What we can all do to support frontline Health Doers
Flattening the curve requires sacrifice, and no one knows that better than frontline Health Doers. But we can all support their work. No matter who you are and what you do, you have a role to play.
We can only reduce the spread of coronavirus if every individual does their part, and successful social distancing often depends on employment circumstances. Businesses and citizens are important parts of a larger system; during a pandemic, that system needs to be optimized to give Health Doers the best chance to help those in need.
If you’re a concerned citizen, you’re probably seeing your own personal actions — like going for a jog or ordering takeout — through a completely new lens. And if you’re running a company or managing employees, you’re probably rethinking everything you learned in business school. In addition to protecting their companies, employers also need to rethink their role in society. It’s the ultimate test of putting stakeholders ahead of shareholders. In the United States, businesses are expected to provide healthcare coverage to employees, and in our current crisis, society is also expecting businesses to ensure the health and safety of employees and customers — and their families.
The role of businesses
Looking after employees and customers
- The CDC shared a number of resources to help businesses respond to the pandemic, including interim guidance for businesses and employers, as well as fact sheets for airport custodial staff, bus operators, and train operators.
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration published advice for identifying and mitigating risks, and NYC Health shared guidance for business and non-health settings.
- The FDA’s website contains information regarding food safety, including guidance for staff in food retail and production. The World Health Organization also published information for food businesses.
Looking after the business
- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is collating resources to help businesses continue operations. The Chamber is also hosting a weekly webinar for small business owners.
- Industry associations also shared targeted guidance, including the National Retail Federation, the National Grocers Association, the Consumer Brands Association, and the National Association of Manufacturers.
- The U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship published a summary of the CARES Act, which allocated $350 billion to help businesses pay staff wages. Berkley Law also shared a summary and is offering to match law students with small businesses to help them navigate the legislation.
The role of citizens
Out and about
- There’s strong evidence that social distancing is working, and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation is revising its projections based on adherence to these protocols. The CDC shared advice on social distancing, quarantine, and isolation, and Ariadne Labs produced a guide on social distancing.
- The CDC published guidance on how to safely run essential errands — such as going to grocery stores or banks — and Slate interviewed several health professionals about the best practices for visiting supermarkets or ordering delivery.
- Guidance on exercise and social distancing is also emerging: The World Health Organization suggests it is safe to exercise outside while maintaining a six feet distance and hand hygiene. The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion shared a Q&A on staying active while social distancing.
- There are also lots of patterns and tips for homemade masks: MakerMask has several evidence-based mask designs; Providence St. Joseph Health shared a mask pattern and video tutorial; and the Emergency Design Collective published downloadable instructions.
- The internet is awash with tips on proper handwashing: the CDC released a video and step-by-step guide, the World Economic Forum summarized the evidence, and Johns Hopkins Medicine created an infographic for kids.
- In addition to handwashing, cleaning surfaces at home is also important: The CDC and the Cleveland Clinic published guidelines on how people can effectively clean and disinfect their houses. A study published in The Lancet found that the virus lasts longest — up to seven days — on plastic and stainless steel.
- COVID-19 is also taking a huge mental toll. The CDC released guidance for coping with stress, including advice for parents, seniors, and responders. The American Red Cross published tips for dealing with sheltering at home — these are available in English, Spanish, Simplified Chinese, and more. The Mayo Clinic published a thorough list of tips for managing mental health during this time. Mental Health America published a range of resources and is also hosting webinars on topics such as dealing with social isolation and maintaining wellness routines.
- Children are impacted by social distancing, quarantines, and school closures. The Brookings Institution shared strategies and activities for keeping kids healthy and happy; Child Trends shared tips on what families can do to help children cope with and adapt to changes due to COVID-19; and the National Association of School Psychologists created a similar guide, including tips on how to talk to children about COVID-19. Wired interviewed infectious disease experts on what parents should do if they get sick. The CDC outlines steps to take if you or a family member are sick: Most people with COVID-19 can recover at home without medical care; help responders assist those in need by knowing the emergency warning signs and only calling 911 if you have an emergency.
- Many families are also caring for elders. Johns Hopkins shared advice on caring for the elderly, Stat News published a Q&A on how to care for the elderly without putting them at risk, and the Alzheimer’s Association published guidance for caring for someone with dementia.
- Crisis Text Line provides anyone, in any type of crisis, access to confidential and free 24/7 support and information: Text to 741741 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.
Caring for your community
- Mutual aid groups are cropping up to support those in need: The C19 Help Squad is matching people who need or can give help; Mutual Aid NYC is tracking community groups, and a community-run spreadsheet is tracking local and national initiatives. There are also guides for setting up “neighborhood pods” and a template for a neighborhood signage system.
- Mon Ami is matching seniors to companions who can provide social calls or help with groceries and tech support. CovidHelper is matching low-risk COVID-19 demographics with nearby high-risk demographics who are unable to leave their homes and need help buying groceries or medicines.
- The New York Blood Center, Mount Sinai, Columbia University’s medical center are recruiting recovered COVID-19 patients to donate plasma for plasmapheresis treatments, and Michigan State is coordinating a national plasma donation effort. The American Red Cross is also calling for plasma donations from recovered COVID-19 patients.