero interest loans of restaurants to get back on their feet.
SUPPORT LOW-INCOME FAMILIES + THOSE WHO WERE LAID OFF
- DONATE: Low-income families, contractors, self-employed individuals and the elderly are at risk during this time. Loss of wages, unpaid sick leave, food insecurity, and lack of access to healthcare are anticipated to disproportionately impact these groups. Many live paycheck to paycheck, shift to shift, solely off of tips. Help offset their crisis by donating to organizations like PennyAppeal. They are providing checks to pay for rent utilities, medication as well as transportation.
- SUPPORT: Be an ally to the Asian community who have become targets of racist and xenophobic attacks. If you see something, say something, stand by that person, offer support. If you have neighbors from the Asian community, reach out and let them know you support them and are available to them. Report hateful or false messages about their community online. Offer supportive comment, calling out prejudice or participating in groups intended to support targeted communities.
- VOLUNTEER: If you are a low-risk, healthy individual, think of volunteering to help grocery shop and deliver basic necessities. Find an organization to volunteer for here.
- VISIT: Check on your elderly neighbors, making sure they have everything they need, whether it is groceries or medication.
- CHECK IN: Reach out to individuals with underlying conditions, those most vulnerable to the coronavirus, and make sure they are ok as they stay more restricted in their movements during quarantine.
- TUTOR: As schools have shutdown, many parents are ill-equipped in teaching their children. Language barriers, having little formal education, having an illness of their own which makes teaching hard, or those who are still at work though their children are off are struggling while school is off. Reach out to parents of children K-12, fellow students in your classes, or students you know who may find the new adjustment challenging.
- LEND: Tap into, and lend, your neighbors grocery items they may be missing as stores have been wiped out of many necessary supplies. Many cannot find standard medications like Tylenol in the stores right now, and you may have some to offer in your medicine cabinet.