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.

7 Quick Tips for Disinfecting Your Home the Smart Way

Frequent cleaning of high-traffic areas can reduce the spread of illness in your home.
Frequent cleaning of high-traffic areas can reduce the spread of illness in your home.
BrianAJackson/iStock via Getty Images

With many people spending more time—or virtually all of their time—indoors, it’s natural for thoughts to turn to how to best clean surfaces that might help minimize the risk of spreading illness. Although researchers believe respiratory droplets are the primary way coronavirus is transmitted, preliminary data, which is not yet peer-reviewed, suggests the virus may remain on some surfaces for hours or days.

While scrubbing isn't a complex process, there are nonetheless some areas of your home you might be neglecting. Here’s how to best approach a household scrub, as well as identify and disinfect some common germ hot spots.

1. Pay attention to high-touch surfaces and clean them frequently.

High-touch surfaces are exactly what they sound like: Areas in the home that get handled and touched regularly. Think doorknobs, light switches, appliance handles, toilet handles, faucets, and remotes. And don’t forget laptops, keyboards, desks, and phones.

2. Don't just do a quick wipe down. Get the entire surface.

Taking a disinfecting wipe to the keyhole of a doorknob isn’t going to do you much good—it's important to really scrub all high-touch surfaces. Make sure you get every available surface area, including the plate behind the knob where fingers and hands often brush against it. When cleaning remotes, make sure you don't just scrub the buttons, but the space between them as well.

3. You can use soap and water.

While products claiming to kill 99.9 percent of germs are best in this scenario, there's another option if you're having a hard time tracking down those supplies—simply mix some dish soap in water. It won’t kill organisms, but it can remove them from the surface. (And while soap and water can work for high-touch surfaces throughout the home, you shouldn't use the solution on electronics like your remote or keyboard.)

If you’re looking to kill germs, diluted bleach (four teaspoons to one quart of water) and 70 percent alcohol solutions work well. But it's important to note that bleach and other cleaners can harm certain surfaces. So be sure to do your research and make sure the product you're using won't cause any damage before you start scrubbing.

4. Take laundry precautions.

If you’re trying to be extra-vigilant about the spread of germs in the house, you should consider washing clothes at the highest possible temperature and disinfecting laundry bins. It’s also advisable to use disposable laundry bags.

5. Remove your shoes before entering the house.

This step is more preventative, but it’s a simple way to keep from tracking in contaminants. Remove your shoes before going inside and leave them near the door. It's also a good idea to clean floor surfaces with disinfecting mop cloths, but be sure anything you use is safe for the finished surface. Cleaners like bleach can discolor certain materials.

6. Don't forget to clean your car.

Even people vigilant about cleaning their home can neglect their car interior. Since you’re constantly touching virtually every surface, be sure to wipe everything down regularly, including the steering wheel and door handles. If you have a leather interior, there are auto wipes available for those surfaces. And before you go wipe down any touchscreens, be sure to check your owner’s manual to see if they require any special microfiber cloth.

7. Give your debit cards a wipe.

It’s a good idea to disinfect credit or debit cards that follow you around on shopping excursions. As with all high-touch objects, be sure to wipe them down every day.

[h/t New York Times]

The World Health Organization Is Releasing a COVID-19 App to Combat Coronavirus Misinformation

WHO MyHealth is meant to help clear up misinformation surrounding the novel coronavirus.
WHO MyHealth is meant to help clear up misinformation surrounding the novel coronavirus.
MangoStar_Studio/iStock via Getty Images

As is the case with most crises, the novel coronavirus has become a breeding ground for misinformation. Because the disease is so new, there are a lot of unanswered questions surrounding it, but that hasn't stopped people from claiming to know how to treat, prevent, and detect COVID-19. In an effort to separate fact from fiction, the World Health Organization (WHO) is launching an app dedicated to sharing what we know and don't know about the virus, 9to5Google reports.

Named WHO MyHealth, the new app is a collaboration between former Google and Microsoft employees, WHO advisors and ambassadors, and other tech and health experts. Users will be able to compare their symptoms with those linked to COVID-19 and receive public health updates specific to their location. As of now, there are plans to invite people who have been either been diagnosed with or exposed to COVID-19 to share their phone's location history to give experts a better idea of how the virus spreads.

WHO MyHealth, which is currently being built as open source, is set to roll out for Android and iOS on Monday, March 30. If you have questions about COVID-19 you need answered immediately, you can also access accurate and up-to-date information through the WHO's chatbot.

Any information regarding novel coronavirus should be met with skepticism when it can't be traced back to organizations like the WHO or the CDC—especially when it comes to supposed cures. No specific medication has been proven to treat or prevent COVID-19, so you shouldn't take advice from anyone claiming otherwise.

[h/t 9to5Google]