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Many cities are currently relaxing their restrictions for slowing the spread of COVID-19 after sheltering in place for the several weeks. While stores and other public places are starting to reopen, the pandemic is far from over.

New York Blood Center Enterprises (NYBCe) is best known for having one of the largest nonprofit blood centers in the United States, but they also have expertise in response efforts against COVID-19 and other communicable diseases. According to their experts, the following five tips are crucial as cities start to reopen.

How to Slow the Spread of COVID-19

1. Practice social distancing.

SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 disease, is primarily transmitted through person-to-person contact, so social distancing is one of the most effective methods of limiting the spread of this disease. This practice generally consists of staying as far from other people as is practical.

For people who live in the same residence, this means avoiding close contact. Place people who are already sick in a separate room if possible. Outside the home, people should stay six feet away from anyone they don’t live with. Social distancing is especially important for the elderly and others with compromised immune systems.

2. Wear a mask.

Cloth face masks are effective in slowing the spread of COVID-19, especially when combined with other preventative measures. Surgical masks and N95 respirators are still considered critical supplies, so you shouldn’t use them unless you’re a healthcare worker or emergency responder.

You should always wash your hands before putting on a face mask, and ensure it covers both your nose and mouth. A face mask should also fit snugly against the sides of your face while still allowing you to breathe easily. However, some groups of people shouldn’t wear masks, including children under the age of two and individuals who need assistance to remove the mask. People who already have trouble breathing should not wear a face mask.

3. Wash your hands.

Washing your hands for the purpose of preventing the spread of diseases like COVID-19 has more stringent requirements than ordinary handwashing. Use soap and water if possible; otherwise, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds, covering all surfaces of your hands including often-forgotten areas like between fingers and under nails. Dry your hands with an air dryer, if available. Avoid touching your face unless you’ve just washed your hands.

4. Disinfect often.

Wash your hands frequently throughout the day to ensure they remain disinfected as much as possible. It’s particularly important to do so before and after certain events. For example, you should always wash your hands before eating, preparing food and touching your face. You should also wash your hands after the following:

5. Make informed decisions.

The majority of states in the U.S. had eased their public-health restrictions by the end May, and virtually all states have now done so to some extent. However, that doesn’t mean the current policies are safe, as many plans don’t even meet federal standards. People wouldn’t have to determine the safety of state policies in a perfect world, but they do in practice.

Furthermore, the actual practices of individual retail establishments vary considerably in their health measures. It’s therefore essential to research how a store enforces social distancing and the wearing of face masks. Additional practices such as disinfecting surfaces and the use of plastic barriers between customers and employees are also key issues to investigate before entering a store.

How NYBCe Is Responding to COVID-19

While individuals are stepping up to decrease their risk of not only contracting COVID-19 but also spreading it to others in their community, nonprofit organizations are also stepping up to provide essential services during a challenging time. 

For example, when New York City experienced a rapid increase in positive coronavirus cases in early March, NYBCe immediately recognized the need to stabilize their blood supply and prioritize the safety of their staff and donors. They then set out to stabilize the organization in four ways:

These steps helped reduce the burden on the community blood supply and ultimately gave NYBCe time to review the strategy for the months ahead. They were able to form an inter-departmental task force to ensure everyday operations could continue safely.

Likewise, this stabilization period allowed NYBCe to evaluate their resources and pivot certain operations to join the fight against COVID-19. Namely, they rapidly mobilized to set up a COVID-19 convalescent plasma (CCP) collection program in partnership with several local hospitals. Research indicates that CCP may be able to help patients with COVID-19 produce antibodies that remove the virus faster.

NYBCe also formed the COVID-19 Research Repository, an initiative that aims to increase the organization’s CCP inventory as well as conduct COVID-19 disease and vaccine research. The organization has already initiated pre-clinical trials for two promising vaccine candidates against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

While these initiatives all have promising outlooks, NYBCe needs your help. The organization requires financial contributions in order to not only fight COVID-19 but also continue their everyday life-saving operations. Currently, monetary donations help NYBCe increase capacity and supply of CCP units, ensure an ongoing sufficient blood supply, and conduct COVID-19 research and antibody/serology testing.

You can make contributions on a one-time or recurring basis, in addition to making a contribution on behalf of an organization or in memory of a loved one. Contributions can also be made online here. If you have a question related to fund development, you can click here to contact the Office of Philanthropy. To learn more about NYBCe’s stabilize and grow strategy, read this recent article on ZDNet.com.