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“These are unprecedented times,” Anacortes Mayor Laurie Gere said Monday about COVID-19 and its effect on daily life.

Businesses, schools, churches and gatherings are temporarily closed by order of Gov. Jay Inslee. Washingtonians are ordered to stay home, except to do essential activities or to work at essential businesses.

Gere said the number of cases will get worse before it gets better. But we’ll get through it, she said, if everybody does their part.

Here are some ways Anacortes residents and businesses are helping their neighbors during the COVID-19 pandemic.

FACE-TO-FACE: Local adult care and independent living centers are making it possible for residents without computers to talk face-to-face with loved ones via Facebook Messenger, Facetime and Skype. This service is provided in the wake of temporary visitation restrictions imposed by Gov. Inslee to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among the older population. Older residents and those with compromised immune systems are believed to be most vulnerable to the virus.

REACHING OUT: There are numerous reports of residents reaching out to neighbors to ensure they have what they need during the COVID-19 pandemic. One resident of Blakely Drive near Clearidge posted a notice in his neighborhood offering to do grocery runs and other errands for neighbors. “My kids and I would like to check in on you and make sure you’re doing okay … We know the coronavirus is scary, so we will help you with anything. Just know you’re not alone.”

A group coordinated by Dick Mathis of Sheely’s Floral & Gifts regularly checks on seniors and takes food to those who need it, City Councilman Anthony Young reported. “We check in on people who we know are alone or are afraid to venture out” because of the COVID-19 virus, Young said.

And to comply with restrictions on people gathering, volunteers are signing up for a time slot when they can go to the basement of Westminster Presbyterian Church, don gloves and assemble five Food To Go backpacks and deliver them, according to volunteer Bonnie Bowers, a former police chief who now serves on the port commission. Food To Go Anacortes is a weekend backpack food program that provides healthy supplemental weekend meals for children who otherwise might not get proper nutrition over the weekend.

A SIMPLE GESTURE: A Simple Gesture, which collects food donations on a monthly basis for distribution to the Salvation Army Food Bank and local food pantries, doesn’t have another pickup scheduled until April 11. But that hasn’t stopped people from giving now to help fellow residents who may be running short on food. “People have called and asked, ‘Can I bring food early?’,” said Sue Monaghan, director of A Simple Gesture. Island Internal Medicine is among the recent corporate food donors. Local Girl Scouts donated 45 boxes of cookies.

STORYTIME ONLINE: The Anacortes Public Library is closed, but children can go to the library website (www.anacorteswa.gov/1165/Childrens-Events) for online storytime events — including book readings by noted actors and other celebrities.

Also available on the website: TumbleBookLbibrary, an online collection of animated, talking picture books; Teen Book Cloud, an eBook database for students in grades 7-12; Tumble Math, featuring math picture books, lesson plans and quizzes; Kids Edition, which provides a kids’ eye view of daily life in countries around the world; Culturegrams Kids, which shows how people really live in the U.S. and around the world; Washington Anytime Library for Kids, with kid-friendly downloadable ebooks and audiobooks; and a kid-friendly version of Overdrive, where children can browse and download a collection of thousands of children’s titles for Kindle, Nook, Ipad or other ereader devices.

STAYING IN TOUCH AND INFORMED: Several churches are providing worship services online. Service clubs, too, are using the internet to bring people together. Members of the local Kiwanis Club, for example, will meet at noon March 26 via Zoom, an online meeting platform. Kiwanian Eric Johnson, a former Anacortes City Council member, said the guest will be Mayor Laurie Gere, “who will provide her perspective of life in the city in a time of COVID-19.”

HELP FOR WORKERS: The state Employment Security Department has a constantly-updated list of programs and benefits for workers affected by COVID-19. Go to https://esd.wa.gov/newsroom/covid-19

SCAM WARNING: Banks are warning residents to be aware of scams. “Attackers are sending phishing emails impersonating the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO), using misinformation (false statements or facts) to trick recipients into clicking malicious links or opening attachments,” HomeStreet Bank wrote to its customers. “As always regarding email you receive, inspect the email address to verify who the sender is, and exercise caution before clicking on links or opening attachments. HomeStreet Bank will never ask you for your personal information or log in credentials in an email or text message.”

— This is not an all-inclusive list. If you have an item you'd like to add to this story, email Anacortes American reporter Richard Walker at rwalker@goanacortes.com.

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