As coronavirus continues to take its toll around the globe, with 1.5 million cases worldwide as of Wednesday, some people have been left wondering what they can do to help fight the pandemic. While some have made monetary donations, The New York Times wrote a lengthy article on what individuals can do to help their communities, both large and small.
To help underscore its point, the NYT also spoke with Lynne Hewett, a nurse from Utah who flew into New York City in March to assist in the battle against COVID-19. It's not an unusual call for her to make, as she was working as an ER nurse in the city after both 9/11 and Superstorm Sandy. Additionally, she worked in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. Hewet described the circumstances she's currently facing as "overwhelming."
"These are really, really sick patients coming in, needing 10 or 11 people to work on them. These patients are coding," a clinical term for cardiac arrest. "There's not enough staff to have a break and regroup; it's nonstop. You're trying to do one person, then you turn around and hear, 'You've got another code next door.'"
Given the circumstances that medical professionals everywhere are currently facing, here are a few things you can do to help out in this unprecedented time.
First and foremost, stay at home whenever possible, at least through April 30 in the U.S. If you do have to go out, which should only be for essentials, maintain a distance of at least six feet from everyone not in your immediate household. As Dr. R. Sean Morrison, who works in New York's Mount Sinai Hosptial, not doing so "makes us all nuts."
Help Facilities Acquire Supplies
One of the major problems hospitals have been facing is the lack of PPE, or personal protective equipment. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to help. Both Fundly and GoFundMe have hubs set up aimed squarely at coronavirus relief, as to The Center for Disease Philanthropy and Direct Relief. If you own a business that happens to have extra face masks, contact a local hospital for information on how to donate those supplies to those in need.
Help Make Equipment
Anyone who knows their way around a needle and thread is encouraged to use their free time to sew masks for medical personnel. Granted, cloth masks aren't quite as effective as an N95 face mask, they will be used if that's all that's available. The website Joann is currently in the process of starting a community to collectively donate 100 million homemade masks, with over 40 million already donated. The also offer a number of patterns and tutorials.
Additionally, anyone with a 3-D printer are being similarly encouraged to print out equipment that could be utilized on the front lines, based on open-source patterns here.
A quintessential good deed in the face of any disaster, medical or otherwise, is to donate blood as often as possible. The Times had previously reported that the FDA has even loosened its restrictions on who's allowed to donate, which indicates how dire the situation is. To find a place to give near you, you can check America's Blood Centers website here.
Donate Your Home
The short-term rental platform Airbnb has given its hosts an option to open up their listings to first-responders. Hosts can decide whether the rental will be at regular price, a discount or free, though Airbnb is waiving all of its fees in the process. Given the circumstances, the offer only applies to standalone home rentals and not individual rooms.
Show Your Gratitude
"I walk to work in scrubs," Hewett told the Times. "I've heard it, I don't know how many times, people tell me, 'Thank you, thank you.' It's so cool, it's just lovely. It justifies what I do."