Covid-19 Resources, Tips & Info (Updated Regularly)

Here’s the truth: we’re as nervous and unsure about what lays ahead as anyone, but we’re sticking together, supporting one another and doing our part to stay positive and be a resource to anyone who may need. As part of that effort, we’ve realigned many of our priorities and as a company are focused on being a reliable, calm and steady resource for information and support. Yes, we’re a home builder, and our production schedule is still in full force for a happy and productive spring and summer… BUT, there’s more we can do during this time of shared commiseration, and we’re not ones to sit around idled.

So, we’re using this blog post as the one-stop hub of info that we uncover, including helpful resources, tips and anything else we find to be a helpful distraction. We’ll update this weekly (at least), and if you find something that should be included, please send it to Ben at benjamin@verityhomes.com and he’ll get it added.

Life will be disrupted for a period, giving us opportunities to be human and to be good humans and to help your neighbor and each other.  Time to slow down and re-discover what it is like to be an American.  Fortunately, we are in the best country in the world to go through something like this.  Take pride in that and do your part.   

For now, we urge you to join us in staying calm and positive.  Take this time to fall back in love with your spouse.  To bond with your children, pets, or to pick up that hobby you dropped years ago.  Take a walk and get some fresh air and sunlight.  Get plenty of sleep and rest.  Meditation can help calm your mind.  I encourage you to practice it daily.  Drink plenty of water.  Be socially responsible and follow the recommendations of the CDC and local/state/fed for social separation and wellness.   

Together, we will find the delicate balance between economic, moral, and ethical responsibilities. You are part of the Verity Homes family. We are here to help along the way. Just ask 🙂

Financial Resources

  • Two weeks after the first one was published, LendEDU’s second Coronavirus survey of 1,000 adult Americans also found that more consumers have dipped into their savings to cover expenses, while recent student loan changes may be helping.
  • Check on the status of your Economic Impact Payment: The IRS is committed to helping you get your Economic Impact Payment as soon as possible. The payments, also referred to by some as stimulus payments, are automatic for most taxpayers. No further action is needed by taxpayers who filed tax returns in 2018 and 2019 and most seniors and retirees. Click here to check your status: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/economic-impact-payments
  • Excel Template: Excel Template is giving free access to its Stimulus Check Calculator for people to calculate the amount of money they are eligible to receive from the government coronavirus stimulus. 
  • For employees who have been laid off get your claim filed for unemployment insurance immediately. If the automated system denies the person for eligibility, they should file an appeal as the system continues to be updated to meet the new requirements for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Daily updated FAQ sheet can be found here
  • For self-employed business, independent contracts and gig-economy workers, the unemployment system is being updated with the hopes of having it online this week so these North Dakotans can file under Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Daily updated FAQ sheet can be found here.  
  • All businesses should contact their lender immediately to inform them of their interest in exploring options for relief through the Small Business Administration so they are in the queue. Funds to assist with payroll, employee health insurance, rent and utilities will be made available by the SBA through local lenders with no fees paid by the business. Businesses may be eligible for additional loans, which their lenders are all being educated on this week. Again, they should contact their local lender for assistance. Here is the Dept of Commerce’s COVID Resource page .
  • Covid-19 frequently asked questions andadditional resources available along with fact based information.  https://ndresponse.gov/covid-19-resources/covid-19-faqs
  • The government has set up Benefits.gov, which walks users through various options for benefits and relief during the coronavirus outbreak. The site even has a questionnaire aimed at helping users find which benefits apply to them. 
  • For those that have lost their job, the Department of Labor offers unemployment benefits, which could include extra disaster unemployment assistance. 
  • The U.S. Small Business Association is prepared to help small business and non-profit owners affected by the viral outbreak, offering loans with low interest for up to $2 million in 30 states and Washington D.C. 
  • Tipped and service workers have the option to turn to One Fair Wage if they’ve been affected by the coronavirus. 
  • CORE, an organization dedicated to providing resources and support to food and beverage service employees with young ones at home, is offering financial assistance to individuals that have tested positive for COVID-19. Medical documentation is required 
  • Restaurants Care currently has grants available for those diagnosed with coronavirus, their caregivers and their immediate family members. 
  • The Bartender Emergency Assistance Program is offering grants to bartenders or their children that “lack the necessities of life” in times of crisis. 
  • The National Domestic Workers Alliance is in high gear and has set up a fund for in-home workers such as nannies and home cleaners.
  • Fannie Mae mortgage forbearance, etc. info on deferred or other options to delay or extend mortgage payments – https://www.knowyouroptions.com/covid19assistance 
  • IT/Computer protection:  https://petracoach.com/the-four-steps-your-company-must-take-to-ensure-your-data-is-protected/
  • FDIC Banking FAQ’s – https://www.fdic.gov/coronavirus/faq-customer.pdf
  • SBA Loans Resource Page – https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources
  • If you’re a restaurant worker struggling financially as a result of the coronavirus, help is on the way. Guy Fieri teamed up with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation to launch the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund. The campaign associated with the fund will raise money to give one-time $500 grants to impacted workers as soon as April. To donate or apply, go to https://rerf.us/
  • Job Service of North Dakota is now able to accept online claims from independent contractors, gig economy workers, self-employed individuals, and workers who may have exhausted the benefits available to them under the regular Unemployment Insurance system.
  • Stimulus checks from the federal government are on the way. Click here to get the details.

Health & Fitness 

DOWNLOAD: AT HOME HEALTH & FITNESS SURVIVAL GUIDE (1)
We’re lucky to have TWO members of the Verity Homes team that are also personal trainers and health & fitness experts. Jeff Davis put together the above exhaustive guide to working out at home… while all the gyms are closed!

Entertainment

  • HBO: Beginning Friday, April 3, HBO will be making 500 hours of programming available for free via HBO Now and HBO GO. You don’t need a subscription. Series include “Six Feet Under,” “The Sopranos,” “True Blood,” “Veep,” “The Wire.” Documentaries like “The Apollo,” “I Love You, Now Die,” “United Skates” and movies such as “Isn’t It Romantic,” “Detective Pikachu” and lots more. Viewers will need to download the HBO NOW or HBO GO apps or visit HBONOW.com or HBOGO.com.
  • SiriusXM: SiriusXM has made its 300-plus channel streaming service available for free in North America through May 15. The free package includes all ad-free music channels, live news, faith-based content, comedy, sports talk, politics, and on-demand content. Starting today, a new #StayHome Radio channel will play “happy, feel-good music” from artists like Lizzo and Coldplay to Pink and Bob Marley, SiriusXM said. Anyone who’s not already a SiriusXM subscriber can download the SiriusXM app or go to SiriusXM.com/streamfree, and start listening free of charge, with no credit card or commitment required.
  • Amazon.com: Audible launched a free collection of audiobooks for children that can be streamed on users’ desktops, laptops, phones, and tablets. Amazon’s Kindle is offering two free months to its unlimited e-book service to new users.
  • We’re all stuck at home right now, separated from family and friends. Here are two awesome resources full of ideas for “Virtual Game Nights”

At Work

  • LinkedIn: Employees who are now working from home can access 16 of LinkedIn’s online learning courses. The courses cover everything from tips for leading video conferences to advice on how to best work from home.
  • Adobe: Adobe is supporting educators and students with free at-home access to its Creative Cloud applications online after thousands of schools switched to online learning to combat the coronavirus spread. Adobe’s current global higher education and K-12 institution customers are able to request at-home access, which will be granted until May 31, 2020. It’s also offering free 90-day access to its web conferencing tool, Adobe Connect, for both current subscribers and non-customers, until July 1, 2020.
  • Clarity Wave: Clarity Wave is supporting businesses and teams that are working at home through free access to its Employee engagement software. Companies can get full Clarity Wave access for free, for 3 months.
  • Microsoft said it will limit restrictions on its free version of its collaborative communications tool, Teams. It’s also offering a six-month free trial for some of its basic package of Office 365 enterprise products to businesses that reach out to a Microsoft partner or sales representative. “By making Teams available to as many people as possible, Microsoft’s hope is that they can support public health and safety by making remote work even easier,” a Microsoft spokesperson said.

The following is from the Harvard Business Review in an article entitled, “What Your Coworkers Need Right Now Is Compassion

Remember this is an opportunity for connection.

Caza and her coauthors found in their research that “there were lots of triggers and pathways to fractures in relationships,” but there was also “the potential for stronger relationships in these stressful times. Anytime things get shaken up, there’s a potential for a positive shift,” she explains. And because this crisis is global, almost everyone is affected in some way. I’ve seen this happen in the past few weeks. Coworkers — some of whom I don’t interact with very often — have reached out to see how I’m doing, and I, in turn, have done the same for others. That sense that we’re in this together that can be uniting, even when — or because — we are under extreme duress.

Accept that we’re all coping differently.

Another coworker of mine shared an article about the strain on marriages during the crisis that shed some light on why things might feel tense in some of our working relationships. In it, relationship expert Esther Perel pointed out that people often have different coping mechanisms. Some individuals like to take in as much information as possible, spending hours on Twitter or reading article after article. Others like to limit the amount of news they take in. Some may be rigid about social distancing (that’s me) while someone else may take a more flexible approach. And some colleagues may throw themselves into work, finding comfort in being busy, while others struggle to keep up and stay focused.

There’s also a difference in how optimistic or pessimistic people feel. I see this play out daily in virtual meetings when someone asks people how they’re doing and one person says “Great!” and another mutters “Meh.” These are all valid responses, and we don’t have to have the same ways of coping.

Caza says the difference isn’t just in coping approaches, but in circumstances as well. Colleagues aren’t being affected by the crisis in the same ways. Some are working at home with young children and are now tasked with homeschooling. Others have parents or other older relatives who they are concerned about. For some, work has gotten more intense, while others’ workloads have lightened. Several of my colleagues have regularly worked at home over the years and are well set up. Others don’t have quiet places at home to take calls, never mind be on a video call.

Be generous in your interpretations.

Given the likely variance between you and your coworkers, both Worline and Caza say that one of the most important things you can do right now is to be generous in your interpretations of other people. If you get a curt email, don’t assume the person is annoyed or being rude. Instead, imagine that they are under time pressure and didn’t have time for their usual niceties.

This is hard to do, explains Worline. “When we are in a crisis, we change the way we interpret things going around us. Our own pain and suffering tends to loom large, and we diminish that people are going through the same strain or more. We are more easily overwhelmed by other’s needs and suffering and may react by thinking, ‘There’s nothing I can do about that,’ or ‘That’s their problem and not mine.’”

When tensions come up, try to think about why you and your colleague may not be communicating well. Don’t get stuck in right-wrong thinking. Worline suggests you tell yourself, “I’m capable and I’m surrounded by people who are also capable,” and then ask, “Where are the bottlenecks and how are we communicating?” By focusing on the dynamic and the circumstances, rather than the person, you’re likely to get to the underlying issue without placing blame.

Acknowledge how you’re feeling.

You can avoid miscommunication and hurt feelings by making clear what you’re experiencing at the moment. For example, Caza suggests you explain to your coworkers that you might need some space, especially if things are moving fast. You might say, “There’s a lot of anxiety and stress right now, so let me take some time to think about it.” And communicate more than you might under normal circumstances, being more conscientious about what you say and the tone you convey. I got a note from a colleague on Slack the other day that said, “I’ve been hopping from convo to convo and just realized that the above came across as very blunt — it wasn’t intended to be that way. We’re all doing a lot!” I had noticed her message was terse, but luckily didn’t take it personally. If you do feel something unhealthy brewing between you and a colleague, don’t let it fester. It’s better to address it sooner rather than later, says Caza.

And don’t beat yourself up if you do say something you regret or inadvertently hurt a colleague. “The more you can have compassion for yourself and failings at being the person you want to be the more you can lower your stress,” says Worline.

Accept that your coworkers’ home lives are now relevant to you.

Because we tend to distance ourselves from other’s suffering when we’re under stress, you may find yourself thinking that it’s not your problem that your coworker has two kids and no childcare, for example. “Their parenting situation wasn’t necessarily relevant to your work and how they did their job a few weeks ago,” says Worline. But it sure is now. “Recognize that the relevance has changed because of the situation we’re in.” Here she suggests another shift in thinking: “People are essentially good and they’re trying to do their best.” Instead of getting annoyed your coworker keeps getting interrupted by their child, put down the judgment and think about how you might adjust the patterns of how you work together. How can you be more flexible so everyone can continue to get their work done?

Don’t compare suffering.

One of the recurring comments I’ve seen on social media when people complain about what they’re going through is something along the lines of: “At least you’re not working in healthcare right now.” Worline says that kind of comparison can be “brutally diminishing.” “People mistakenly think they are giving some much-needed perspective. But it doesn’t alleviate the distress, it just adds a level of judgment and guilt, and exacerbates the pain.” Worline points out that there are myriad forms of hardship and that “compassion doesn’t involve judging the relevance of another’s suffering.”

Cell & Data Coverage

  • AT&T: AT&T has removed usage caps for its home broadband internet service, which means customers that gold over the old limit will not be subject to overage fees. The company also reminded people that its public wifi hotspots are still open to all.
  • Comcast: Comcast has made its Xfinity Wifi hotspots accessible for free to everyone, including non-Xfinity Internet customers. You can view a map of all Xfinity hotspots here. Once you’re in a hotspot’s vicinity, find and select the “xfinitywifi” network name in the list of available hotspots. Along with a host of other data providers, Comcast is giving all its customers unlimited data for the next 60 days. For the company’s Internet Essentials program, which services low-income families, new customers will have access to the program for free for 60 days. The program normally costs $9.95 per month. Comcast has also permanently increased the base Internet speed for all existing and new Internet Essential customers. Find out more about eligibility and applying for the service here.
  • Sprint: As of March 18, Sprint is upgrading customers with existing data plans to unlimited date for 60 days. Customers will also have access to an additional 20GB of mobile hotspot data for free. As of March 17, Sprint had waived per-minute toll charges on long-distance calls to countries the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have designated as Level 3 because of the spread of the coronavirus. You can find a list of those countries here.
  • T-Mobile: T-Mobile is upgrading customers to free unlimited smartphone data for the next 60 days if they already have a phone plan that includes data, the company announced in an open letter.
Verity HomesCovid-19 Resources, Tips & Info (Updated Regularly)