Help Healthcare Practicioners, First Responders, Displaced Workers, Small Businesses During COVID-19

It’s a rough time. It’s OK to be really freaked out. Or frustrated, or sad, or annoyed. There’s no normal way to feel in a situation this abnormal.

If you have abruptly lost your livelihood: I’m so sorry. Contact me. I’ll try to help.

If you’re just anxious and stir-crazy at home, here are concrete things you can do to combat COVID-19 and support those affected. Please help. You have a chance to literally save lives. And heck, you can even score some awesome video games by helping.

  1. If you have an unopened container of N95 masks and aren’t sick or immunocompromised, please, please contact local EMTs, firefighters, clinics, hospitals, or other people on the front lines and donate them. There is a dire shortage of N95 masks that has put people at risk of dying. If you’re hiding in your house, give masks to those who can’t hide.

How to get personal protective equipment where it needs to go

  1. Mask Match connects practicioners with N95 masks;
  2. Find the Masks lists places seeking PPE, filterable by state and accepted items;
  3. connects healthcare organizations that need PPE with people who have it. Filterable by state and accepted items. It also seems to have centralized various other efforts.
  4. Masks For Docs. They’re less transparent about who’s behind it than the other orgs; work with one of the others preferentially.
  5. #GetMePPE and #GetUsPPE tags on Twitter are a good place to seek help and helpers.
  6. Resources for specific countries:
  7. A Facebook group for organizations seeking handmade face masks

How to make personal protective equipment (or emergency medical equipment)

  1. Sew masks:
  2. Print face shields with a 3D printer:
  3. Laser cut a face shield. Designed to be equivalent to one of the NIH-approved shields.
  4. Sew an isolation gown. We need gowns too.
  5. Sew a surgical cap.
  6. Manufacture ventilators if you have a factory. Medtronic ventilator schematics.

PPE of Last Resort

If you’re in a situation where there’s no way to secure real PPE– supply chain issues, lacking necessary resources (money or materials or equipment)– here are some desperation measures you can take to build PPE that’s better than nothing. Please, please exhaust every other means of getting PPE before even considering any of these.

  1. Ventilators. If we run out of ventilators, this is probably our best bet for building emergency ones. As you can see from the analyses, it’s not a great bet, but it’s better than nothing.
  2. Shields. If you have a two-liter plastic bottle, you can improvise a last-resort face shield out of it.
  3. Masks.
    • If you have salt and carbonated water and a napkin, you can make a last-resort filter for a mask.
    • If you have aluminum foil, dishwasher detergent, wood glue, newspapers, paper, rubber, and whatever “clear paper” is, you can make this last-resort mask.

How to contribute valuable information

  1. Working or living on the front lines of COVID-19? Help ProPublica report. If you’re unfamiliar, they’re a nonprofit investigative journalism publication whose metric of success if whether they’ve helped change negative outcomes.
  2. Had trouble getting a COVID-19 test, even with symptoms? Report it here.
  3. Add local mutual aid organizations to Mutual Aid Hub so people can easily find local ways to help.
  4. Contribute voice samples, whether you’re healthy or sick, to an AI project that tries to identify whether you’re likely infected by how your voice sounds.
  5. Having a hard time with mental health during quarantine? NPR wants to know about it.

How to help people whose livelihoods have been threatened by COVID-19:

  1. Donate to targeted funds or directly:
  2. Here’s a useful tool showing who’s freezing hiring right now and who’s still hiring.
  3. Contribute your labor to small businesses. Thus far I’ve helped two different businesses set up gift cards and am maintaining their websites during my evening hours.
  4. In general: if you like a business and can afford it, buy a gift card. That way you help keep businesses afloat that depend on foot traffic or, you know, not-apocalypse, and you don’t put anyone at extra risk of COVID-19. Consider this especially for service businesses that 100% cannot be done without in-person contact: massage therapists, hair salons, businesses that sell only at farmers’ markets, etc.
    • Many small ethical businesses are running major discounts on gift cards right now, including:
    • Many small ethical businesses are offering significant discounts right now, again in an attempt to stay afloat. Here are a few:
  5. A few other businesses are selling things for a good cause:
    • HammerMade has had to furlough its employees, but is offering some cheesy and a few amazing COVID-19-themed t-shirts, the profits of which are 100% going to support their furloughed employees. No lie, I’m probably going to buy this one.
    • Everlane is donating all proceeds from their 100% Human line to the Feeding America’s COVID-19 Response Fund. Removed this, because I don’t think a company can call themselves ethical if they’re union-busting during a pandemic, not to mention telling their workers everything is fine and then laying them off. I didn’t buy much from them before, but you can bet I’m not going to buy anything again.
  6. If you like musicians, a lot of them depend on tour income. Buy their music. Attend a virtual live concert and tip if you can: if you’re nerdy enough to like filk, here’s a list of concerts upcoming.

How to help fight COVID-19 in other ways:

  1. If you source healthcare equipment, here is some new equipment for sterilizing N-95 masks to inquire about.
  2. If you’re a scientist, contribute your labor to helping fight COVID-19 here.
  3. Have a computer? Contribute your GPU capacity to Folding@Home to generate data that helps create treatments for COVID-19.
  4. Software developer? Designer? Manufacturer? Mechanic? Biologist? In HR? Project manager? There are projects for you. Help with one of the COVID-19 volunteer projects listed here.
  5. If you’re someone who’s already had COVID-19 and has recovered, you can donate your blood to help others.
  6. If you’re alive today, you can help by following common-sense precautions:
    • Stay at home. Don’t go out to eat or play or go to the gym. Don’t go anywhere.
    • Stay 6 feet apart if you can’t stay at home.
    • Wear a fabric face mask if you have to go out– places to source them here.
    • Avoid seeing anyone you don’t have to. Skype or Google Hangouts or Facebook Messenger or Zoom call people instead.
    • Work from home if you can.
    • Wash your hands for 20 seconds.
    • Preferably, leave packages alone for a couple of days before opening them, as COVID-19 can live on cardboard for up to a day and on plastic for up to 3 days.
    • Remember, you’re not just protecting yourself: you’re protecting anyone you have ever met. I promise you, you know someone who’s in a high-risk group. If your friend has diabetes, or asthma, or is just over 60, they have a 6% or higher chance of dying if they catch COVID-19.

I promise you, there will be more things you can do to help. As that HammerMade shirt says, we’re all in this together (6 feet apart).

My next post will be a roundup of reputable information about COVID-19. There’s a lot of misinformation out there right now, and I want to point you towards something that won’t mislead you.



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