The current COVID-19 health emergency and situation has us all on edge. Often in times of crisis, people step up and want to give back. This is especially true for those who are healthy and able. And while it may not seem to create an immediate change in the larger situation, small actions can make a difference to individuals, create a ground swell of kindness, and give us hope. And while it is imperative that we, while at the same time, follow strict health guidelines on physical distancing and infection prevention, we can, in fact, still connect socially.
We were pleased to see OHSU distinguish between social and physical distancing this week:
“OHSU is following the World Health Organization’s lead and using the term physical distancing instead of social distancing. Physical distancing allows you to strengthen social ties while keeping a physical distance. We all need to do our part to slow the spread of COVID-19, but you don’t have to stop being social. Phone calls, video chats and even writing letters can add a social component that can help people feel connected.”
As we move into the weekend, here are some tips to give back, help others, and perhaps bring a smile to someone very much in need of one.
- THANK HEALTH CARE WORKERS: Send thanks to those working tirelessly in healthcare settings, while recognizing the impacts to them from exhaustion and exposure risks, leading to personal sacrifices. Avoid excess calls or visits to hospital and clinics by utilizing Telemedicine. Offer assistance to health care workers you know personally. Support initiatives and legislation to provide adequate protective equipment and improve working conditions. See 20 Ways to Support Nurses and Healthcare Workers on the Front Lines of COVID-19.
- PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT DONATIONS: If you are aware of supplies of approved personal protective equipment that can be donated to healthcare workers, contact Oregon Emergency Management System. Some hospitals have shared specific contact information on their websites for this donation as well, but we advise you not to call around within hospital systems to protect the time of healthcare staff. While many people have been excited about making hand made masks, at this time we advise you to ensure you have specific directions from a local source as most hospitals do not recognize these as approved personal protective equipment.
- VOLUNTEER AS A LICENSED HEALTH PROFESSIONAL: Oregon licensed healthcare professionals looking to volunteer in the fight against COVID-19 must register for an account and join the State Managed Volunteer Pool and your local Medical Reserve Corps Unit. Volunteer for SERV-OR.
- VOLUNTEER OR DONATE TO OREGON FOOD BANK: Through a mix of supplemental food programs, traditional food pantries and congregate meal sites, Oregon Food Bank provides people with access to the type of food assistance they need. OFB has retooled operations to account for social distancing to the extent possible. Oregon Food Bank volunteer and donation opportunities.
- VOLUNTEER OR DONATE TO MEALS ON WHEELS: Meals on Wheels People has been meeting the social and nutritional needs of older adults in our community. Volunteer or donate to Meals on Wheels.
- LOOK OUT FOR NEIGHBORS AND FRIENDS WHO ARE ELDERLY OR HAVE SPECIAL NEEDS: Offer to pick up groceries or other supplies when you are out for those who are more vulnerable. Check in to help maintain social connections and inquire about other needs.
- MAKE VIRTUAL CONNECTIONS WITH THOSE YOU LOVE AND OTHERS WHO MAY BE FEELING ALONE: Looking for ideas on connecting with others? See this recent Oregon Live article, and this article on How to have a virtual dinner. While it isn’t the same as being together physically, today’s video calls and conferencing help us feel socially connected. Reach out to others who may need help (from a distance) in understanding how to make virtual platforms work.
- SUPPORT LOCAL BUSINESSES: Support local businesses, such as take out and delivery of food provided by local restaurants, and bookstore deliveries, while still practicing physical distancing. Find participating businesses through your local chamber. See Multnomah County’s COVID-19 Guidance for Restaurants and Food Service.
- BUSINESS-RELATED SUPPORT: Looking for support for your business or to help others? See this information on Resources for Businesses in the Greater Portland Area, as related to COVID-19 challenges.
- RESOURCES RELATED TO LOSS OF BUSINESS OR EMPLOYMENT: The State of Oregon Employment Department has information related to unemployment insurance benefits and COVID-19 work precautions on this webpage specific to COVID-19.
Do you have other ideas? We encourage you to share them in the comments below.
In the meantime, let us know if there are issues that our scientists and staff might be helpful with as we together move through this challenging time. We urge you to follow safe physical distancing, and take measures to support your own well-being and that of others.
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