If someone told you last month or even just two weeks ago that there is a flu virus that would force almost 1 billion people around the world to stay home, I suspect you would have found it hard to believe.
Well, the painful reality is sinking in every day as we see the number of COVID-19 cases rising, and patients of all ages dying.
While medical experts are racing against the clock to find a vaccine, it will take at least 12 months before one can be readily available. Until then, what can be your normal?
If you are used to going out to work every day, or to school, or travelled often, no doubt you are starting to feel bored after one week of home confinement. But for your own safety, and the safety of front liners including doctors, nurses, health workers, local government officials, police and more, the best contribution you can make at this time is simply to respect the lockdown.
Staying home however need not mean you can’t help. We can all do our share to flatten the COVID-19 curve. Consider these 10 things you can do from home. These are modest sacrifices, but albeit small, it’s a difference you can easily make.
#1 Sign up for electronic statements
Still getting hard copies of your utility bills? Bank, personal loan and credit card statements? Time to sign up for e-statements. Receiving your latest statement should not require the health sacrifice of several people – from the one generating it, to processing it, to delivering it. You can help lessen the burden on companies struggling with the COVID-19 crisis, plus it’s earth-friendly too.
#2 Discover online banking
Stop treating ATMs as wallets, where you withdraw in small amounts to cover what you will need for the day or the next.
Instead, plan how much cash you will need for a week and have that ready. A week is a good timeframe because you will likely need to step out for basic necessities within that period too (I am assuming you did not panic buy at the grocery before this). If you haven’t tried it yet, discover online banking and the convenience of paying bills via the internet. You can pay almost any bill via online from your banking account or credit card. Again, this will give you less reasons to go out.
#3 Switch to online shopping
There was a long line outside the grocery two days ago and I realized that my plan to pop in and out within one hour will be impossible. With social distancing guidelines, the line was even longer so I decided to go home and find another way to stock up. Sadly, I could not find a supermarket that will deliver (they say they will but there is no available time slot for one week) so I tried grocery pick-up instead. That was so much more efficient – I shopped for what I needed online and arranged time of pick up in the store nearest my home. I showed up, paid and left.
#4 Plan food deliveries
I can’t cook so in the past, we lived by dining out or calling for take-out. With the lockdown, we learned to plan our meals around it to limit interaction with too many messengers and drivers. Thankfully, there are always enterprising Pinoys. Some catering companies have switched their businesses to offer frozen foods and daily menus. We order the former for most of our meals for the week, but on the day it is delivered, we include ready-to-eat meals as a treat. Choose wisely though – make sure to go for reputable catering companies that share how they are sanitizing their kitchens.
#5 Reduce what you consume (and your waste)
As we cope with the threat of a virus, we also need to be aware of many other threats, including one of hunger. Clearly COVID-19 has caused a disruption in many areas and many economies. Food production and distribution will take a hit and at some time in the future, we will all feel it. So buy only what you need for the immediate future, and consume in responsible amounts. Just as importantly, be responsible in sorting and handling your wastes. Garbage trucks can no longer make (and should not make) daily runs.
#6 Reuse as much as you can
Before disposing any food or non-food item, assess if you can reuse it. Even if you end up throwing away 80 percent of them, the 20 percent that you are able to reuse will lessen both your consumption and your waste. That means money saved for you, and less stress on the economy that’s taking quite a beating. There are a wide range of home items you can reuse, from glass jars to plastic bags to seeds (from fruits you enjoyed).
#7 Recycle if you can too
Most people understand recycling to be keeping an item and placing it in a recycle bin. That’s one way but true recycling is when you find a new use for an old item. It’s not easy to recycle by yourself unless you are creative and resourceful. But hey, with all the time in your hands, why not give it a try? The World Wide Web is full of ideas and do-it-yourself tips so go for it.
#8 Volunteer for those in need
You don’t need to leave your house to give back. There are so many appeals for help and you can pick the one that works best for you. A friend decided to attempt making PPEs (personal protective equipment) for front line medical workers from her home and discovered it’s quite easy. Now she can make as many as 50 a day with help from her family. This is one great way to make your confinement productive and meaningful.
#9 Donate and ease their burdens
I’ve said I can’t cook but I know someone who can, and she runs a kitchen that used to deliver meals to students. With classes cancelled, she kept cooking and now her kitchen delivers meals to doctors and nurses in a nearby hospital. With a small donation from me and many other parents, her kitchen continues to produce heartwarming meals that ease the daily burdens of health workers.
Remember too daily wage workers who will have a hard time coping with an extended lockdown. For your drivers, cleaners that you’ve asked to stay home, let them stay home by giving them money for their use and for their families in the provinces. Share what you can spare. Kindness will help see us through this crisis.
#10 Pray to turn the tide
This is one thing we all can and should do. Prayer helplines have been set up if you need someone to pray with you or for you. Pray together as a family, as a community. Use your phone, messaging apps and online meetings to stay in touch and fellowship to have faith in these bleak times. Put your WiFi to heavenly use, not just for bingeing dramas and movies. Let us all claim Matthew 21:22: “And all that you ask in prayer, if you believe, you will receive.”
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.