We are now living in an unprecedented scary time and nerves are high from the frightening daily updates about the latest coronavirus outbreak.  It is now more important than ever to come together as a community to not only fight the virus and flatten the curve but to also help out others in need.  Some of you may be wondering how you can help out, but have no idea where to start. Here are five things that you can do right now to help out your community during the Coronavirus Pandemic.

1. Put your mask on before assisting others

Do you know how on airplanes, they tell you to put your oxygen masks on first before assisting others?  The same goes for right now. Before doing anything else, take precautions to protect yourself first from COVID-19.  Stay inside, and practice social distancing.  Social distancing (which should be called physical distancing), if you don’t know, is the conscious group effort to reduce close contact between people to hopefully stop community transmission of the virus.  By staying home, you are not putting others at risk, and protecting those in high-risk populations. Ultimately, social distancing will help flatten the curve. Here is a simulator that shows you how we can flatten the curve.  

2. Avoid gathering in public places

 Ideally, you should be six feet away from your neighbor.  Remember to also disinfect places around you that people are always touching.  I know that I will be disinfecting door knobs and all the surfaces in my home.  Governor J.B. Pritzker had issued a stay at home ban starting March 21st. Unless you must run necessary errands, try to respect this ban as much as possible — and stay inside.   

This also means that you should limit in-person visitation to people who are in assisted-living facilities and nursing homes.  While it may upset you that you cannot be with your mother or grandmother during this time, by visiting her in person, you would actually be putting her at a higher risk of catching the coronavirus.  So try visiting your loved ones virtually – through FaceTime or Skype – so that you can say hello without putting them at extra risk. 
And most importantly, wash your hands regularly.  Sing happy birthday to yourself twice, if it helps you remember to do a thorough clean.

3. Support local businesses

Governor J. B. Pritzker had ordered that all bars and restaurants must be closed to dine-in customers from March 16th to March 30thYour local mom and pop shops will be feeling the blow from this ban. While dining in the restaurant is not an option for the time being, you will still be able to order for take-out.  Some restaurants now even offer curbside pickup! If you can, order takeout and support your restaurants. If you are in the position to, remember to tip well.  But if you feel that it is unwise to go in person to order takeout, purchase gift cards for the restaurants to use at a later date when the ban has been lifted.  This helps the restaurants because it gives them cash to use right now during this difficult time.  And you’ll have a gift card to treat yourself or your significant other to a wonderful dinner in the future!

4.  Foster a dog or a cat

If you feel that you and your children will go stir crazy from having to stay inside, foster a pet!  Now is the perfect time to foster a dog or cat so that you can teach your kids what it is really like to have a dog or a cat!  Animal Care and Control, as well as the many adoption and rescue centers, are always overflowing with pets who need a home.  Having a foster pet will not only help you pass the time, but it will also help with your stress and anxiety levels during this difficult time.
Here are some recommended places to look for a foster pet: Second City Canine Rescue, PAWS Chicago, K9 for Keeps, Safe Humane, and Chicago Canine Rescue, among many others.  If you would like more information on helping out with emergency relief fosters, click here.  Click here if you would like to sign up to foster!

5. Take care of the elderly and those in need

If you are young and in the low-risk population, offer to help out those in the high-risk populations.  Reach out to elderly people in your community or someone who is immunocompromised, and offer to go grocery shopping for them and run errands for them.  It will be much safer for you to walk about than for them to leave the house. 

Also, if you have extra resources, try to reach out to families with children that are in need that may need help with lunch, now that schools are closed.  Any way that you can offer assistance and support to your community will be greatly appreciated in this trying time

6. Join your local Facebook group

Now, for South Loop, there is a Facebook group called “Hello, South Loop!”.  These Facebook groups are wonderful because it allows you to stay in touch with your community.  Oftentimes, moms will post on there and ask if there is someone willing to watch her kids at a short notice.  Others will post that they are immunocompromised and need help running errands. By joining this group, it gives you the opportunity to help out your community when you can, and interact with others who live close to youStaying in touch with your community will provide many opportunities to offer a lending hand when you can, especially during the unprecedented Coronavirus pandemic in our lifetime.

We are in this together as we work through the Coronavirus Pandemic

While this is an extremely stressful situation for many, if we look on the bright side of things, you may become more in touch with your community now more than ever.  Just keep telling yourself – this too shall pass. In the meantime, try to keep yourself as healthy as possible and show compassion to businesses and people around you.  Whenever you can, lend a helping hand and heart virtually or physically. I am here to provide support to my south loop community in any way I can.  If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out.  I would love to help out in any way I know-how.  Stay strong; we are in this together.  If you have any specific COVID-19 questions, be sure to check out the CDC’s website.

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