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Previous posts in this series (I will try not to repeat material):
As a few of us have been getting things in place prior to a "shelter in place" order possibly coming to North Carolina, two groups of people in our broader Mutual Aid network really stand out to me. These are the folks who will be out there, doing what they do, especially if we see hell and high water.
The first is Food Not Bomb, "FNB". A circle based in Chapel Hill is doing Saturday meal curbside at Nightlight (405 1/2 West Rosemary Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27516) as well as delivering food and supplies as they are able. The Durham FNB circle is starting up weekly meal deliveries to McDougald residents. These are folks on the front lines, taking risks for the most vulnerable in our community. To offer or request material support, see their online form. To help them fill in the gaps and pay for gas, send them cash on Venmo. You can also contact them by email.
The other group of people for whom I am infinitely grateful is our street medic team. These folks continue to grow in numbers, to pull in folks from trained current and former EMTs, nurses, physicians assistants as well as many folks without formal training willing to learn and put what they know into action. Think of it like wilderness medicine with a healthy bit of urban punk stirred in. These are the first folks to show up behind the lines after a hurricane, flood, after a mass protest is met with state violence, or in your neighborhood when every other possible medical resource is utterly overwhelmed during a pandemic. As one of these good people pointed out to me the other day, this current crisis is pushing a lot of people with medical needs further away from accessing the resources they need, as hospitals and clinics batten down the hatches and brace for tidal wave of respiratory cases.
At least a few people in the grassroots Mutual Aid circles are participating in the fascinating 3D-printing of medical supplies. I believe transparent face shields are the current focus, or at least were when I last looked. Unlike the homemade cloth face masks, which apparently are not nearly as effective as the medical type, the printed shields appear to be good enough for hospital use.
Our county sheriffs are getting poor marks from what I hear. Although the judicial system is on skeleton crew and no new eviction orders are being litigated, those already "in the pipeline" are up to local law enforcement discretion. As of a few days ago, it appears the Durham sheriff was continuing to put people out on the streets, an infuriating circumstance for many local advocates. In Orange County the sheriff has made no formal statement on the issue, but as far as we can tell there are currently no remaining eviction orders to be enforced.
Speaking of bad actors, today there was a fair amount of criticism of the Chapel Hill Whole Foods. Employees there tell me there have been at least one worker test positive for COVID-19, who may have been working in very close quarters in the "prime shoppers" room. The person is no longer working there (since the 6th?) but Whole Foods may not yet have formerly notified other employees or taken the sort of temporary closure and decontamination steps some people feel would be prudent. Many people tell me the paid leave policies at the store do not allow workers to self-quarantine prior to an official test and retain their livelihood.
As of today, the Mutual Aid / Democratic Socialists of America small-grants program has well over $20,000 on its way to triangle residents impacted through job loss, loss of work hours, unexpected travel do to university and colleges closing, etc. The need we are hearing, unfortunately, is much higher yet, so the fundraising continues.
And all the little things. A friend, stuck at home wanting to bake some bread tells me baking yeast is unavailable in the stores. Schools are now closed, state-wide, until May 15. Just kidding—for parents, that's actually not a small thing. Sanity is being pushed to the wall.