A united response to the coronavirus

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As the number of COVID-19 cases rise locally, officials from Monroe County, the United Way of Greater Rochester and the Rochester Area Community Foundation are coordinating efforts to provide a ballast for the community.

RACF and the United Way have established a Community Crisis Fund, a centralized funding pool, to assist nonprofits disproportionately impacted by the epidemic. The funds will be useful to address economic consequences, future emergencies, and community and organizational recovery. The initiative will attempt to meet the immediate needs of economically vulnerable populations impacted by closures related to the coronavirus outbreak.

The United Way has established an online portal, directing volunteers and donations, and offering guidance to nonprofits. The agency lists opportunities to lend a hand to organizations working with communities impacted by the spread of the virus. 

The portal offers guidelines for volunteers such as following public recommendations, social distancing and limiting group sizes for such efforts. The site also lists virtual volunteering options, including participation in online groups and other tools to stay connected with coworkers, friends and families.

As of March 16, there were 11 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Monroe County. Rochester Regional Health and University of Rochester facilities have instituted visitor restrictions and screening policies in coordination with the Monroe County Health Department. Both health systems are offering COVID-19 testing.

Over the weekend, UR Medicine said it has begun to reschedule some patient appointments to redeploy resources to meet acute-care needs at its hospitals, clinics and physician offices. These measures will be re-evaluated toward the end of the month.

“As the area’s largest health system, it’s our job to support those actions while preparing to provide care for all patients who may need it as the number of COVID-19 cases rises despite our best efforts,” said Michael Apostolakos, chief medical officer at the UR Medical Center.

UR Medicine does not plan to close its physician offices, outpatient surgery centers and other facilities.

As one of five NIH Centers of Excellence in Influenza Research and Surveillance, URMC is actively involved in the worldwide response to the disease.

Smriti Jacob is Rochester Beacon managing editor.

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