We all thought that the COVID-19 crisis would be far behind us by now. But COVID-19 is still here and so is the need for people to rally together to support families and communities hit hard by the pandemic.

If you’re wondering how to fight COVID-19, the best way is still to get a COVID vaccine. And if you’re eligible for a booster shot, get one of those as well.

But once you’re vaccinated, there are still plenty of things you can do to help. From things we can all do every day to ways you can lend a hand if you have the means, here are 10 ways to support your community during COVID-19.

1. Continue to wear a mask in public indoor spaces

While updated masking guidelines from the CDC state that masks are only advised in areas with high community level spread, you still may choose to wear a mask in public indoor spaces. Especially if you live with or are visiting someone who is at a higher risk of experiencing a severe case of COVID-19, wearing a mask can help protect others, and yourself.

2. Maintain proper handwashing techniques

Most of us have never washed our hands this often, or thoroughly. If you find your skin needs a lot of lotion these days, you’re doing it right!

Having trouble washing for a full 20 seconds? Sing one of these songs from a local favorite to help pass the time:

  • “Raspberry Beret” by Prince
  • “Runaway Train” by Soul Asylum
  • “Blowin’ in the Wind” by Bob Dylan
  • “The Joker” by Steve Miller Band
  • “Truth Hurts” by Lizzo

Another benefit of all that hand scrubbing? It’s one of the best things you can do to prevent the seasonal flu.

3. Practice self-care during COVID-19

Putting yourself first may feel like odd advice when so many people need help. But think of it like the safety instructions on an airplane – put our own mask on first. Because even though our first instinct may be to help others before ourselves, we’re best equipped to do so when our own basic needs are met.

What does self-care look like? Doing your best to maintain a healthy lifestyle is a good starting point. Try to eat more fruits and veggies – whether they’re fresh, canned, frozen or dried – and drink more water. Getting enough sleep is important, too.

If you’re feeling stressed, find a way to unwind. Deep breathing exercises and guided imagery are great stress management techniques to help support yourself. Mindful breathing is a simple (yet powerful) way to help manage both the physical and emotional symptoms of stress.

And if you’re dealing with loss, finding a COVID-19 support group can help. There are plenty of online support groups but if you need help finding one, ask your doctor or check with family or friends.

Caring for yourself is a selfless act that boosts your ability to be there for others when they need you most.

4. Reach out to people who might need it

While stay-at-home orders are long gone and life is getting back to normal, many people continue to feel stress, fear and loneliness. That’s why it’s important to stay in touch with your friends and loved ones, particularly those who might need a little extra support like older individuals, parents or caregivers.

Beyond keeping in touch, you can also help parents and caregivers find resources that might help make things a little easier. Little Moments Count, which is made possible by HealthPartners, can be one of those resources.

The mission of Little Moments Count, is to help support parents, caregivers and communities during this time. From how to keep families active to how-to videos on handwashing, our health care and community teams have hand-selected a variety of helpful resources.

5. Share gratitude and be patient

It’s easy to feel a little grumpy when it seems that your favorite coffee shop is never open or when you need to stand in lines forever just to buy your groceries. Stores and restaurants have the all-clear to be open again, so why aren’t they?

The truth is that many people are holding off on going back to work, leaving many companies short-staffed. In the meantime, it can help to show appreciation to the workers you interact with.

A simple “thank you” may not seem like much, but you’d be amazed to know just how uplifting and energizing these two simple words can be to someone who may be feeling undervalued or stressed.

6. Don’t buy more than you need

Many of us have never seen supermarket aisles as empty as they were during the initial months of the pandemic. Thankfully, shortages of toilet paper and hand sanitizer seem to be behind us. But if shelves start to look bare again, don’t panic and buy more than you need. It’s likely that more products are on the way. And if you buy the last dozen jars of pasta sauce, when you really need only one, you make it harder for other people to keep their pantries stocked.

7. Share if you have extra

The pandemic increased food insecurity for many, especially families with children. So if you have extra food or the ability to give money, consider donating to members of our community who need it. You can help by giving through local nonprofits such as:

8. Donate blood after getting the COVID-19 vaccine

Lots of people ask, can you donate blood after a COVID-19 vaccine? The answer is yes – and please do.

Early in the pandemic, social distancing measures forced the cancellation of blood drives across the nation. While we’re well over a year into COVID-19, blood donation levels still aren’t up to pre-pandemic levels. As a result, the American Red Cross is experiencing an extreme blood shortage.

If you’ve been vaccinated, here’s what you need to know about donating blood:

  • In most cases, there’s no waiting period between getting a COVID-19 vaccine or booster shot and giving blood. However, if you don’t know what type of COVID-19 vaccine you got, you’ll need to wait 2 weeks.
  • To make things easy, it’s recommended that you bring your vaccination card with you.
  • The Red Cross has processes in place to keep donors and blood recipients safe.
  • To get started, simply enter your ZIP code on the Red Cross give site to find available appointment times near you.

9. Give back through community service during COVID-19

Another way to give back is through volunteering and community service – and local organizations are eager for your help.

Many nonprofits were devastated by the pandemic, especially if they depend on in-person volunteers. Thankfully, most of these organizations have welcomed back volunteers at least in some capacity. If you’ve put volunteering on hold during the pandemic, now is the time to get back to it.

If you’re looking for community service ideas during COVID-19, one great resource is VolunteerMatch, a website that lists hundreds of volunteer opportunities – both virtual and in person. You can sign up to get email updates about new opportunities, too.

10. Support COVID-19 response and relief funds

By donating to our COVID-19 Response and Relief Fund, you support patients, families and our entire community as we try to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. Donate by selecting from the foundations listed below: