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Opinion

Editorial: What you can do to help ease the coronavirus suffering

Pat and Bob McCauley, quarantined at their home in Kirkland, Wash.
Cheri Chandler drops off disinfectants, throat lozenges and ginger ale for her parents, Pat and Bob McCauley, who are self-quarantined at their home in Kirkland, Wash., on March 10, 2020.
(Karen Ducey)

The coronavirus outbreak may have you feeling scared, frustrated and powerless. In stressful times, there’s a tendency to panic and, say, buy up all the pasta and bottled water. But we’re all in this together, and it’s far better for all involved if we choose to help our fellow humans rather than rip the last roll of toilet paper from their hands. There are many ways to do so. Here are a few ideas:

Continue to pay your house cleaner, dog walker, personal trainer and the rest of the people whose services make your life a little easier, even if you don’t use them for a few weeks. Why? Because many of these folks are self-employed, and they lack the support systems that others of us may have. If they don’t work, they don’t get paid. But they still have to pay the bills.

Check on your elderly neighbors. Gov. Newsom directed older adults and people with underlying health problems to stay home, except for essential trips. But all that isolation can be lonely, and it can leave people without enough food or supplies. If you’re healthy and able, consider doing grocery shopping or running errands for your elderly neighbors or friends. You don’t even have to — and perhaps shouldn’t — come into direct contact with them; you can drop off their groceries on the doorstep or chat by phone. The point is to let people know you’re available to help.

Order takeout from your local restaurant. Operating a restaurant is already a tough business; the profit margins can be slim and the competition fierce. The governor’s call for restaurants to suspend dine-in service could be the death knell for some mom-and-pop establishments. But it doesn’t have to be. Restaurants are still allowed to offer takeout, curbside pickup and delivery service. And, really, wouldn’t it be better to order Thai food than brave the grocery store lines? Some restaurants sell gift cards that you could buy now to give them cash immediately, then enjoy a dine-in meal when the emergency has passed.

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Donate blood. If you’re healthy and an eligible donor, healthcare providers could use your blood right now. The Red Cross is facing a shortage after more than 160 blood drives in Southern California were canceled as a result of school, church and workplace closures. Blood donation centers have enacted protocols to reduce the risk of exposure or spreading the coronavirus.

Contribute money, food or supplies to your local food bank — if you’ve got some to spare — or volunteer for food deliveries. This is especially important now as food banks and delivery services may be a lifeline for the elderly and infirm.

Of course, the nicest thing you can do is to avoid spreading the coronavirus. Stay home, except for essential trips and goodwill measures. And when you do go out, practice social distancing and give an extra thanks to grocery workers, mail carriers and delivery drivers, doctors and nurses, first responders and all the other men and women helping to get us through the pandemic.


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