As the coronavirus outbreak forces people into self-quarantine, long hours without leaving the house can turn friendly neighbors into far-off strangers.
But Erin Hinson of Louisville, Kentucky, believes now more than ever is the time to lean on others in the neighborhood for food, supplies and TLC.
Hinson is the founder of Louisville COVID-19 Match, an online service that matches high-risk seniors in the Louisville area with low-risk, healthy people under 60. The low-risk “helpers” bring their older neighbors supplies, like medicine and food, as well as providing them with socially distanced human interaction via phone call or a wave through the window.
“Our helpers are just checking in every couple of days,” Hinson says. “You know, ‘Hey, do you need anything? Are you doing okay?’ Because while social distancing is great for the reduction of the virus, it can be very detrimental to mental health.”
The drop-off process for supplies follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to avoid close contact, Hinson says. Helpers are instructed to leave goods on the front porch, then call their matches to let them know the goods are there. The high-risk match picks up the goods while their helper waits outside at a safe distance, and reminds them to wash their hands after putting the supplies away.
“They know that they're protecting not only themselves but the person that they have been entrusted to love through this,” Hinson says.
In fact, Hinson herself is fairly high-risk for COVID-19. As a Type 1 diabetic with asthma, going out to buy groceries or medicine could result in a detrimental situation for her health.
But Hinson wasn’t satisfied waiting out the virus in quarantine. She wanted to make sure Louisville remained strong and faced the threat together.
“Something like this [virus] has the potential to put me in a place where I don't want to be necessarily,” she said. “But this is what I could do. I could sit behind my computer and mobilize my community.”
Hinson says she wants people to know that even if they’re afraid, now is the time to follow safe hygiene practices and step up to help your community, in whatever way that may mean.
“I think it's important to remember that the only way we're going to do it is together. And by together, I mean at six feet away and maintaining washing your hands,” she says. “But there are still people in your community who need you. And if you are under 60 and at lower risk of complications from COVID-19, this is your opportunity to to love your community.”
This segment aired on March 19, 2020.