By MARTA MARTA has made operational adjustments and service changes to protect the health and wellness of employees and address the dramatic ridership and revenue decline seen in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. “MARTA stands by our role as a provider of essential infrastructure. Our frontline employees are everyday heroes who drive buses, run trains, protect our customers, and clean vehicles and stations. I applaud the fortitude and resilience they show every day by coming to work despite the anxiety and uncertainty that has become the new normal,” said MARTA General Manager and CEO Jeffrey Parker. “While additional operational changes may be forthcoming, we are implementing the following changes to current operations to better protect our staff.” Bus customers will now enter and exit using the rear doors only, except for customers who require the accessibility ramp. Also, because our Breeze farebox is located at the front door, MARTA is suspending fare collection on buses. For customers transferring to and from the rail system, fares will be paid at the rail stations. MARTA is closing public restrooms at low-utilization rail stations. Public restrooms will remain open at College Park, Doraville, Five Points, H.E. Holmes, Indian Creek, Lindbergh, and North Springs rail stations. MARTA is reducing bus service by approximately 30 percent. All bus routes will continue to operate, but with fewer buses on each route. The exception is on routes with the heaviest ridership; 15, 39, 5, 121, 196, 73, 110, 78, 83, and 89, which will have enough buses to help with social distancing. This adjusted plan most closely mirrors MARTA’s inclement weather plan and prioritizes service along major arterial routes and to medical facilities. The plan also allows for weekday level bus service to essential businesses. Rail service will operate on a weekend schedule but with a weekday start time of 5 a.m. Also, all Red and Gold Line trains will go to the airport, and Green Line trains will turn back at King Memorial. Due to extremely low ridership, MARTA is temporarily closing Mercedes-Benz/State Farm Arena/GWCC station. MARTA will perform deep cleaning, repair work, painting, and other small projects at the rail station during this temporary closure. Additionally, the streetcar will operate on a Sunday schedule. Updated bus and rail service information will be available on www.itsmarta.com, MARTA’s On The Go app, @MARTASERVICE on Twitter, @MARTAtransit on Facebook, digital boards throughout the system, and communicated through announcements on buses, trains, and at rail stations. Call our Customer Care Center at 404-848-5000 if you have any concerns.
By Metro Atlanta Chamber OUR COMMUNITY: NEIGHBORS HELPING NEIGHBORS In tough times, Atlanta shows up for its neighbors. Stories of unity and collaboration have been an inspiration to us all as we continue to navigate COVID-19, and ChooseATL has been capturing those stories in an effort to amplify the incredible ways our community works together when it matters most. From generous donations, volunteer efforts and innovative new approaches, Atlantans never stop rising. Many of the resources here are captured within a thread on ChooseATL’s Twitter account. We encourage you to follow along for in-the-moment updates. Businesses Goodr Combats Food Insecurity with Atlanta Public Schools Description: Goodr has joined forces with Atlanta Public Schools to provide emergency food to APS students at meal distribution sites during closure. Link: https://twitter.com/jasminecrowe/status/1238537853115797505 Truist Cares Pledges $25M To Support Those Impacted by COVID-19 Description: Truist Financial Corporation announced its Truist Cares Initiative to support the short-term and long-term needs of communities, clients and teammates in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. A pledge of $25 million in philanthropic support will aid in supporting basic needs, medical supplies and financial hardship across the nation. Link: https://media.truist.com/2020-03-17-Truist-announces-COVID-19-relief-measures-for-communities- clients-and-teammates?utm_source=MAC+Investor+List&utm_campaign=97f2a0fbd6- EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2020_03_13_03_49_COPY_05&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_316f7d4b66- 97f2a0fbd6-147502309 Kabbage Launches HelpSmallBusiness.com Description: Kabbage Inc. launched www.helpsmallbusiness.com to support small businesses financially impacted by COVID-19. The initiative is a call-to-action across the U.S., enabling anyone to purchase an online gift certificate from participating small businesses to provide them with crucial financial support. Link: https://www.kabbage.com/helpsmallbusiness The Giving Kitchen Provides Support to All Regional Food Service Workers with COVID-19 Description: Food service workers in Georgia who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and/or those who are under doctor’s orders for a mandatory quarantine should apply for financial assistance through the Giving Kitchen. Link: https://thegivingkitchen.org/help The FoodFindrUS Helps Families Find Free Food Assistance Quickly Description: The FoodFinderUS App is a safe and secure mobile web application that gives food insecure children and their families a way to find free food assistance programs quickly. Link: https://foodfinder.us/ Fox’s “The Resident” Donates Masks to Atlanta Hospitals Description: Georgia-filmed Fox series, ‘The Resident,’ donated boxes of production masks, gloves and gowns to Grady Hospital in Atlanta for their medical staff during the coronavirus pandemic. Link: https://www.projectcasting.com/news/the-resident-coronavirus/ Invest Atlanta Launches the Business Continuity Loan Fund Description: Invest Atlanta has established a Business Continuity Loan Fund (BCLF) with $1.5 million of funding from the City of Atlanta. The fund will offer small zero-interest loans to small businesses to address a lack of working capital and cash flows as a result of reduced consumer demand, the ability to fulfill product or service orders and other economic conditions. Links: https://www.investatlanta.com/business-continuity-loan-fund Staplehouse Becomes a Soup Kitchen To Support Atlanta’s Restaurant Workforce Description: Staplehouse joined forces with the Giving Kitchen to launch “The Giving Soup Kitchen” at the tasting menu restaurant on Edgewood Avenue. It’s meant to provide meals (at no cost) to out-of-work service industry workers caught in the wake of abrupt layoffs. Link: https://atlanta.eater.com/2020/3/21/21189283/staplehouse-giving-kitchen-soup-kitchen-restraurants-feed- atlanta-homeless-unused-food-covid-19 Uber Provides Discounts to Atlanta Families in Need Description: Uber announced it will offer a 25% discount for trips to and from food distribution sites until April 10. Uber passengers can use the promotional code “APS2020” to access the discount. Link: https://www.ajc.com/news/local-education/uber-offers-discount-travel-atlanta-school-food-distribution- sites/28xMi36vhTN6gZh5TQXpCJ/ White Oak Pastures Announces #RestaurantRaincheck Giveaway Description: White Oak Pastures is purchasing gift cards to local Atlanta restaurants to support them during the COVID-19 pandemic. They are giving away several $100 gift cards and are encouraging residents to support restaurants in other ways as well. Links: https://twitter.com/chooseATL/status/1240718231565893644?s=20 https://www.whiteoakpastures.com/ Six Flags Donates 1,600 Pounds of Food to Local Charity Description: Six Flags Over Georgia donated more than 1,600 lbs. of fruit, vegetables and dairy to the Center for Children & Young Adults in Marietta amid school closures and quarantines. Link: https://www.11alive.com/article/news/health/coronavirus/six-flags-donates-unused-food-charity/85- 6087c913-6412-4fd7-9a1c-00c8d1580771 UPS Provides Logistics Support to Multi-City Testing Program Description: The White House, through the Rapid-Response Taskforce for Coronavirus Testing Sites, asked UPS to assist with logistics planning and operations to support the opening and regular operation of drive-up coronavirus community-based testing sites in several cities. UPS is ready to assist with transportation support as needed for the community-based testing sites. Link: https://pressroom.ups.com/pressroom/ContentDetailsViewer.page?ConceptType=PressReleases&id=158 4390799968-421 Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian Forgoes Salary Amid Airline Cuts Description: Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian outlined a number of sweeping changes the Atlanta-based company was going to need to make in light of COVID-19. Among his announcements: Bastian will forego his own salary for six months. Link: https://www.11alive.com/article/news/health/coronavirus/delta-ceo-salary-coronavirus/85-c9424dc4-c480- 4f20-be7a-de5ad1629860 Comcast Opens Xfinity Wi-Fi Network Nationally for Free Description: Comcast is taking steps to implement the following new policies for the next 60 days, and other important initiatives: Xfinity free Wi-Fi for everyone, pausing data plans, no disconnects or late fees, news and information and 24/7 network monitoring. Link: https://corporate.comcast.com/covid-19?linkId=84300755 Georgia Power Suspends Residential Disconnections for 30 Days Description: As of March 14, 2020, Georgia Power has temporarily suspended residential disconnections for 30 days and will reevaluate the policy and time frame as the situation develops. Link: https://www.georgiapower.com/covid-19.html BlackRock Commits $50 Million to COVID-19 Relief Efforts Description: BlackRock has committed $50 million to meet the immediate needs of those most affected by the pandemic, addressing the financial hardship and social dislocation that has occurred. Link: https://www.blackrock.com/corporate/newsroom/press-releases/article/corporate-one/press-releases/our- commitment-to-people-and- communities?cid=twitter:blackrock:corporate+communications:n/a:100001197944902&linkId=100000011 338590 Mailchimp Offering Free Standard Accounts Description: To help communicate public information about COVID-19, Mailchimp is offering free standard accounts to eligible governments, schools, healthcare providers and nonprofits through June 2020. Link: https://mailchimp.com/covid19-statement/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=mc- social&utm_campaign=aoc_engage_product_gwm_channels_wld_&utm_term=&utm_content=______ Calendly Offers Free Zoom and GoToMeeting Integrations Description: Calendly is offering Zoom and GoToMeeting integrations, previously premium tier features, free of charge through June. They will also be providing free premium plan access to teams helping to address the COVID-19 crisis. Link: https://blog.calendly.com/meeting-integration- update/?utm_source=Social&utm_medium=Twitter&utm_campaign=COVID-19%20Response Atlanta Startups Using Tech To Fight Coronavirus Description: As Atlanta cases of the coronavirus continue to increase and the city encourages social distancing to fight the spread, several local startups and companies are using their tech for good to fight the virus. Link: https://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/news/2020/03/20/atlanta-startups-using-tech-to-fight- coronavirus.html?ana=brss_628 Nonprofits and Donations United Way and the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta …
By Jim Durrett, executive director, Buckhead CID Amidst the grim news that the United States surpassed China and Italy with the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, I applaud Mayor Bottoms for creating a “shelter in place” order on the City of Atlanta to reduce the spread of this highly contagious virus. I am also heartened by the fact that many of BCID’s projects fall within the “essential business” definition and will be able to continue, which ultimately will help residents and visitors when the crisis passes – hopefully sooner rather than later. Our mission at the Buckhead Community Improvement District is to create and maintain a safe, accessible and livable urban environment, and “safe” is what I want to focus on today. On March 25, the BCID board voted unanimously to approve $297,000 in funds to complement and enhance current public safety and security initiatives within the CID boundaries. The board acknowledged that with a 9% rise in property crime, coupled with the possible decrease in first responders based on the coronavirus escalation, we needed to take extra steps to ensure the safety of residents and visitors. BCID has had a long-standing partnership with the Atlanta Police Department’s (APD) Zone 2 leadership and the Atlanta Police Foundation, which is an organization that uses a public-private partnership model to help prevent and reduce crime. Since 2011, the CID has installed more than 50 cameras and 20 license plate readers in the district. However, in continued talks with these partners we agreed that increased surveillance was needed to address the rise in property crimes seen across metro Atlanta. The investment will enable the Atlanta Police Department to install seven additional pan, tilt and zoom (PTZ) security cameras and three license plate readers (LPRs), as well as six mobile, solar-powered combination camera and LPRs that will be deployed at various businesses, parking lots and strip malls. All the cameras will be integrated into the Operation Shield network, which has proven effective in quickly deploying technical assets to the police department and business community. In addition to the cameras, BCID will launch a dedicated off-duty supplemental patrol officer in an APD and BCID co-branded vehicle designed to deter crime and build community relations. The patrol, which will occur from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., six days a week within the CID boundaries, is in addition to on-duty APD patrols. Our approach to safety is holistic and in fact last year BCID provided funding for other safety and security initiatives in collaboration with Livable Buckhead. Those initiatives include the launch of a multi-pronged public safety campaign to reduce the number of car break-ins, the development of a public safety committee to improve the flow of security-related information and requests to commercial property owners to connect their private security camera to the APD’s Operation Shield network. As we hopefully come through this pandemic as quickly as possible, I feel better knowing that Buckhead will be safer and more secure than ever before.
By George Burgan, ANDPI “You must never so much think as whether you like it or not whether it is bearable or not; you must never think of anything except the need, and how to meet it.” — Clara Barton, Founder of the American Red Cross It is rare that all of humanity faces a new challenge at exactly the same time. But such is the moment we face now in the battle to treat victims of the coronavirus pandemic. While the vast majority of us are responding by physically distancing ourselves from others, there is an army of health care staff, law enforcement, first responders, and more who willingly put themselves in harm’s way to treat the afflicted. While many of us are able to work remotely, focusing on needed tasks or dealing with hefty issues of business continuity, there are many among us who are struggling for basic food, shelter, and clothing. We applaud the work of those providing emergency assistance, transitional housing, food, and more. We all have a role to play in caring for our family, our neighbors, and our community. You can help by volunteering, donating blood, delivering food, checking in on your elderly neighbors, supporting local restaurants and their furloughed workers, and more. Another way to help is to make a donation to organizations on the front lines — like The Atlanta Community Food Bank and a joint effort of The United Way of Greater Atlanta and The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. The Atlanta Community Food Bank – Addressing food insecurity is a year-round mission for ACFB. The unprecedented COVID-19 environment adds a level of complexity that can only be met with community support. ACFB is working hard to distribute food to families in the region, including 600 food distribution partners and 20+ school sites. To make a donation to ACFB, visit https://www.acfb.org/. Greater Atlanta COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund – The United Way of Greater Atlanta is partnering with the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta to provide immediate support to those most vulnerable to the economic and health-related issues caused by the coronavirus pandemic. This fund provides help with emergency assistance, health services, and additional critical needs such as childcare and food. To make a donation to this fund, visit https://www.unitedwayatlanta.org/. No matter how small the effort or donation, know that you have a role to play. On this last day of Women’s History Month, perhaps the words of Spelman alumna Marian Wright Edelman should guide us. “We must not, in trying to think about how we can make a big difference, ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.” – Marian Wright Edelman Click here for more ways you can help.
By Deron Davis, Executive Director, The Nature Conservancy We’ve never experienced a time like this before. Together with the many other organizations around the world – and all Georgians – The Nature Conservancy is actively adapting to the ever-changing reality of COVID-19 response. Through the adversity we are all facing, the Conservancy is focused on caring for our people and our mission. The most important thing we can do right now is recognize that our collective safety and security and that of those we love are paramount and take the actions necessary to limit risk and exposure. We are practicing compassion for our fellow team members so we can navigate these uncharted waters with clear, honest communication and mutual respect. Recognizing very serious public health concerns, the Conservancy has taken concerted measures to ensure the health and safety of our staff, volunteers and partners. We’ve closed our offices. Our dedicated team continues working together, remotely. We’ve canceled all conferences, meetings and other public events scheduled to take place this spring – including our beloved annual event, Wild for Georgia on April 24. It is vital for the natural resources of Georgia that The Nature Conservancy stay committed to continuity of purpose in this unprecedented time. The spring weather provides a critical window for controlled burns, a conservation practice that improves the health of Georgia’s forests and reduces the likelihood of wildfires. Conservancy prescribed fire crews have quickly reassessed their plans based on the closure of the federal lands and federal programs with whom we partner and doubled down on fire operations for State and Conservancy-owned lands. These land stewardship teams, from North Georgia to the Chattahoochee Fall Line to the coastal plain are following social distancing protocols and fulfilling our conservation mission every day. Although there is no reason to expect a traditional level of productivity, as the Conservancy land stewardship teams have demonstrated, there is every reason to expect full creativity when it comes to meeting the essential demands of our personal and professional lives. I am especially proud to see the way the foundation community has rallied to heed the call and support the many Georgians in need right now, and the way our peer organizations in the social services sector are demonstrating compassionate innovation in meeting those needs. As with so many local businesses, nonprofit organizations have been hit incredibly hard by the sudden yet necessary economic downturn. These organizations will rely on the generosity of supporters who make unrestricted gifts to their missions to ensure they have the capacity necessary to meet growing demand in a time of great need. With the continued support of our donors and partners, I am confident The Nature Conservancy in Georgia will weather this storm with wisdom and grace. Now, perhaps more than ever, I believe we need to stay in communication and open our hearts and minds to understanding how we can help each other and our communities. You can connect with The Nature Conservancy in Georgia through social media by visiting our Facebook page and our Instagram profile. There, you will find more stories to inspire and remind you of the restorative power of nature. Spring has sprung. Flowers are blooming. Getting outdoors gives pause …it calms the mind, uplifts the spirit and conditions the body. Take some time to enjoy the beauty, complexity and resilience of nature by getting outdoors if you can safely do so, or by sharing some favorite nature images, tuning into a wildlife cam, or exploring virtual nature tours. May we all remain safe and healthy…and emerge from this crisis stronger, better and brighter.
By Operation HOPE Operation HOPE announced that it has activated HOPE Inside Disaster for individuals and small businesses to receive free virtual financial recovery support in response to the nationwide economic impact of the new coronavirus, COVID-19. For more than 19 years, HOPE Inside Disaster has been the centralized arm of Operation HOPE’s national disaster and preparedness division, and one of the nation’s first lines of response for financial recovery to support individuals facing the reality of job loss, business interruption, credit issues, and debt. HOPE Inside Disaster’s free virtual financial services for those impacted by COVID-19 include: Credit education and coaching Financial disaster budget planning for individuals and families Money management education and coaching Assistance with financial disaster recovery creditor and mortgage debt deferment Guidance and assistance referrals in the following areas: – Food – Clothing – Shelter – FEMA assistance To access these services, impacted individuals and small businesses are encouraged to call the HOPE Inside Disaster hotline at 1-888-388-HOPE (4673) or visit the HOPE Inside Disaster website to be connected with a financial disaster recovery specialist who will assess their situation and provide personalized coaching and assistance. “The mandated business closures and social distancing measures meant to slow the spread of COVID-19 are already severely impacting U.S. employment and are having a catastrophic effect on the small business community and its employees. The dedicated team of counselors at HOPE Inside Disaster are prepared to help individuals and small businesses across the country navigate this crisis,” said John Hope Bryant, Founder, Chairman, and Chief Executive Officer of Operation HOPE. “Over the past 19 years, our team has helped more than 1.3 million disaster survivors with financial recovery services, and we are fully deploying our resources for those affected by the economic impacts of COVID-19.” Created following 9/11, HOPE Inside Disaster, powered by HOPE Coalition America (HCA) and Operation HOPE, is one of the leading financial emergency preparedness and recovery services in the U.S. Through partnerships with the American Red Cross, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and industry leaders, HOPE teams deploy in response to federally declared disasters to serve as a financial advocate for affected homeowners, renters, and small business owners. HOPE financial wellbeing coaches help impacted individuals and small businesses mitigate credit issues, develop emergency budget counseling, communicate with creditors, obtain Small Business Administration (SBA) loans, prevent foreclosure, and prepare for the future. Organizations that wish to provide financial or in-kind support to HOPE Inside Disaster may contact Mary Ehrsam, President of HOPE Partnerships, at 646-496-7449 or [email protected] To learn more about HOPE Inside Disaster, visit https://www.hopeinsidecovid19.org/recovery ### About Operation HOPE, Inc. Since 1992, Operation HOPE has been moving America from civil rights to “silver rights” with the mission of making free enterprise and capitalism work for the underserved—disrupting poverty for millions of low and moderate-income youth and adults across the nation. Through our community uplift model, HOPE Inside, which received the 2016 Innovator of the Year recognition by American Banker magazine, Operation HOPE has served more than 4 million individuals and directed more than $3.2 billion in economic activity into disenfranchised communities—turning check-cashing customers into banking customers, renters into homeowners, small business dreamers into small business owners, minimum wage workers into living wage consumers, and uncertain disaster victims into financially empowered disaster survivors. Project 5117 is our multi-year four-pronged approach to combating economic inequality that aims to improve financial literacy, increase business role models and business internships for youth in underserved communities, and stabilize the American dream by boosting FICO scores. Operation HOPE recently received its fourth consecutive 4-star charity rating for fiscal management and commitment to transparency and accountability by the prestigious non-profit evaluator, Charity Navigator. For more information: www.OperationHOPE.org. Follow Operation HOPE on Twitter and Facebook @operationhope Contact Caryn Anderson (678) 428.9330 [email protected]
By Charles Redding, MedShare CEO & President In just a matter of weeks, coronavirus has changed all of our lives in ways that we never would have thought possible. Life as we know it has been turned on its head. As we’re adapting to social distancing and shelter-in-place orders, we’re all having to make rapid adjustments in everything that we do. Responding quickly in times of need is something that MedShare has a good amount of experience doing. Our Disaster Relief program is designed to provide medical supplies and equipment to communities where there are gaps in infrastructure or lack of access to critical supplies needed to support recovery from catastrophic events. We work with partners throughout the year to pre-position supplies in our warehouse so that we are equipped to respond quickly when the need arises. When the World Health Organization declared coronavirus a global health emergency on January 30th, we were able to work with our partners to respond within days to provide several shipments of masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) to support medical personnel fighting coronavirus in China. Our efforts were focused on providing relief at the epicenter of the outbreak to help manage and limit the spread. However, now that the epicenter has shifted and confirmed cases are increasing rapidly in the U.S., we’ve adjusted the focus of our relief efforts to healthcare providers and community clinics here in the U.S. Support of local community clinics is an important aspect of the work that we do. Community clinics address a vital need by providing healthcare to underserved populations. Over the last few weeks, we’ve been partnering to provide critically-needed PPE and other medical supplies to these community clinics and other nonprofit organizations as they work to contain the spread of coronavirus amongst the populations they serve. While supporting local clinics is part of the work we do every day, what is new for us is the donation of supplies to hospitals. Typically, hospitals donate surplus supplies to us throughout the year. In the midst of the coronavirus outbreak, hospitals are being overloaded, and there’s a tremendous need for PPE, including N95 masks, surgical and procedure masks, gloves, gowns, and caps, as well as ventilators. In response to this need, we’ve been partnering with hospitals in the Atlanta and New York metropolitan areas and the San Francisco Bay Area to donate PPE and equipment that they so desperately need to treat patients and protect the healthcare workers who are battling coronavirus on the frontlines. We recognize that these are unprecedented times and that we all need to adapt to find ways to support those who need us the most. The challenge is great, but by working together, we can ensure that we’re getting resources where they can be most effectively deployed to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
By Kate Sweeney So, you’re working at home. And maybe you have everything you need to do it right: your ergonomic chair, your well-lit home office, and your robot nanny bringing you fresh lattes. Or maybe you’re like many of us and find yourself a little stressed by how teleworking is turning out during the Covid-19 pandemic. The What’s Next ATL podcast, produced by the Atlanta Regional Commission, is here for you. In the latest episode, we talk with Roz Tucker, who works with Georgia Commute Options, which is dedicated to getting cars off the road at peak travel times in metro Atlanta by supporting commute alternatives. And we talked about just how to do this telecommuting thing in less-than-ideal conditions. What’s Next ATL wants to know how teleworking is going for you. If you find yourself working from home these days, share your favorite teleworking photos on social, tagging @atlantaregional on Twitter or @planatlanta on Instagram. Use the hashtag #teleworkinginATL.
By Dentons United States COVID-19 (Coronavirus) hub: As COVID-19 continues to develop in the US and globally, governments, industries, and clients continue to adapt to the emerging challenges. Dentons has formed a multi-disciplinary COVID-19/Pandemic Client Special Situations Team (PSST) in the US to facilitate, accelerate and proactively support client service. Our full team can be found here. Stay up-to-date with all of our insights and guidance by visiting our US COVID-19 hub here and sign up for future alerts and events here. Recent update: State election and voting changes/updates As COVID-19 spreads throughout the country, large gatherings and group activities have increasingly been altered, postponed or cancelled altogether. The voting process is no different. After several states delayed primaries, there has been continued preparation for the possibility that the 2020 presidential election season will look vastly different than normal. The Dentons team, along with our Dentons 50 partners, will continue to track elections developments throughout the year. Click here for a state by state overview of the next planned election, mail-in voting status and COVID-19 specific updates.
By Lita Pardi, interim vice president, Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta Over recent weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we live, work and connect with each other. News changes daily, if not by the minute. It’s a scary, uncertain time, particularly for the most vulnerable in our region: Children who face food insecurity or lack access to technology to keep current on their education while schools are closed Seniors who have no access to meals The uninsured, low-wage workers And those in the hospitality or service industries and gig economy workers who have just received their last paycheck. What began as a health crisis has become a full-blown economic crisis. Our regional disparity is even more stark in these dire times. Alongside that darkness, there is light. There are so many in our region who want to help. As strong nonprofits are on the frontlines serving our most vulnerable residents, some are nimble to shift operations and programs for an emergency response. If you would like to help, here are five ways to make an impact today: Give. The Community Foundation and United Way of Greater Atlanta launched the Greater Atlanta COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund to support the nonprofits that are helping those most impacted by the coronavirus now, especially those most vulnerable to economic and health-related issues caused by the pandemic. The fund has received tremendous corporate and family foundation support and has already awarded more than $4 million in grants for short-term, critical needs. This funding will continue to roll out in the coming weeks and months. More details, including grant recipients, can be found here. To give, go here. Support nonprofits directly, especially those that you have supported in the past. Many nonprofits are rocked by canceled fundraisers and shuttered performances. You can give a one-time grant, or even better, sign up for regular monthly gifts for the rest of the year if you are able. Buy a subscription or gift certificate to your favorite arts organization. If you purchased a ticket to a performance that has been canceled, instead of asking for a refund, consider the ticket cost a donation to the organization. Advocate on behalf of nonprofits. Did you know that the Georgia nonprofit sector employs over 10% of the private workforce in our state? Stay tuned to our blog to learn how to raise your voice as the $2 trillion federal stimulus is implemented in Georgia and how you can advocate for other needs. Talk to others. In this time of social distancing, some may feel they’re facing this burden alone. And if your heart and passion lies with a certain cause or nonprofit organization you may feel like you can’t have an impact. Reach out to friends or colleagues in your network who share those same passions for your cause. Talk about ways you could make a collective gift, or even make a commitment (and put it on the calendar) to participate in a volunteer day later in the year when our current restrictions are eased. Our region’s spirit of generosity is so important, now more than ever.
By Emory University Emory doctors have helped create a new online tool allowing people everywhere to assess how likely it is that they have contracted the novel coronavirus. C19check.com makes it easy for the general public to self-triage and is designed, in part, to prevent a surge of patients at hospitals and healthcare facilities. The free tool was designed by Vital software with guidance from Emory Department of Emergency Medicine’s Health DesignED Center and the Emory Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response. The site is for educational purposes and not a replacement for a healthcare provider evaluation. “We’re all fighting, in ways big and small, to keep our loved ones out of harm’s reach. But the anxiety and uncertainty around the best way to do that can result in crowded emergency departments that will have difficulty managing the surge,” says Justin Schrager, emergency medicine physician at Emory University Hospital and co-founder of Vital. “Our goal with C19check.com is to prevent that from happening, while also making it super simple for people to understand and follow CDC guidelines.” C19check.com acts as an easy way to digest expert information and choose the best plan of action. Based on the answers to questions about signs and symptoms, age and other medical problems, a person is directed to guidance based on CDC guidelines and is placed into one of three categories: high risk (needs immediate medical attention), intermediate risk (can contact their doctor for guidance about how to best manage their illness), low risk (can most likely administer self-care or recover at home). In any case, the person is never dissuaded from seeking professional medical advice or contacting their healthcare provider for more guidance. “Doctors know that crowded waiting rooms could make the problem worse because people sick with Covid-19 could infect others, speeding the overall rate of infection,” says Dr. Alex Isakov, executive director of Emory University Office of Critical Event Preparedness and Response, and co-author of the SORT algorithm. “Keeping stress off the system and limiting exposure for at-risk populations is going to be key to managing the community spread of COVID-19.” The site is live and will be available for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency. It was built as a public service and is completely free. It is available on any computer, and can be used by medical professionals or lay people. It collects no personal information. It makes the company no money. Users can opt to share a zip code to contribute to research tracking the geographic spread and eventual recovery from the pandemic. “We designed this tool as a way for the public to have something user friendly and evidence based to assess their risk and help guide them to the necessary next steps,” says Dr. Anna Quay Yaffee, assistant professor of emergency medicine and director of Global Health in Emergency Medicine Section at Emory University School of Medicine. “We want people who are low risk to have some cautious reassurance, and those who are at higher risk to know how to seek care and get more information.” “The goal of this tool is to empower individuals, to better understand CDC guidance, and help to inform them about whether they should stay at home, seek medical care or go to the hospital,” says Dr. David Wright, chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Emory University School of Medicine. “We understand the public is concerned about the pandemic, about their signs and symptoms. They want guidance and we built this as a resource to help guide their actions, with easy to use, accessible information.” About C19check.com The site, built at Emory’s Health DesignED Center with Dr. Alex Isakov, executive director of Emory CEPAR, and co-author of the SORT algorithm; and Dr. David Wright, chair of the Emory Emergency Department; Dr. Anna Quay Yaffee, assistant professor of emergency medicine and director of Global Health in Emergency Medicine Section at Emory University School of Medicine; and Dr. Justin Schrager, emergency medicine physician at Emory University Hospital. It is powered by Vital, launched last year to help offset the already overloaded work of Emergency Departments. Founded by Dr. Justin Schrager and Aaron Patzer, founder of Mint.com. With the rise of COVID-19, Justin and Aaron foresaw an overload of ERs worldwide, sought a tool to help patients better self-triage before burdening hospitals, and found none. They diverted all of Vital’s resources into building C19check.com, tapped world-renowned clinical experts to help, and hope that the tool will both help alleviate the mounting burden on the global healthcare system, and aid researchers in tracking the spread and evolution of the pandemic over time.
By Frank Brown, Esq. CEO, Communities in Schools of Atlanta CIS Atlanta is proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our students, families, and school staff as metro Atlanta deals with the impact of COVID-19. As we enter week two of remote learning for metro Atlanta students, it is more clear than ever that supplemental organizations like ours are critical to student achievement and to providing faculty support to public school administrators. At CIS Atlanta, our first priority is to reduce parents’ and caregivers’ stress by making sure their children can maintain a strong educational foundation. But we recognize the stress of struggling to make ends meet is felt by the entire household. In metro Atlanta, 16,000 children live in poverty. Thousands more are not far from it. In ordinary times, our case managers and site coordinators daily address challenges such as ensuring the children we serve have clean clothes, helping them with transportation, tutoring and much more. In just a week’s time, we are already seeing the financial impact of coronavirus on their parents and caregivers. Some have been laid off, others have had their hours reduced. Many are trying to determine how to turn a penny into fifteen cents. A precarious situation has become even more severe in the face of a pandemic and global economic crisis. While a stay on evictions and foreclosures placed will guarantee a roof over families’ heads for a few more weeks, we know landlords and banks will come calling once the stay is lifted. We are working to provide rental assistance and utility bill support for when the bill collectors come knocking. Of the 30,000 children we serve, 86 percent are on free or reduced lunch. Our site coordinators are supporting emergency food distribution centers across the region to deliver healthy, hot meals and ensure no child goes hungry while schools remain closed. When the school closures were announced, our staff immediately worked with the school districts and social workers to gather learning materials for homeless students whose families are in extended-stay motels. They check in daily with students to ensure they’re logged in to teleclass and continuing their education. There’s an old saying in the African-American community that when America gets a cold, Black folks get pneumonia. Well, when it comes to the poor, the impact of a national crisis is compounded. As grateful as I am that our staff has quickly risen to the occasion, I can’t help but be frustrated by the circumstances we find ourselves in – even before coronavirus. As a country, as a state, and as a metro region, we must ask ourselves if the values we say we subscribe to are reflected in our public policies and the wellbeing of our residents. Why is it that so many Atlanta children go hungry when the doors of the school are not open, if not for the philanthropic community? How can it be that parents working full-time only have enough money to focus on the absolute essentials, meaning children cannot participate in character-building activities outside of the classroom? In “Utopia for Realists,” historian Rutger Bregman writes, “Scarcity consumes you. You’re less able to focus on other things that are also important to you.” Research shows scarcity has the same impact on your brain as a bad night’s sleep or even excessive alcohol intake. Imagine trying to pull yourself up by the bootstraps when you wake up every morning with severe brain fog. To get the kids ready for school, to show up to work on time, to come home and help with homework. Imagine trying to focus on math and language arts when you’re not sure if mom has enough money this month to keep you and your siblings together under one roof. While we are undoubtedly in the early stages of experiencing the economic and social impacts of coronavirus, now is the time for us to come together – even as we remain physically apart – and put our collective time and talents into ensure metro Atlanta’s poor and working-class families can survive what is to come and the new normal that lies ahead. The 30,000 children we serve each have something to offer society. CIS Atlanta is going to do everything we can to stand up for them and their families during this difficult time. We invite you to stand with us. To learn more about our work and to support our efforts, please visit https://www.cisatlanta.org. Photo caption: Frank Brown and CIS Atlanta Site Coordinator, Jarrett Smith packing lunch bags for Clayton County students.