Many local businesses have been forced to shut their doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but there are still ways they can help frontline health workers.
Corey Ranger is a registered nurse who works in Victoria’s downtown area servicing the homeless and the vulnerable, and he says one way businesses can help is by donating any masks and gloves they aren’t using, since frontline workers are having trouble accessing any of these pieces of personal protective equipment.
“We have some supplies … and we’ve reached out to BC Housing for more but they are backlogged,” he explained.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, things have gone from bad to worse for the homeless after many shelters and all city parks have closed, forcing more people onto the streets and living in crowded situations.
In addition to this, Victoria’s illicit drug supply has been compromised by border closures, forcing many people living with addictions to take more risks when making purchases.
“They’re the ones at risk of being infected; many have pre-existing conditions, no access to clean water, soap or hand sanitizer … the risk is rising so much,” Ranger said.
In addition to this, many frontline street workers are currently responding to situations without proper equipment including masks. Ranger pointed out that if a health care worker is reviving someone who has overdosed using a bag valve mask, that the piece of equipment aerosolizes any viruses the victim might be carrying.
“If the responder doesn’t have an N95 mask, then they’re exposed.”
Ranger has put out a plea to businesses such as nail and hair salons, restaurants and bars to consider donating any gloves and masks they aren’t presently using.
“I want to impress the need to the community that now is the time to help,” Ranger said.
Anyone who would like to donate can contact Ranger at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact their local harm reduction of homelessness service agency.