There’s a lot of good in the world and that includes you. Humanity has a way of coming together at crucial moments and we have certainly reached that with the outbreak and spread of the novel coronavirus. At this point, most people’s daily lives have been turned upside down. We can all have an impact on how this plays out.
It’s scary, it’s real, but we will get through this. What we need to focus on now is how we can behave that will lead to the best outcomes for the largest number of people. The real question is, how can we help? If you’re stuck at home it’s easy to feel powerless to help but that’s not true. Let’s cover a few examples, then open up the discussion in the comments so we can hear what has been working for you.
Hunker Down and Stay Home
The Hackaday readership is based all over the world, so do follow your local directives, but for a very large and growing number of countries the word is to stay home and thereby slow the spread of of the COVID-19 virus.
But to keep civilization running there are still many people that must go to work in critical roles like health care providers, food delivery and grocery, pharmacy, police and fire, people keeping the water and power running, and many more. We should do our part to protect their health by maintaining social distancing and quarantine practices. In that interest, it’s really important that you take great care of yourself and your family during this time.
Making a plan is your best friend in this case. Being stuck at home and constantly reading news of the outbreak is certain to affect your mental well-being. Put together a schedule for yourself and your family that provides the kind of stability you had during normal work/school/family life. Include time to unhook from the news and read a book, try out in-home exercise options, visit by phone or internet with friends and family, and do things that are silly, that make you happy, and keep you healthy so that you feel good and make it bearable to continue to stay home.
Elliot Williams has a great example of this. He’s returned some of the normalcy of a daily schedule for his son (and the rest of the family) by building an activity clock for a kindergartner who can’t yet tell time. What other good ideas do we have in the “make cabin fever more bearable” category?
To my previous point, the better you can conserve your resources the less often you need to visit the store. I’m incredibly thankful for the people risking their own health to deliver food to stores, stock shelves, and work the checkout. Let’s all give them a helping hand by using their services as efficiently and infrequently as we can.
Whip up an inventory system for everything you have on hand and try to match it up to a menu plan. Figure out how many days each meal will last (leftovers are my fav) and this will let you know how long you can go between trips to the store. While you’re at it, make note of when items will spoil and work to use them completely before they do. This may sound small, but it has a huge impact if everyone does it!
Check Websites of Your Local Health Care Systems for Ways to Help
I’m sure this varies greatly from location to location, but I found out last week that our local hospital system has a Volunteer Services Team. The reason I found out about it is that the team put out a call for “sewing savvy volunteers” here in Madison, Wisconsin. Have you already guessed why they’re asking?
Yes, sadly the local system is already running out of protective masks for the hospital workers. Wouldn’t it be amazing if tailors from throughout the community were able to sew masks when the health workers are in dire need? That’s the plan and the volunteer services team is getting an approved design and instructions out to people in my area who have sewing machines.
Last week we saw that Prusa put out a plan for 3D printable face shields (usually used along with masks), we’ve also received word that hackerspaces are standing up organized efforts to help like this one at TXRX Labs in Houston. Things efforts seem perfect for the Hackaday crowd, but the key is to get in contact with the right group from your local health provider and contribute to a coordinated effort.
Connect with Your Parent-Teacher Association
It’s possible that students out of school will not return during this school year. But those kids are growing up every single day and they deserve the best education that we can give them. This is a huge challenge for all involved, and every bit of effort helps here.
The Parent-Teacher Association (or equivalent in your area) is an administrative body whose purpose is to facilitate coordination between the teaching system and the families of the students. Our community is highly skilled in computers, networking, and working remotely. Reach out to your PTA and let them know you’d like to help out. Can we be the volunteer IT services so many school districts and families need right now?
Hitch Your Computer to the Research Hive-Mind
It may seem small, but adding your computer’s extra processing power to the Folding@Home effort could have a big impact in research into stopping COVID-19. It’s kind of like mining bitcoin, except you’re mining research data about how the folded proteins inside the virus work.
This is needle-in-a-haystack work that lets researchers identify which drugs may be effective and where to focus their efforts. If the FAH effort were to help bring an effective drug into use even just one day sooner, that would mean a huge number of human lives saved. Let’s do this!
What Do You Think We Should Do To Help Right Now?
It is really hard to stay home and feel like you’re doing anything to help. But of course, in doing so you already are helping to slow the virus! Can we do more?
How do you think we can have a meaningful impact on this crisis? Much effort is being focused right now on the health care response. What can we all do to aid in that? What are the other issues outside of health care that also need some attention to get things moving in the right direction? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.