Global news is spiraling about COVID-19, a respiratory disease caused by a new coronavirus. Officially named SARS-CoV-2, the disease has been abbreviated to COVID-19 and has caused the World Health Organization to declare a public health emergency of international concern. The pandemic has made its way to over 100 locations internationally, including the United States.

In the Mid-Ohio Valley, the daily life of the community has shifted. Families have flocked to grocery stores to stock up on food, businesses have updated their sick leave and work from home policies, public events have been canceled, visitation to care facilities has been limited, and some school districts have closed their doors to reduce the potential for COVID-19 to spread.

In the midst of fear and concern, individuals are being encouraged to stay low, work from home as they’re able, and reduce their exposure to the public. In many ways, we are experiencing first-hand the fallout of community denied. If we cannot come together in schools, churches, public spaces, and grocery stores, how can we continue to be a community that connects?

As the Mid-Ohio Valley’s community magazine, we are always searching for the positive, and in the face of COVID-19, we’ve put together a list of ways we can continue to be community during the days of COVID-19.

How to Support Local Businesses

Buy a Gift Card. Small businesses need the support of our community, especially those that rely on foot traffic to drum up sales. Many local shops and restaurants rely on walk-up traffic to make ends meet month to month, and in times like these when foot traffic is nowhere to be found, the economic impact may cause even our most favorite local businesses to question closing their doors. If you don’t want to shop or eat local now, that’s okay! Purchase a gift card or gift certificate now, ensuring small businesses are generating revenue, and cash in at a later date.

Shop Local Online and Often. Many local businesses are picking up their promotion on how you can find them online. Pay attention to the social media accounts of your favorite businesses or give them a call to learn about how you can order over the phone. Can you have that dress you saw in their window shipped to your front door? Will your favorite local restaurant cook up that burger you love for curbside pick-up or delivery?

E-Commerce Local, Too. Many local businesses have worked hard to adapt to today’s digital world, and you’ll find many shops and restaurants can manage orders via their websites. Some offer subscription boxes while others have their full inventory online for you to view. Fill up a cart and order online from a local business!

Leave A Review. Don’t have the cash to spend local right now? You can still encourage others to spend their money with local businesses by leaving top-notch reviews. Head to Google, Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Facebook to share the love with your favorite local businesses and boost their ratings. Want to take your review to print? Celebrate your favorite local businesses by sending a Letter to the Editor of your local newspaper commending small business owners for making a big difference in your small town.

Like, Comment, and Share Posts on Social Media. Similar to leaving a review online, help boost the engagement and followers of local businesses by actively supporting their social media accounts. That way, when a local business promotes a new product or special sale, it’s more likely to be seen by a larger group of people and convert into more sales for that business.

Subscribe to their E-Newsletter. Many small businesses have online e-newsletters in addition to social media accounts. Often times, e-newsletter subscribers are the first to know of new events, special promotions, discounts, and upcoming happenings. Show local small businesses you care by subscribing to their emails so you’re the first to celebrate their news!

How to Support Local Organizations

Make a Donation. Many local nonprofits rely on event revenue to cover their cost of operations. Without the opportunity to gather in groups, nonprofits are forced to postpone or cancel their events. Help support local nonprofits by making a financial contribution to their organization.

Call & Ask What’s Helpful. In times of great need for the Mid-Ohio Valley, area nonprofits are called to task and step up in amazing ways to serve the needs of our citizens. For example, if schools close, area nonprofits scramble to identify funds and resources to continue to provide meals for area children. Call a nonprofit you care about and ask what supplies you can donate or how you can volunteer your time to make a difference.

Leave A Review. Area nonprofits are vying for the attention of philanthropists, volunteers, and investors. Hop online and leave a review for your favorite local nonprofits, sharing how their mission is making a difference in your community. What would your community be like if the nonprofit wasn’t able to operate anymore? Share your story and celebrate the positive impact local nonprofit’s make. Not only will this help boost their online reputation, but they can utilize these positive remarks to celebrate their work, promote to funders, and include in grant requests that support their programs.

Like, Comment, and Share Posts on Social Media. Similar to leaving a review online, help boost the engagement and followers of local nonprofits by actively supporting their social media accounts. That way, when a local nonprofit puts out a call for volunteers, donations, or launches a new event, it’s more likely to be seen by a larger group of people and convert into more financial donations and event attendance.

Subscribe to their E-Newsletter. Many nonprofits have online e-newsletters in addition to social media accounts. Often times, e-newsletter subscribers are the first to know of new events, fundraising opportunities, calls to action, and more. Show local nonprofits you support their mission by subscribing to their emails!

How to Support Each Other

Check on Your Neighbors. In times of social distancing from groups, individuals can often be overlooked if they don’t have a support network of family or friends to check on them. Head next door to your neighbor, knock on their door, and make sure they’re okay. Do they need help with groceries? Are they lonely? Are their lights on? For our neighbors who are over 60 years of age, single parents, and/or have health concerns, times of social distancing with closures of public spaces can be particularly painful.

Offer Extra. Many families have flocked to the stores to stock up on materials like hand sanitizer, toilet paper, rice and beans, and other items. This mass purchasing of necessities has left many families without access to these much-needed items, including our friends and family members at high-risk. Each individual is the best judge of their own situation and can determine if 60+ rolls of toilet paper are truly needed to get through three weeks, but if you have extra to spare – and, we all do, in one way or another – reach out and see who could use the necessities we rely on so much.

Wash Your Hands, Don’t Touch Your Face, & Stay Home. The CDC recommends that each individual do everything they can to keep themselves, their families, and their communities safe and healthy. Taking precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is of the utmost importance. Precautionary behaviors include washing your hands often for at least 20 seconds, using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol, avoiding contact with your face, avoiding close contact with people who are sick, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, cleaning and disinfecting all frequently touched surfaces daily, and staying home if you have any symptoms of illness.

Make A Plan & Be Flexible. Prepare for closures of social distancing as you’re able and be flexible when those plans may need to change based on updates from the CDC and local health departments.

Avoid Social Stigma. The cornerstone of any community – local, regional, national, international – is our ability to love and care for individuals. Unfortunately, in times of public health emergencies, stress and fear of a disease can lead to social stigma towards people, places, or things. We can counter social stigma by communicating with accurate information about how COVID-19 spreads, speaking out against negative behaviors and using caution when sharing imagery online that reinforces stereotypes.

Share Gratitude with Healthcare Workers and Responders. Our local health departments, healthcare workers, and healthcare systems are under great pressure to not only care for communities concerned with and/or experienced COVID-19, but also to maintain care for a community’s non-coronavirus related health concerns. Emergency rooms, ambulances, and healthcare systems are still caring for our everyday health needs for citizens, in addition to helping communities reduce the spread of COVID-19. Share our gratitude with healthcare workers.

In times of concern and uncertainty – times like these, for many – we can lean into tried and true measures of community. We can be helpers, we can be kind, we can share love, and we can serve our neighbors. We can be community, still, even if denied physical connection. As Fred Rogers once said, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

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