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How To Help While Practicing Social Distancing During The Coronavirus Outbreak

Matt Rourke
Cafeteria worker Cathy Piluso hands out free meals at Bensalem High School in Bensalem, Pa., Thursday, March 19, 2020.

Taking care of yourself and your family can be difficult during an outbreak. But if you find that you have the energy and ability to pitch in, here are some ways you can help the Pittsburgh community fight against COVID-19.

Food Banks

Layoffs, furloughs, and pay cuts have impacted workers across the commonwealth. With these cuts comes food insecurity. Food banks across the region, like 412 Food Rescue and Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, are accepting monetary and non-perishable food donations to keep their shelves stocked for those in need. They’re also seeking healthy, low-risk volunteers to pick up and deliver food. You can check out more ways to help through our food initiative here

Are You Going To Read That?

If you’re not going to reread your copy of "The Alchemist," consider donating it. Though libraries around Pittsburgh have temporarily closed their doors, Little Free Libraries are still open for business. Donating books is as easy as dropping them into your nearest Little Free Library for someone else to enjoy. As an extra precaution, wipe down books and wash your hands before and after donating or picking up books. 

The New York Times reports coronavirus can live for eight to 24 hours on cardboard. To be extra safe, you might let the book sit for a day before cracking it open. 

Apply to Produce Respiratory Devices

Philips Respironics is hiring workers to help assemble ventilators and other respiratory-related medical devices in its Murrysville location.  The company is ratcheting up production amid a shortage of ventilators that will be used for severe cases of COVID 19. Application details can be found on their website.

Help AI Predict the Spread of COVID-19

Want to help predict the future of COVID-19? You can contribute to the Crowdcast project, led by Roni Rosenfeld, a professor of computer science at Carnegie Mellon University. Users will be asked to make subjective assessments about how they think COVID-19 will spread based on their own experience, common sense, news sources and information from friends and family. When those results are aggregated together, Rosenfeld said they have been “quite good” at predicting the flu.

Give a Little Bit

With restaurants, bars, salons and other non-essential businesses across the commonwealth now ordered to limit services, many workers are finding themselves out of work or hurting for cash. The Center for Ethics and Policy has set up a Virtual Tip Jar, where you can find servers, bartenders, and others by their work affiliation and name, and leave a tip for them through Venmo or Paypal.

Blood Donation

Blood drives across the country have been canceled due to COVID-19, causing a shortage in blood supply. If you are healthy and able, donating blood is a cost-free way to help hospitals stay prepared for emergencies. The American Red Cross is holding blood and plasma donation drives in Pittsburgh, Beaver, Greensburg and Irwin in the coming weeks.

Be A Neighbor

In a city famous for its neighborhoods, being a good neighbor to the elderly and those at risk is another way to help the fight against COVID-19. Running errands or coordinating food drop offs can help those who are most at-risk to remain at home. Neighborhood-based social media, Nextdoor, has rolled out a Help Map, where users can post skills and services to offer their neighbors. Or, you can do it the old-fashioned way by calling or leaving notes. Remember to practice social distancing when seeing neighbors face-to-face.

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