The world has been slowing down over the past few weeks with the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). We’re all seeing the headlines, breaking news segments, personal updates from friends and family flooding our social newsfeeds. But as we pause our work, and distance ourselves from groups of other people, many of our local communities here in Nevada are struggling with the rapid changes of business closures and interruptions to daily life. So how can we help? What can we be doing to help our neighbors and fellow Nevadans in this time of uncertainty and health concerns? Those of us with the privilege of working remotely, who are physically healthy, and have a source of transportation can give back and help others. Here are three ways we can help our local communities.

Donate to a Foodbank

Feeding America estimates that prior to the outbreak, one in eight people in Nevada struggled with hunger. The COVID-19 outbreak has strained many food banks across the country. More children are at home, grocery store shelves are left bare from increased demand, business closures have led to layoffs and employees taking unpaid sick leave, and there are less volunteers preparing meals and packing food for food-insecure Nevadans. The Washington Post reported earlier this month on the impact on food pantries, with some seeing a diminish in their volunteer base by 95 percent. There is a growing need for us to give to our local food banks and meal-relief programs. Three Square has put together a list of emergency food distribution sites and is coordinating food delivery for seniors.

Give Blood

Social distancing and the cancellation of blood drives has left us with a dramatic decrease in blood donations.

“We need people to start turning out in force to give blood.” That is the urgent call-to-action coming from Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, as fear about the coronavirus is keeping people from wanting to donate blood.

The FDA states that maintaining the nation’s blood supply levels is critical and “people who donate blood are equivalent to those people who are working in a critical infrastructure industry. In volunteering to do so, they are contributing immeasurable to the public health of our nation”. In Nevada, there are several places to donate. Vitalant—the second largest blood provider in the country—is working with other blood banks to avoid a critical failure of the blood supply. Vitalant has several locations in Nevada, including Las Vegas, Carson City, Reno, and others. Find a location here.

Start an Online Community Group

Social distancing does not mean isolation. Now more than ever, it’s important that we stay connected to our neighbors and local businesses. Some local communities and neighborhoods are starting online groups to stay connected, share updates, and coordinate assistance for each other. This is a fantastic way for neighbors to keep in contact and check on the wellbeing of others. Another use of these online spaces is to create wish lists and crowdsource supplies, food, baby formula and diapers, transportation, and other assistance among one another. Here are some helpful places to get started:

Facebook Groups: A free and easy way to create an online community to stay connected, share updates in posts or live videos, share documents and news.

Nextdoor App: Nextdoor is a local hub to connect and share with the neighborhood. It’s where communities come together to keep a local shopkeeper in business. Where neighbors exchange recommendations for babysitters, plans for local events, and tips about what to order at that new cafe down the street. Where local agencies connect with neighbors in need.

Google Docs: A free way to create a neighborhood wish list that updates as you write. Google Docs brings your documents to life with smart editing and styling tools to help you easily format text and paragraphs. Choose from hundreds of fonts, add links, images, and drawings. All for free.

An often-overlooked population is those who struggle with substance use, mental health, and people in recovery. Foundation for Recovery, Nevada’s statewide recovery community organization, has organized a central hub with live updates for anyone seeking help or online resources for support, including 12-step meetings and a warmline for one-on-one support. If you or someone you know needs to talk to someone, know that you are not alone. You can call the Nevada peer recovery support warmline at 1-800-509-7762 and speak to someone in recovery.