Coronavirus has exposed a reality that many Americans already knew to be true: there are gaping holes in our deliberately weakened and insufficient social safety net. We all likely know people who are now out of work, who are wondering how they will pay their bills, who are worried about their health and that of their loved ones, who don’t have paid sick days or paid leave they can take, who are homeless, who are incarcerated, who are elderly and live alone, who live with disabilities, who do not have safe homes to go to.
An adequate response would require massive government intervention—one that does not appear to be coming soon. Our country is being run by incompetent buffoons with a death drive, but let’s remember that there are ways we can care for each other right now, even from afar. Let’s stay safe, be gentle with one another, and reserve our rage for the people who truly deserve it.
We will be updating this list regularly.
Donate to your local food bank
Organizations and businesses that regularly donate to food banks are shutting down for the time being, just as need is going up. It’s always a good idea to donate to your local food bank, and especially now! You can find your local food bank here.
Check in with your neighbors who may live alone or be more vulnerable
While now is not the time to gather with people, we can still remain safe—wear gloves/use hand sanitizer/maintain social distance—and check in to make sure our neighbors are doing okay too. One way to do it is to print out a note and leave it under your neighbor’s door, with your phone number and a list of things you’re willing to do, from buying groceries and other supplies to picking up necessary prescriptions. Here’s a template put together by a group in New York City that you can use and modify to fit your needs.
Find a mutual aid group in your neighborhood or organize one yourself
Mutual aid groups are being organized in cities around the country. You can find more information here (as well as a lot of other really helpful information!) if you want to plug into efforts. There are lots of Google Docs circulating, so keep in mind that this is by no means the only source of information out there.
Donate to individuals who have lost work
If you’re able, chip in a few bucks to help people who have lost work, who tend to be overwhelmingly service industry workers who are already living paycheck to paycheck. You’ve probably already seen individuals fundraise for themselves—donate to them if you can! Here are just a few other places to donate that I’ve seen floating around. There are likely more local efforts where you live.
Nationwide: Cinema Worker Solidarity Fund
Nationwide: UNITE HERE’s fund for impacted workers
Nationwide: Coronavirus Care Fund for domestic workers
NYC: Emergency COVID Relief for Sex Workers in New York
DC: Coronavirus Worker Relief Fund
And remember, if you employ a domestic worker, now is a good time to give them paid leave!
Support your favorite small business and their workers
Restaurants, indie bookstores, and other small businesses are being hit hard. Check out their social media accounts to see if they’ve set up a fund for their workers or buy gift certificates from them.
And if you do order takeout, please tip a minimum of $10 if possible and have your food left in front of your door to minimize the risk to your delivery person!
The American Red Cross is urging people to donate blood, as donations have plummeted in recent days. If you are healthy and are able to donate, perhaps consider it, though of course please use your best judgment!
Sign and share petitions to call on our elected officials to step up
Now is not the time to gather in-person to protest, but we can still do what we can to ensure that people who are incredibly vulnerable to getting sick—undocumented immigrants, people who are incarcerated, service workers, and everyone else who is cruelly left out of our shitty social safety net—remain safe and get the care they need.
We can still sign petitions and make phone calls to our elected officials. Here are just a few, and again, there are probably many more local petitions to sign in your state or city.
Nationwide: United We Dream’s petition that calls on immigrant enforcement activities to be suspended, that free testing be available to all, and that all people who are currently detained and imprisoned get the healthcare they need.
Nationwide: Workers at Trader Joe’s have started a petition to demand hazard pay as they work to keep the chain’s grocery stores stocked.
Nationwide: Coworker.org’s petition calling on Starbucks to “suspend all business hours, at every location, while continuing to pay hourly and salary workers, during the spread of the coronavirus.”
DC: The DC Tenants Union’s petition to demand a rent freeze.
New York state: Upstate/Downstate Housing Alliance’s petition to demand an eviction moratorium.