SANTA FE – Many New Mexicans are asking how they can help during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some suggestions from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and state agency leaders involved in minimizing spread of the virus:

Keep your distance. Social distancing is the single most important contribution anyone can make. It prevents sick people from coming in close contact with healthy people to reduce opportunities for disease transmission. It includes large-scale measures like canceling group events or closing public spaces as well as individual decisions such as avoiding crowds. Social distancing slows the outbreak, reduces the chance of infection among high-risk populations and reduces the burden on the health-care system. In other words, social distancing is an act of solidarity meant to protect not just you but the entire community.

“The difference between the best-case and worst-case scenarios for this virus is what the people of New Mexico do with the direction they’re getting,” said Human Services Secretary Dr. David Scrase. “If they are willing to stay home as much as possible and practice social distancing when they can’t; if they’re willing to wash hands regularly with soap and water or sanitizer, then we’ll have a best-case scenario.”

Buy local. This is a difficult time for all New Mexico businesses as foot traffic slows and sales drop. Help those businesses by finding creative new ways to support them. Order takeout from local restaurants. Purchase gift cards from local businesses. Order from local stores online if you can.

Make an appointment to donate blood. While blood infusions are not routine treatment for COVID-19, they are essential to treating trauma and cancer, among other things. Healthy people are therefore urged to call their local blood bank and make an appointment to donate in a one-on-one setting. Here is a list of New Mexico blood banks, including phone numbers. Blood banks already follow procedures to keep both the donor and transfusions safe.

“As events are canceled and travel restrictions are imposed, we need to ensure that healthy donors continue to donate blood,” said Heidi Chase, donor recruiter for Vitalant, a blood bank in Albuquerque.

Volunteer. To find out how to volunteer, call the state’s general information hotline, 1-833-551-0518, and press 8.

Volunteer to help the elderly. Assist the New Mexico Aging and Long-Term Services Department in providing food and services to New Mexico seniors. Email with the subject Line: READY TO HELP. In the email, identify the city/town you reside in and your phone number. The agency will then respond with more information.
“A lot of community members are reaching out, saying they wish to volunteer – which we are so grateful for. But we do need to utilize volunteer support in the safest way possible. The materials volunteers may be charged with delivering need to be handled with safety protocols in place so that those in need are not in any way put at risk,” ALTSD Secretary Katrina Hotrum Lopez said.

Check on vulnerable acquaintances. Help a neighbor or acquaintance who may have to self-isolate or quarantine, especially elderly people, people with disabilities or long-term health conditions, and those who do not have family nearby. Help could involve running errands, making phone calls or just providing a friendly voice of reassurance.

Buy only what you need at the store; don’t hoard. As the country hunkers down against the novel coronavirus, some people are getting panicky and buying more of essential products and shelf-stable foods. Hoarding huge supplies of high-demand items like toilet paper and hand sanitizer could leave others without. Plan to shop once a week, and buy only what you need for that period.

“I know that people must go out and get groceries. When you do that, please think about your neighbors, your elderly family members and only buy what you need,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said.

Donate supplies. Homeless shelters still need supplies, especially toilet paper and cleaning products. Consider donating those items to a shelter near you, or call to see what other items may be needed. Here is a list of New Mexico shelters, organized by community.

Donate food. New Mexico food banks report they are having trouble keeping their shelves stocked due to increased demand for assistance and competing orders to distributors from other large buyers. So consider taking a box of non-perishable food to a food bank near you. Here is a list of New Mexico food banks.

Self care. You’re doing everything you can to protect yourself, your family and your community from COVID-19, so relax. Stressing over what might happen does no good and can actually reduce your immune system’s ability to fight off antigens, making you more susceptible to infection. Instead, focus on eating healthfully, staying hydrated, getting some exercise (jumping jacks or situps don’t require a gym), practicing relaxation techniques and staying in touch with friends and family via non-face-to-face options like FaceTime.