Recent reports show that from March 15 to March 21, 3.3 million people filed claims for unemployment in the US. And experts warn that COVID-19 may continue to shut down large parts of America’s economy.

During these uncertain times, we need the support of our local community, and they really need us. We will get through this by taking care of ourselves and one other. Here are five ways to start making a positive impact right now.

1. Buy local. Buy often. 

If Wednesday night always means takeout from your favorite Italian place, there’s no reason to change that routine. An effective way to support local businesses is to spend money on things produced and sold locally. Don’t forget to check for your favorite restaurant and shops online.

2. Buy gift cards.

The biggest challenge during times like these is maintaining cash flow. That’s why purchasing gift cards can make a huge difference for local businesses. A gift card helps local merchants, who can’t serve customers right now, stay in business and prepare to serve customers when their doors reopen.

3. Give blood.

The need for blood donation is constant, especially in times of crisis. Volunteers are the only source of blood for those in need of medical care. Right now, the need to maintain and replenish valuable blood and blood platelet supplies is a major concern. Here is a listing for upcoming blood drives in the area.

4. Buy hotel vouchers for a future stay.

And when all of this has passed, we’ll be anxious to reconnect with family and friends. Knowing that a family reunion is definitely in your future, now is a great time to prepay for hotel rooms.

5. Stay healthy.

The best thing you can do for your community is to take care of yourself and protect the health of others. Follow your state and community guidelines, stay indoors, limit your time in public places, avoid large crowds, use delivery services when possible, and stay safe.

These are scary times, indeed. But it’s during these moments that we realize we can help support our local communities right now. As US Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams, MD, MPH says, “Social distancing does not have to mean social disengagement.” We can work together to protect each other and support our local communities.