A deadly virus is sweeping the globe. There’s no vaccine, no cure, it’s contagious and it’s spreading. Living in a pandemic, I feel a sense of fear, wondering if I’ll ever hug my friends and family again. Wondering, if, on this week’s trip to the grocery store I’ll bring home a potentially deadly virus to my child. If, this time, I’ll be quarantined for 14 days and end up in the hospital, because I am asthmatic and at risk. But medical experts at the CDC and other organizations are identifying ways people can take control of lives while living in the pandemic.

Here are 4 ways you can take back control during the COVID-19 pandemic:

1. Choose to stay home to avoid COVID-19

Staying home while COVID-19 is circulating in your community is the best rebellion against the disease. You can take control by refusing to let yourself be exposed to COVID-19 and refuse to let yourself be the one to bring it home to your family. You can’t contract the disease if you are not around it, and if you have to go out for those weekly groceries or household needs, follow other safe practices such as social distancing and face coverings.

2. Social distance and wear face coverings to avoid unknowingly spreading COVID-19

Over the last few weeks, I debated if I should wear a face covering. Won’t people in public assume I’m sick and treat me like I have the plague? Well now the CDC has spoken – the public should wear a cloth face cover when out and about. Did you know there is now evidence you can spread the COVID-19 disease before you exhibit symptoms? It’s true. And because of this fact, you, and your family and friends, can all take action by refusing to spread COVID-19 unknowingly to others. Wearing a simple cloth face covering made from materials found around the house allows you to take control. Remember: it’s important to continue to practice social distancing.

Watch: How to Make Your Own Face Covering or Surgeon General on Social Distancing
Read: DIY Cloth Face Coverings

3. Be extra diligent by practicing good hygiene

While I would hope everyone’s been using good hygiene practices before COVID-19, it’s even more important now. I keep a handy instant hand sanitizer bottle in my car for after the grocery store, but the minute I get home the first thing I do is wash my hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as recommended by the CDC. And of course, the minute you tell yourself “Do not touch your face,” you’ve instantly got an inch on your nose, but resist touching your face! Become self-resilient by washing your hands and resisting the urge to touch your face.

Watch: How to Properly Wash Your Hands

4. Help others and make a difference by safely donating or volunteering

In a time of crisis, often people want to take action in their community. But how do we help during a pandemic?

  • It’s important to realize that the best thing you can do for your community is to save lives by slowing the spread of COVID-19. By practicing social distancing and staying home as much as possible you are already making a positive impact on those around you.
  • Provide mental and emotional support, or help from afar, for those in your own networks including friends, family, neighbors and acquaintances. Call to check in with family and give emotional support or drop off groceries for an elderly neighbor.
  • Support older adults and others at higher risk. According to early data shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in an interview with AARP (Coronavirus and Older Adults: Your Questions Answered), older adults are twice as likely to have serious COVID-19 illness because as people age, their immune systems change, making it harder for their body to fight off diseases and infection. Make a plan with your neighborhood or faith group, and have a plan to support one another and how people, especially older adults, can signal the group or neighborhood if they need support.
  • If you are able, donate to the SW Montana COVID-19 response fund, which will offer support and focus on areas in the region that need it the most – no personal contact with you required.
  • If you still want to do more, and you are not at risk, local organizations looking for advocates and volunteers can be found at VolunteerMT.org.

Learn more about Donation & Volunteer opportunities

Jasmine Hall, 29, is a native Montanan who lives in Bozeman with her boyfriend and 4-year-old daughter. She has a BA in journalism and media studies, previously worked as a newspaper reporter, and is Recording Supervisor at the Gallatin County Clerk & Recorder’s Office.