Here’s How You Can Help People Affected By The Coronavirus

This post is updated regularly to reflect the latest news and science around coronavirus, also known as COVID-19.

On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the coronavirus has become a pandemic, and while protecting your own health should be top priority, lots of people and organizations could use some extra support as well. If you’d like to help people affected by the coronavirus, you can consider donating, volunteering, or even sending positive messages.

The coronavirus has been found in at least 143 countries and territories, but the largest concentration of the outbreak remains in its origin country, China. In an effort to control COVID-19, Wuhan residents were the first to go under quarantine, which has limited their ability to get fresh food and resources on their own. Since then, the CDC has recommended that anyone with symptoms — which include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing — isolate themselves.

Here’s a list of organizations that are currently accepting help during the coronavirus outbreak, along with other ways you can make a difference:

1. Prevent Coronavirus Misinformation

When a global crisis is occurring, and there’s a constant flow of information being broadcast and embedded in our awareness, it’s easy to take in false or misleading information, accidentally. If we’re not diligent about staying up-to-date with factual reporting, or we rely on unofficial sources, we risk spreading not only inaccurate information, but also promoting xenophobic mentalities. The New York Times has a live update vertical for COVID-19 information that you can check regularly for reliable and accurate information and CNN is providing live coverage of COVID-19 news, in addition to a daily summary report.

Part of responsibly portraying information is to avoid behaviors that promote unnecessary precautions fear-mongering behaviors. Currently, the U.S. is not in a state of emergency, so wearing face masks in public not only sends a message of unnecessary fear, but also uses up a valuable resource that’s needed by people who work with people who are sick which could be better valued in China. What’s more, there’s currently a face mask shortage, and the CDC continues to stand by the fact that wearing a face mask really won’t do anything unless you’re a doctor, interacting with potentially sick patients.

2. Send Messages Of Support To People Under Coronavirus Quarantine

Nearly 50 million people either infected with COVID-19 or in danger of becoming infected are on lock down, quarantined from their families and friends. You can send these people messages of support and love via social media so that they can see that positivity and hope is being sent their way. According to the BBC, "Stay strong Wuhan!" or "Keep on going Wuhan" are phrases that are being cheered locally.

3. Give To A Group That Supports Public Health & Fights Coronavirus

When an outbreak occurs, it’s the public health organizations that are able to contribute resources and finances to the right places most efficiently. Because we don’t yet know the extent of the toll or have an idea of how resources can be most efficiently utilized, not all organizations in the U.S. are coordinating dedicated relief. Donating to trusted organizations like CDC Foundation, The Public Health Institution, or Save the Children will help them support the cause in whatever way they see fit.

Additionally, localized groups like The Seattle Foundation are raising funds for relief grants that regional organizations devastated by coronavirus can apply for. Keep a lookout for local charity drives that will give your community resources to recover, too.

4. Donate To An Organization Sending Supplies To Coronavirus Victims

Brother’s Brother Foundation is sending shipments of emergency relief to China and you can ensure that your donation goes to China efforts by selecting the country in the drop down menu when you make a donation. Meanwhile, International Medical Corps is upgrading its equipment, training, and disease surveillance operations with the help of your emergency donations. Americares, a relief and development organization, is similarly taking donations to help deliver protective masks and infectious disease control supplies. On top of that, it works to train health care facilities on how to best handle sick patients during this time. With the help of donations, projectHOPE is also sending coveralls, masks, and other protective apparel to Wuhan, China.

5. Help The Animals Being Abandoned Because Of Coronavirus Fears

The combination of sick and quarantined pet owners has created a stray animal crisis in Wuhan, China with thousands of pets in grave conditions or facing death. Shelters and individual volunteers are having trouble accommodating all of the dogs and cats who have gone hungry or been left on the streets, and are desperate for resources. Some volunteers who have opened up their homes to help the pets are now opening up PayPal channels for donations to help feed and home the dogs and cats that are in need. Or, you can buy a mug with the animal charity’s logo, and proceeds will go directly towards resources for pets in Wuhan, China affected by coronavirus.

6. Be Responsible & Help Prevent The Spread Of Coronavirus

One of the most important ways to help the people affected by COVID-19 is to do your part to control the spread of the outbreak. The more people that are affected, the less resources there are to go around. Maintaining your own health is one of the most responsible things you can do. According to the CDC, the best way to defend yourself from getting sick from COVID-19 is to wash your hands regularly (especially after being in public places) for at least 20 seconds with an alcohol-based sanitizer soap, to stay home if you’re feeling run down, and to avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. If you’ve recently traveled to China and believe you might be sick with the COVID-19, call a doctor immediately and do not touch or interact with others until you’re given instructions on the best way to be seen. Showing up at a local hospital or clinic could endanger other patients, so speak with your doctor on the phone and follow their directions.

7. Give Blood

In a March 11 press release, The Red Cross stated that it is in dire need of blood and platelet donations from healthy, eligible individuals to prevent shortages due to canceled blood drives (thousands of drives have been called off because of coronavirus). To find a blood drive near you, head to The Red Cross’ drive page and enter your zip code.

If you do become symptomatic, remember that people in the U.S. are exponentially more likely to be sick with the seasonal flu or common cold, which both have very similar symptoms to COVID-19 infection. So stay up to date with information, follow protocol, and call your doctor if you’re feeling sick, just to be safe.

8. Support The COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund

The WHO, the UN Foundation, and other partners have launched a fund to directly support the work of the WHO. Funds will help all countries (especially those most vulnerable) to prepare for and respond to the coronavirus crisis. Private individuals, institutions and corporations can all donate to this fund. You can make a tax-deductible donation of any amount on the COVID-19 Response Fund website.

9. Support Service Industry Professionals

While many corporate and freelance employees have the ability to self-isolate and work from home, service industry professionals can’t take their work with them. Now, due to temporary restaurant closings and shift cuts, even more restaurant workers are facing dire financial strains. Consider donating to a verified fundraiser for local restaurant workers near you, like the DMV Restaurant Worker Relief Fund, the Michigan Restaurant Worker Relief Fund, or the national Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation (RWCF) COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund.

Additionally, Grubhub is matching proceeds from its Donate the Change program and giving them to the Grubhub Community Relief Fund. If you choose to round up your food bill through the program, Grubhub uses the change to support restaurant workers and drivers during the coronavirus outbreak.

If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all Bustle’s coverage of coronavirus here.

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