A faith-based aid group has deployed members across Greater Washington to help Fairfax residents cope with economic difficulties due to the worsening COVID-19 pandemic.

When authorities in the region started declaring stay-at-home orders one after another, it was a ‘call for arms’ for the Salvation Army, a protestant church and charitable organization with some 1.7 million members around the world.

In Fairfax County, Virginia, the sort of help that it offers includes curbside groceries. All that the applicants need to do to collect them is call (703) 385-8700 at extension 10 to set a pickup time. A total of 120 families already did that in the last week of March.

“We anticipate that more families will be coming to us. We project we’re going to be feeding for a few more weeks or a few more months,” says Maj. Jean Wilson, an officer for the organization’s local branch, in an April 1st report. Recipients get fresh produce as well as canned vegetables, meat and other basic nutrients.

 

Growing Health Emergency Begets More Donations in Fairfax

When the U.S. reported its first case of the novel coronavirus infection in late January, few sounded alarm about an imminent health emergency nationwide. Two months later, the worsening outbreak forced school closures and sent almost every student around the country home. And today, after two more weeks, there are only a few states that haven’t yet issued a stay-at-home order and closed all non-essential businesses.

As necessary as they are, those measures are wreaking havoc across many industries. An all-time-high 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits in the week that ended on March 28th. Predictions as to the overall damage to the national economy range from a trillion dollars to as much as a dozen times more. The wild variation in the estimates reflects the uncertainty about when the outbreak will be over.

In this context, Salvation Army is making preparations according to the worst-case scenario. “We anticipate the need is going to be great before it subsides and we hate to turn anyone away,” says Wilson.

To do that, however, the organization will need more donations. “We rely on donors. We would love to get a grant from some foundation so that we could do an even larger-scale assistance.”

Covid-19 is a respiratory illness caused by the highly contagious novel coronavirus. In severe cases, it affects patients’ lungs, impacting their ability to breathe. First reported in China in December last year, the illness has claimed some 75,000 lives in just over four months. According to a Reuters tally, there were some 500 cases and one death in Fairfax County as of April 7th. Nationwide, the number of cases neared 400,000 and deaths surpassed the grim milestone of 10,000 in the U.S.