The novel coronavirus was first detected in Wuhan, China, in 2019. (Photo Courtesy/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS)

As communities grapple with how to prepare for the further spread of the coronavirus, there are many ways to assist those who need it most. The Red & Black has compiled a list of ways to help the community during the coming weeks. The list is not comprehensive, but is a good place to start when considering how to help during the coronavirus pandemic.

Run errands for elderly or immunocompromised neighbors

Grocery stores are a strange, overwhelming place at this point during the pandemic. Stores can be even more stressful for the elderly or immunocompromised. Offering to buy groceries or run errands for elderly or immunocompromised neighbors can keep them away from potentially dangerous crowds. By helping them stock up on essentials they need, you can help them avoid going out in public as the virus spreads.

Donate time, money or goods to food programs

Food hardship is one impact of schools and businesses closing for the pandemic. Though Clarke County public school students can still receive school breakfasts and lunches during the shutdown, other children and those out of work because of the outbreak may also need additional help in the coming weeks. Volunteering time, money or goods to local food banks, churches and shelters can help those in need of assistance. Local food banks in Athens include the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia, which has extended its volunteer hours to five days a week, and the Athens Area Emergency Food Bank.

Donate blood

Blood donations have slowed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic as a result of canceled blood drives, according to Reuters. In spite of the increasing cancellations, the American Red Cross has stated there is now an urgent need for blood donations due to the outbreak. In its 2020 media statement on COVID-19, the Red Cross said there is no data or evidence showing “COVID-19 can be transmitted by blood transfusion, and there have been no reported cases of transmissions for coronavirus worldwide” as of March 6.

There are guidelines against donating blood for travelers who have visited China, Iran, Italy and South Korea and those who have spent time around someone diagnosed with COVID-19, but donating blood is something to consider for those wanting to help with the outbreak. You can make an appointment at the Athens American Red Cross, or at a blood donation center near you.

Offer to babysit

With many public school districts canceling school for the next two weeks, and some for an indefinite period, many working parents might be scrambling to find childcare. Offering to babysit for a low cost, or for free if you have the means to do so, can help parents find time to prepare a long term childcare solution.

Communicate with others

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends travelers returning home from countries with a level 3 non-essential travel alert and those who have had exposure to the virus to self-quarantine for 14 days. In the Internet age, staying in touch with the isolated is possible. Call or text those in quarantine to keep them company — playing online games or remotely watching a new series together can help them avoid getting a case of cabin fever.

Let roommates or friends borrow technology

As colleges and public schools across the country transition to online-based or distance learning, some students might not have the technology or internet access to complete assignments. A number of technology companies are helping to maintain learning continuity, including Comcast, which is offering free Xfinity WiFi access, and Adobe, which will provide temporary at-home access to its Creative Cloud for schools with lab access for students.

Despite this, some students may have to count on unreliable technology to do their school work. If you know of any students worried about using faulty laptops or buggy computers for schoolwork, you can let them borrow your technology for a few hours to let them catch up on assignments. It is also a good idea to clean keyboards and touch screens on devices, especially if they are being shared.

Be courteous and mindful

Basic mindfulness and courtesy play a big part in how communities can combat the coronavirus outbreak. By avoiding large crowds and staying home if you’re sick, the healthy and able-bodied can significantly reduce the risk of causing harm to others. Call relatives or neighbors to check on them, and be courteous of others in supermarkets or workplaces. Avoid spreading misinformation online. During a time when feeds seem to constantly refresh with virus updates, remind yourself it’s okay to unplug and destress.

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