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How San Antonians, local organizations are uniting to help those affected by the coronavirus

From offering to pay bills to providing food to the most vulnerable

San Antonio Food Bank
San Antonio Food Bank (KSAT)

SAN ANTONIO – The coronavirus pandemic is triggering panic across the nation as more and more cases arise. But, even some of the worst circumstances can manage to bring out the best in people, including San Antonio.

On Friday, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency in response to the international spread of COVID-19. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott declared a statewide emergency, and San Antonio city officials extended it’s public health emergency after confirming its first travel-related COVID-19 case.

On Saturday, the Department of Health and Human Services confirmed a Grand Princess cruise ship passenger tested positive for COVID-19 at JBSA-Lackland. Officials also confirmed a second travel-related case at Methodist Hospital.

Despite the international chaos, many individuals and organizations in the Alamo City are reaching out to those who are being directly and indirectly affected by the economic and social impacts of the international outbreak. From offering to pay bills for one another to providing food to poor households and the elderly, San Antonians are working together.

San Antonio author, journalist and former teacher Shea Serrano took to Twitter Thursday, starting a “kindness thread” and offering to provide some financial relief to those who are struggling.

“If you’ve been hit & need a little help, then drop your Venmo/CashApp/PayPal below. If you’ve been lucky enough to not have your work life affected & wanna help out, then grab someone from here," Serrano’s Tweet read, in part.

Many in the Twitter “kindness thread" are sending each other funds as they undergo self-quarantines and take time off work to combat the coronavirus. Some users in the comments say they were also financially impacted by the cancellation of South by Southwest arts and technology festival in Austin.

KSAT 12 reached out to Serrano, asking what prompted him to start the charitable action. He said, ultimately, he wants to provide a sense of comfort in the midst of all the worry surrounding COVID-19.

“Everything felt shitty and we wanted it to feel not that way for a bit,” Serrano said.

The Pearl is also lending a helping hand to those impacted by purchasing all produce from its Farmers Market vendors and donating it to the Food Bank of San Antonio.

The Pearl issued this statement Friday, saying it aims to help families that are especially vulnerable to this disease.

“Our efforts are focused on our community and small business partners. Pearl is supporting San Antonio Food Bank’s Coronavirus preparedness campaign to reach low-income households throughout San Antonio and Southwest Texas. Learn more here: www.safoodbank.org/cvprep. Pearl will be purchasing all produce from our Farmers Market vendors and donating it to the Food Bank of San Antonio to help feed and sustain those families that are especially vulnerable. We will work closely with our restaurant partners in the upcoming weeks to help support them during this difficult time.”

The San Antonio Food Bank has also launched a month-long coronavirus “preparedness and prevention campaign," according to its website.

The food bank aims to serve as many as 300,000 low-income households with a 14-day supply of food and a coronavirus preparedness kit.

As the pandemic continues, the Pearl says its top priority is maintaining the health and safety of the community, which is why it will also be implementing the following:

  • All Pearl programming is suspended until further notice.
  • Gustav’s Geysers is turned off until further notice.
  • Venue Open House is suspended until further notice.
  • Weekend Farmers Market is suspended until further notice.

Meals on Wheels San Antonio is working hard to help elderly people in the city. The organization says it is working to provide extra food supplies to their at-risk, elderly clients who face mobility challenges.

Currently, Meals on Wheels serves as a lifeline for 5,000 seniors in Bexar County.

Listed below is its plan to help senior citizens amid the coronavirus pandemic:

Meals on Wheels’ meal delivery plan:

  • Staff, volunteers, visitors and anyone who works with or near our food supplies are trained in frequent hand-washing, covering coughs and sneezes, cleaning and disinfecting areas frequently and staying home when ill.
  • We continue to utilize appropriate cleaners to sanitize all surfaces and keep our meals and food areas safe.
  • Starting March 14, clients will receive additional meals to keep in their homes in case of an interruption in delivery service.
  • Those delivering food will practice social distancing during the meal drops, handwashing and only participate if healthy.
  • Our goal is to continue to deliver meals to our clients, a mostly elderly, high-risk population, and check on their safety during this time.
  • Extra food supply boxes of shelf-stable or refrigerated meals to deliver to clients as needed
  • To help: donations of funds will help to purchase extra food and supply box needs. Donations are available online at www.mowsatx.org

Current courses of action:

  • Meals on Wheels – Meals on Wheels is suspending in-person client intakes and re-assessments immediately. New clients will be screened over the phone and put on meal service as quickly as possible. Those delivering food are instructed to report back to Meals on Wheels San Antonio staff if there is a client concern observed during delivery.
  • Grace Place Alzheimer’s Activity Centers – staff is taking additional steps to protect clients onsite by temperature checking staff and clients and temporarily canceling any outside visitors from entering the centers.
  • Friendly Visitor – Program will immediately suspend in-person client visits and ask volunteers to call clients two times a week instead.
  • AniMeals – Staff and volunteers will deliver food for the companion dogs and cats of MOWSA clients this weekend and use social distancing practices.

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the new virus, stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The disease first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China, but spread around the world in early 2020, causing the World Health Organization to declare a pandemic in March.

KSAT CORONAVIRUS CONTINUING COVERAGE:

· Drive-through COVID-19 testing is now in San Antonio. Here’s what we know.

· These events have been canceled, postponed, modified around San Antonio area over coronavirus

· Track live coronavirus updates with real-time map of confirmed cases, deaths

· How San Antonians, local organizations are uniting to help those affected by the coronavirus

· The ultimate coronavirus guide: From preparedness and prevention to testing and treatment

· SAQ: Your questions answered about the coronavirus

· How San Antonio is responding to first travel-related coronavirus case in San Antonio

· Texas Gov. Abbott declares statewide emergency over coronavirus pandemic

· Here’s what President Trump’s coronavirus emergency declaration does

· What we know: San Antonio tourism hotspots impacted by the coronavirus


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