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

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On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the coronavirus has become a pandemic. 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 all continents save Antarctica. In an effort to control the spread of the coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, millions of people have been made to practice social distancing, which has thrown the economy for a loop and resulted in millions of lost jobs.

The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has recommended that anyone with symptoms — which include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing — get in touch with their doctors immediately and isolate themselves at home until given further instruction. Even if you don't have symptoms, the CDC suggests avoiding gatherings with more than 10 people at a time in public or private places and keeping a six foot distance from others at all times.

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. Send Messages Of Support

Over 5 million people have been infected with COVID-19 across the world, and many people are still quarantined from families and friends. You can send people messages of support and love via social media so that they can see that positivity and hope is being sent their way.

You show your support for frontline workers, too. Thanks to Unilever's United for America campaign, you can send free virtual thank you notes to the essential Feeding America food bank employees and volunteers across the U.S.

2. 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.

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, Red Nose Day (the official date is May 21) has a campaign that kicks off on April 13. The organization sells red clown noses in Walgreens and Duane Reade stores nationally, and proceeds provide grants to support programs helping children in poverty get access to health care and education. You can also donate directly to Red Nose Day now.

4. Support Food Banks In Areas Affected By Coronavirus

Donating to food banks, like Food Bank NYC, Feeding America, or Meals on Wheels will ensure that senior citizens and low income families have the food they need to stay healthy and fed. In response to many children losing the school lunches they relied on, organizations like No Kid Hungry are giving grants to food banks and spreading resources directly to communities in need to ensure kids have three meals a day. Save the Children and No Kid Hungry have also partnered with Jennifer Garner and Amy Adams to create the #SAVEWITHSTORIES series, a Facebook and Instagram broadcast celebrity story time that provides educational entertainment for kids at home.

5. Buy Meals For Families In Need & Hospital Staff

Low-income families in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), can get reimbursed $50 for their groceries, thanks to a new initiative Expensify is spearheading. When you donate to Expensify, your money goes towards this fund. Families with SNAP cards can head to Expensify.org/hunger, SmartScan their grocery receipt, and then submit it to volunteer@expensify.org. After setting up a bank account to receive the funds, Expensify will reimburse them up to $50 per family (one time), the very next day.

On top of that, FoodtoEat, a woman-owned corporate catering concierge service, is focusing on buying low-cost meals from restaurants and giving them to people in need, including hospital staff. Typically, FoodtoEat partners with NYC restaurants owned by women, minorities, and immigrants to help book catering opportunities. Now, in response to the coronavirus pandemic, it's launched GoFundMe and iFundWomen campaigns. Your donations will go toward feeding people who are on the front lines of the crisis and/or food insecure.

6. Donate To Local Charities Dealing With Coronavirus

To help your community directly, localized groups like The Seattle Foundation in Seattle and Horizons for Youth in Chicago 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. You can use the search tool on sites like GoFundMe to find the right donation drive for you.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. Be Responsible & Help Prevent The Spread Of Coronavirus

One of the most important ways you can help people affected by COVID-19 is to do your part to control the spread of the outbreak. According to the CDC, the best way to protect yourself from COVID-19 is to practice social distancing (aka stay at least six feet away), avoid groups of more than 10 people, and stay home as much as possible. If you do go in public, wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds with an alcohol-based sanitizer soap, and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Additionally, showing up at a local hospital or clinic without notice could endanger other patients, so speak with your doctor on the phone beforehand and follow their directions. Many clinics and hospitals are doing curb-side coronavirus testing so that you don't even have to leave your car.

10. Give Blood During The Coronavirus Outbreak

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.

11. 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.

12. Help Service Industry Professionals Who Are Losing Their Jobs Because Of Coronavirus

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.

On March 17, the United States Bartenders' Guild (USBG) announced that it will be offering financial relief to bartenders who have lost their jobs or experienced a decrease in wages due to coronavirus-related closings. To apply for a relief grant, or donate funds, head to the COVID-19 Relief and Response webpage.

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.

13. Fund Domestic Workers' Paid Leave Amid The COVID-19 Pandemic

To support domestic workers, like nannies, housecleaners, in-home caretakers and aids, you can donate to the National Domestic Worker's Alliance. While some live-in domestic workers might be quarantined with the families they're employed by, other domestic workers are isolated from their employers and unable to work. The organization is providing domestic workers with paid leave so they can stay home, stay safe, and still get paid.

14. Support Small Businesses Struggling After Coronavirus Closures

Shopping in person might not be an option for a while, but you can still support small businesses online. In fact, Amazon Ring rolled out a Neighbor Pledge initiative that helps hold you to your word when it comes to supporting local businesses you love. Through Ring's Neighbor Pledge, you can create a pledge group that includes friends or coworkers, join an already existing group, or act individually. From there, simply set your pledge. "If you normally visit a neighborhood cafe every morning and spend $3, with the pledge you would give them up to $90 a month until they reopen," Ring explains on its site.

From there, it's up to you to act on that pledge. You can buy books from a local or independent bookstore who could really use the sale, order delivery from your favorite local restaurant or cafe, or buy gift certificates for later use if you're already stocked up. You can check out Ring's Neighborhood Pledge site for more ideas.

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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