Coronavirus: How volunteers in America are helping in the fight against Covid-19

People are using hashtag #MakeMedicalMasks to share sewing patterns for volunteers 

Chelsea Ritschel
New York
Tuesday 24 March 2020 18:28 GMT
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How people in the US are helping the fight against coronavirus (Getty)
How people in the US are helping the fight against coronavirus (Getty)

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Americans are stepping up to do what they can to fight the virus and help those on the front lines.

While the majority of US citizens have been engaging in social distancing practises in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus, many others are finding different ways to help - from encouraging people to donate misused masks or sewing them themselves to asking people to support charities as remote volunteers.

As a result, Americans have formed a volunteer army of sorts that’s aim is to assist the country in its fight against coronavirus.

Sewing masks

With supplies of masks at a critical low in hospitals around the country, a hospital system in Seattle has turned to the public for help in creating new masks.

Providence St Joseph Health is offering people in the surrounding area kits that include materials to create 100 masks.

“We need to act now to ensure caregivers have the isolation masks they need to do their jobs safely," Providence's website states. "Anyone with a willing heart and the ability to sew can help us protect our caregivers by sewing masks they can wear on the front lines of the fight against Covid-19."

The hospital isn’t alone in its call for help, as many others have turned to social media to request that those who know how to sew create masks for hospital staff.

“You can make masks for healthcare workers,” one person tweeted. “Here’s the pattern. Can use straps instead of elastic. #MakeMedicalMasks”

Donating blood

On 22 March, the US Surgeon General asked Americans to donate blood. In response, countless people shared photos of themselves donating blood and reiterated the call to action on social media.

“I am giving blood with my family today,” Dr Mehmet Oz tweeted. “We are facing a dire shortage of blood in this country. There are still safe ways to donate in the time of social distancing, and for those of us that are healthy, it’s vitally important we support those in need.”

Another person wrote: “Wondering what you can do to help respond to #COVID19? Consider donating blood if eligible to do so. As the Surgeon General pointed out, part of preparedness is a robust blood supply. #DonateBlood. Find a location near you today.”

Volunteering mental health services

With Americans unable to visit mental health providers amid the coronavirus pandemic, some are urging those trained in providing mental health services to volunteer their time in helping those who need it.

Last week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo called on psychologists and therapists to pitch in their help.

“Mental health is a vital part of public health,” he tweeted. “We're asking psychologists and therapists to pitch in and volunteer their services to help with New York's #Coronavirus response. To sign up, visit: http://health.ny.gov/assistance. Stress and anxiety are very real.”

Cuomo was not alone in his call to action, as numerous mental health providers shared their dedication to helping those in need.

“I spend most of my time as a therapist helping people manage worry and anxiety. My colleagues and I have collated some resources with techniques to manage anxiety around coronavirus. I'll add to it as I come across more. Feel free to share the link," one person wrote.

Others have shared resources their therapists have shared with them to help others manage their mental health.

“Here’s a resource my therapist showed me to help with anxiety between our sessions! It was created specifically for #COVID19,” another person tweeted.

Volunteering remotely

While the majority of businesses are shut down, Americans are still able to help through volunteering - by helping charity organisations remotely.

According to CNET, the organisation Alone - which provides virtual companionship to the elderly - is one option, while others have announced they will be offering free tutoring services to children who are being taught remotely.

The prospects aren’t limited to coronavirus either, as countless people have offered to volunteer with a range of services.

“I'm thinking about volunteering to remotely teach people to code. Anybody interested?” one person tweeted.

Someone else said: “Volunteer remotely (online, from anywhere!) with the United Nations. Use the time you have at home and make a difference #volunteering.”

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