Coronavirus: 7 Ways You Can Help Your Community

Daisy-Daisy/iStock via Getty Images
Daisy-Daisy/iStock via Getty Images

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. currently stands at more than 3000, with people in at least 47 states (including Washington, D.C.) harboring the disease. That number is significantly lower than rates in countries that have been hit the hardest by COVID-19, but according to experts, the pandemic has not yet peaked in America.

"I can say we will see more cases, and things will get worse than they are right now," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said at a House of Representatives hearing last week.

The easiest and most direct way to help your community at this time is to avoid contracting the disease and spreading it to others. That means washing your hands regularly and properly, practicing social distancing, staying home and away from other people if you're feeling sick or exhibiting any symptoms, and following all protocols being set by your local government. If you're looking for more ways to do good beyond those precautions, you can support one of the many charities helping people whose lives have been disrupted by coronavirus. Whether you want to volunteer or donate, here are some opportunities to consider.

1. Donate to GlobalGiving's Coronavirus Relief Fund.

As coronavirus has swept the globe, medical care providers have struggled to keep up with the needs of the growing number of sick patients. This relief fund organized by the charity crowdfunding platform GlobalGiving is aiming to raise $5 million for communities that have been impacted by the virus. The money will go toward providing healthcare, food, and water to the places that need it most around the world. As the situation progresses, donations will fund longer-term education and recovery efforts. So far, nearly 1500 people have donated just over $278,000.

2. Volunteer at your local food bank.

Experts recommend that people prepare for a possible coronavirus quarantine by stocking up on pantry items—something that not everyone is in a financial position to do. Texas's Houston Food Bank is currently preparing for an increased demand for nonperishable goods by packaging quarantine meal kits, and they recently called on volunteers to help. You can reach out to the food bank in your neighborhood to see if they have plans to do something similar.

3. Donate to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy's COVID-19 Response Fund.

Even if they haven't been infected, many people's lives have been disrupted by the threat of coronavirus. Canceled events and closed businesses have led to many people losing work at a time when being able to afford healthcare and basic necessities is especially crucial. The Center for Disaster Philanthropy's COVID-19 Response Fund assists local nonprofits supporting people who are financially vulnerable at this time, including gig workers, hourly wage workers, immigrants, and people with disabilities. Based on where the highest needs are, donations may also be used to promote proper hygiene, support healthcare workers, and assist people in quarantine.

4. Donate blood to the American Red Cross.

As social distancing becomes the norm, the American Red Cross has had to cancel more than 1500 blood drives nationwide due to concern over gatherings and the risk of transmission of the viral illness. That means that the country's blood supply could be in danger at a time when we need it the most. While no data exists to indicate that COVID-19 can be transmitted via blood transfusion, the organization is taking every precaution to minimize the risk of contracting the virus during the donation process. In addition to enhanced disinfecting protocols at donation sites, prospective donors are being screened for symptoms of possible illness, including temperature checks, before being allowed into a collection area. And all donations are being made via direct appointment. If you’d like to donate, you can enter your ZIP code at the Red Cross website to find a local donation center.

5. Donate to the Seattle Foundation's COVID-19 Response Fund.

Washington state was one of the first areas to see a major coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., with the majority of American deaths from the virus happening there. The Seattle Foundation's COVID-19 Response Fund was set up specifically to support communities in the greater Puget Sound region. Donations will be used to fund grants for organizations working with people both physically and economically impacted by the virus. The grantees have not yet been announced, but the foundation plans to work with United Way of King County and King County’s Pandemic Community Advisory Group to identify the most deserving recipients.

6. Volunteer for Meals on Wheels.

Meals on Wheels provides ready-to-eat food to homebound seniors. Older people are particularly vulnerable to coronavirus, and as leaving their homes becomes more dangerous, the demand for this service has skyrocketed. The organization relies on volunteers to put meal packages together as well as to deliver them. Contact your local branch to see if they need an extra hand, or if you'd rather help from home, you can make a donation.

7. Buy a gift certificate.

Due to mandated business closures across the country, the livelihoods of many small business owners and their employees are being put at risk as long as restaurants, shops, hair salons, and the like are being forced to close their doors. One simple way to continue showing your patronage is to purchase a gift certificate to be used at a later date.

Mental Floss's Three-Day Sale Includes Deals on Apple AirPods, Sony Wireless Headphones, and More


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Martha Stewart

If you’re thinking of taking the plunge and buying a new pressure cooker, this 8-quart model from Martha Stewart comes with 14 presets, a wire rack, a spoon, and a rice measuring cup to make delicious dinners using just one appliance.

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Prices subject to change.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. If you haven't received your voucher or have a question about your order, contact the Mental Floss shop here.

Just How Clean Is the Air On an Airplane?

Air quality in airplane cabins has become a growing concern during the coronavirus pandemic.
Air quality in airplane cabins has become a growing concern during the coronavirus pandemic.
Leylanr/iStock via Getty Images

For millions of Americans and millions more abroad, the excitement of booking a flight has turned into concern. Being stuffed into an airplane cabin with hundreds of other people for hours at a time seems like a risk in light of the coronavirus continuing to be a threat to public health.

According to experts, plane travel is indeed a risk, and much of that risk has to do with social proximity. But the air itself might be cleaner than you think.

In a piece for Condé Nast Traveler, author William J. McGee writes that many airplanes have highly effective air cleaning systems that use high-efficiency particulate air, or HEPA, filtration to remove 99.97 percent of airborne contaminants, including viruses. (But not all. Some regional airlines may not have HEPA devices.) The clean air is pumped in through the ceiling and leaves below the window seats. The air is roughly 60 percent fresh and 40 percent filtered and recirculated constantly.

Would this impact how coronavirus or other germs may spread? Theoretically, yes. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other health organizations caution that no air filtration system can make up for being seated within a few feet of an infected person. It’s entirely possible that their germs will make their way to you before the circulating air removes them. And filtration isn’t a factor when travelers are standing near each other in line to board the aircraft.

Viruses aren’t the only air quality concern onboard a plane. Fumes from engine oil, hydraulic fluid, exhaust, and other sources can travel into the cabin. Pesticide applications may also leave a lingering odor.

The bottom line? If you have to be stuck in an enclosed space with several strangers, an airplane cabin might be the safest way to go about it. But variables like infected passengers, mask habits, and proximity make it impossible for anyone to offer assurances about safety. If you have a desire or need to fly, wearing a mask and keeping as much distance as possible between yourself and other passengers is the best way to approach it.

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