The last several weeks have felt like something out of a Ray Bradbury novella. Canceled events, abandoned streets, closed restaurants, a bizarre toilet paper shortage, and, on top of it all, widespread anxiety and uncertainty.
As a small business owner and avid sewist, I have been thinking a lot about how the current pandemic will affect us all socially and economically. However, something you probably don’t know about me is that I have a master’s degree in Public Health, and, before I founded The Confident Stitch, I was a public health administrator in Helena, Montana for 25 years. While the circumstances are not ideal, I find that my previous and current careers are converging in an interesting way. It’s time to talk about public health, COVID-19, and The Confident Stitch.
Finding accurate public health information is always a challenge. Whenever I need up-to-date and accurate information about any public health issue, I first go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) websites. Both the CDC and WHO are updating the COVID-19 links above as new information becomes available.
According to the CDC, the COVID-19 pandemic is the first non-influenza pandemic in the past century, so the agency doesn’t know exactly what to expect. A pandemic is a global outbreak of a disease. Here is what CDC does know:
- The virus seems to be spreading easily in the community in some geographic areas in California, Washington, and New York.
- It is spread from person to person through cough or sneeze droplets. Standing six-feet away from other people is a good way to avoid the spray of others’ droplets.
- Individuals with COVID-19 are most contagious when they are sickest. They may spread the disease when they’re not feeling sick, but that’s not the main way the disease is spread.
- People touching virus-infected surfaces and then touching their mouths could possibly spread the virus, but this is not the main way the virus spreads.
- As of today (3/18/20), the CDC says: “The complete clinical picture with regard to COVID-19 is not fully known. Reported illnesses have ranged from very mild (including some with no reported symptoms) to severe, including illness resulting in death. While information so far suggests that most COVID-19 illness is mild, a report out of China suggests serious illness occurs in 16% of cases. Older people and people of all ages with severe chronic medical conditions — like heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes, for example — seem to be at higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 illness.”
What TCS is doing to prevent the spread of COVID-19
For our employees:
- All TCS employees will stay home if they feel ill, assured that they won’t lose their jobs.
- TCS will provide sick leave pay to any employee with COVID-19.
- All TCS employees are washing their hands even more often than usual.
For our customers who want to come into the store:
UPDATE as of March 21, 2020: Our storefront will be closed until further notice. Our online store will remain open, and we recommend signing up for a complimentary Virtual Shopping Session for those looking for a one-on-one, in-store experience.
- Because COVID-19 is NOT easily spread from person, to surface, to another person, we will remain open. At this time of year, we rarely have more than one or two customers at a time in the store, so it will be easy for everyone to remain at least six-feet apart.
- We are using Clorox wipes on all countertops, credit card processors, keyboards, sewing machines, and door knobs multiple times a day.
For our online customers and/or locals who aren’t comfortable coming into the store:
UPDATE as of April 15, 2020: We are no longer offering curbside pickup or doorstep delivery.
- Our website is always available. We promise to wash our hands before cutting your fabrics!
- You can order online, select “local pickup,” and we’ll take your bag out to your car if you give us a call when you’re at the shop.
- We’ve started a new local delivery service and, starting this week, every Friday we can drive your purchases to your home if you live in any of these zip codes: 59801, 59802, 59803, 59804, 59806, 59807, 59808 and 59812. Orders for the delivery service can be placed over the phone or online. Just select local pick-up and leave a request for home delivery in the comment section!
- Not all of our elastics, zippers, and threads are currently listed on the website, so if you’re in search of anything, call us (406-540-4068) and we’ll complete your order over the phone!
How to Help Those Less Fortunate
The Confident Stitch’s mission is “To empower people through sewing.” How can we do that during this pandemic? By supporting people in our community who are living on the edge.
We called the Missoula Food Bank, and here is what they need (I’m sure the food bank in your community is in need of the same things):
- More volunteers to sanitize products, and create ready-to-go boxes for different family sizes.
- Financial contributions.
- Food donations.
Additionally, Missoula’s Poverello Homeless Shelter sent an email listing the help they need:
- Financial contributions.
- Food and cleaning supply contributions (no home-baked foods).
- Soup kitchen volunteers who are healthy and low-risk for COVID-19.
Keep Calm and Be Respectful
There are a lot of funny memes about introverts and sewers welcoming social distancing, and I appreciate them. Don’t forget, however, that some of your neighbors are ill with COVID-19, and others don’t have the luxury of a comfortable house full of food for the next two weeks. Though this is a time to take care of yourself, it is also a time to think of those less fortunate or more at risk than yourself. The way to get through this is by taking science-based precautions, and helping others when we can. Thank you!