[Artwork by N.O Bonzo]
A crisis can bring out the best in each of us. During a crisis, we are focused, we reach out, we help each other, we do solidarity and we build community with strangers. We can use the opportunity to build progressive institutions and our movement.
The COVID-19 corona-virus crisis is another challenge we need to face with our values, and our smarts.
Besides being a nurse, I’m Jewish, so I know trouble. I have helped coordinate disaster relief efforts & systems in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and in Port au Prince after the Haitian earthquake. Solidarity, common sense, clear communications and best practices are our greatest gifts. While I am frustrated by our government’s lack of pandemic preparation and organization, this message is for you.
Here are my recommendations:
Our voices are needed to stop the inhumane blockade and sanctions punishing the good people of Palestine, Iran and Venezuela.
Their health care capacity is severely under-resourced, and they are much more defenceless against the spreading contagion. The cruelty of Western power towards them blows back as viruses do not stop at borders.
Here are two Palestinian projects you can help:
Samidoun is the Palestinian prisoners solidarity organization. Prisoners are especially vulnerable to health care neglect by their Israeli jailers
Mutual aid in these times is our best action. Especially for people who are more vulnerable.
There are plenty of examples of mutual aid starting up that you can copy and adopt. The basic steps are to:
Reach out to one person you know who is vulnerable, or reach out to your neighbours, or community. Here is a template for a leaflet to give to your neighbours.
Ask if they need assistance: getting food or medications, getting somewhere without risking public transportation or crowds. They may need child care, dog-walking, etc.
Call those shuttered in. Ask those who are able to volunteer to aid others.
Remember that many elderly and vulnerable people who need aid are not using online social media like you. Best to talk with them and/or leave a leaflet and a phone number.
Here are some Canadian Facebook COVID-19 mutual aid networks:
(If you search “caremongering” or “covid19 mutual aid” on Facebook, many more groups come up as well)
We need to ensure that anyone can get treatment regardless of status.
Connect with health care staff and facilities that will care for people without documentation, status, health insurance or money.
Offer assistance to health and relief workers. If you don’t have their skill set, free them up from doing work you can do.
Demand the government support vulnerable gig economy or informal economy workers who have lost their jobs and have no means to pay for food, heating and rent.
Spread verified information and practices.
Focus on verified information from established organizations. Avoid spreading email and Facebook hoaxes claiming to be from recognized institutions, scientists or doctors.
Essential facts about the corona-virus (covid19)
The World Health Organization Q&A for the public is valid science, easy to read and to understand. :
Scott’s recommendations for going outside
Social distancing is not house arrest nor strict quarantine!
Play in a park. Get fresh air! Get some exercise. Go for a walk, a jog or bike!
You’re probably going to have to work, shop, take a bus or metro, go to school, etc.
** If you can, stay six feet away from other people. Wear a mask, bandanna or scarf over your mouth and nose in public.**
Wearing a barrier-type mask (scarf, bandana, hospital mask, etc.) in public is normal in many south Asian countries. Masks are still controversial in North America.
However, they reduce the spread of the virus and germs.
A mask helps prevent you spraying potentially infected droplets on others when you talk, laugh, cough or sneeze. If someone in your proximity is wearing a mask, that helps protect you.
Clean frequently your common touch objects: door knobs, light switches, faucets, cellphones, keyboards etc.
Consider bringing disposable paper towels as a barrier, or disinfectant wipes to handle public door knobs, bus or metro railings/poles. Use once, then stash them in a bag until you get to a trash can.
Remember this about gloves: they may protect you, but they also carry and can spread germs and viruses. Remove them by hooking your finger from the inside, rolling them off, and not re-using them.
Create a better world! Stay healthy! Do the right thing!
Nurse, member of IJV-Montreal
If you want to contact me about any of this, please write me at: sweinstein [at] ijvcanada.org .