As the COVID-19 outbreak continues, people may be finding themselves in need, and in ways they hadn't anticipated. At the same time, non-profits and charities are asking for donations of essentials. This hour, we hear what Vermonters need personally, in their homes and their communities, and ways Vermonters can help Vermonters by donating, giving blood and more.
Our guests are:
- John Sayles, CEO of the Vermont Food Bank
- Amanda Herzberger, Chair of the Diaper Bank program for the Junior League of Champlain Valley
- Kevin Mazuzan, executive director of the American Red Cross, Vermont and New Hampshire Region
- Amy Wenger, registered nurse, co-founder and executive director of the Vermont Donor Milk Center in Essex Junction
- Erica Marks, director of volunteer services at Age Well charged with recruiting, training and scheduling Meals on Wheels volunteers.
Broadcast live on Thursday, April 2, 2020 at 12 p.m. Rebroadcast at 7 p.m.
On March 31, Gov. Phil Scott put out a call for volunteers. You can register to be part of the state’s coordinated COVID-19 response, here. But that's not the only way to lend a hand.
Vermont Emergency Management issued a statement on March 19, regarding grassroots community organizing in the face of COVID-19:
"While Vermonters are staying home as much as possible to slow the spread of COVID-19, some are stepping up to ensure their neighbors have what they need. This type of community support is crucial, but we need to make sure our helpers and volunteers are still using social distancing practices to protect our most vulnerable Vermonters."
On March 25, the governor's "Stay Home, Stay Safe" order went into effect, requiring that non-essential businesses suspend in-person work until April 15. The order also required that Vermonters abstain from any unnecessary travel outside of their homes. Exceptions were made for many types of "essential work," as well as for "the care of others" and "providers of necessities and services to economically disadvantaged populations."
Under the order, volunteering is allowed "provided it is with an agency that is deemed necessary for public health and safety," said Stephanie Brackin, a spokesperson for the state's COVID-19 Joint Information Center. "The best way to volunteer is virtually, but if you want to help by packing donated food or [doing] something out in the community, you can only do so if the non-profit is eligible to be open, and can provide a safe workspace with sufficient social distancing between volunteers."
For those who wish to volunteer and assist with Vermont’s response to COVID-19 in their communities, here are a few guidelines to keep yourself and others safe, developed by The Vermont Department of Health and Age Well Vermont, in conjunction with Vermont Emergency Management.
How To Deliver Groceries Safely To A Neighbor Who Needs to Stay Home:
1. Practice Social Distancing: Do not enter anyone’s home and keep a distance of at least six feet from other volunteers or the person you are trying to help. When asking someone if they need help, call or email them first. Do not knock on their door.
2. Practice Good Sanitation: Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60 % alcohol content. Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
3. Wear Clean Gloves While Shopping, And While Delivering: After delivery, remove the gloves and wash your hands. In general, wear clean gloves any time you are handling items that may be given to people with a weaker immune system, and when you are close to someone who may be sick.
4. How To Execute The Perfect Delivery: Have the person you are delivering to text, call or leave a note outside their door with their grocery list. At the store, collect the items and check out separately with your order and then with theirs so they are packaged, apart, with separate receipts. Wearing gloves, ring the doorbell and leave their bags at the door. Consider settling up using an app or by having them leave a check for you at the door.
5. Keep Track Of Your Contacts: Keep a list of anyone you come into close contact with in case contact tracing is required. If you feel sick or learn that you have had contact with someone who is sick, stop doing community work immediately.
You Should Not Deliver Meals Or Volunteer In-Person If:
1. You feel sick.
2. You have had contact with someone who is sick or has tested positive for COVID-19.
3. You are part of a population deemed to be at "high risk" for contracting a serious case of COVID-19 by the CDC.
4. You work with, live with or otherwise are in frequent contact with high-risk populations.
The list embedded here will be updated regularly by VPR.