Coronavirus Pandemic Inspires Private Generosity

Examples abound of the generosity and sense of community of the American people.


While many of us turn to the government for answers to the COVID-19 pandemic, others rightfully seek solutions from the private sector. Last week, the Hoover Institution's Russ Roberts asked his many twitter followers to help "create a list of voluntary (non-coercive) actions taking place right now to reduce COVID-19 spread or impact." The answers are too inspiring not to share.

First, many of Roberts' followers shared a list the benefits offered by their employers that help to alleviate workers' financial hardships or ensure their health is protected. For instance, Walmart, Target, Gap, and many other firms announced that they will provide up to two weeks of paid leave to every worker who is sick or taking care of sick family members.

Even companies that rely on self-employed contractors are stepping during this crisis. Uber, for example, emailed its customers to inform them that "Any driver or delivery person who is diagnosed with COVID-19 or is individually asked to self-isolate by a public health authority will receive financial assistance for up to 14 days while their account is on hold," adding, "We've already helped drivers in some affected areas, and we're working to quickly implement this worldwide."

Second, the fast-rising prices of some items like hand sanitizers frustrate many. But these price hikes are also a vital signal to manufacturers that these products are in especially high demand—high enough that it's worth it for companies that usually don't make these goods to shift their resources toward producing them. In China, facemasks are now produced by auto, electronic, and energy companies. A group of citizens in Hong Kong set up a surgical-mask factory to increase supplies, which tempers price hikes.

But Roberts' followers also highlight examples of companies innovating to fill other shortage gaps. For example, Shine Distillery and Grill in Portland, Oregon, is now turning its alcohol waste into hand sanitizer, which the owner then gives away. The Durham Distillery in North Carolina is also donating its homemade sanitizer to local hospitality businesses.

Big guys like LVMH are helping, too. The world's biggest luxury company announced that it would temporarily make hand sanitizer instead of perfumes and then freely deliver the gel across France to address critical shortages.

Companies are going out of their way to make it tolerable for people to be stuck at home. The Metropolitan Opera is now streaming nightly performances for free to fans quarantined to their homes. The streaming company Zoom, a leader in modern enterprise video communications, will start streaming religious services for free, too.

Where I live in Arlington, Virginia, Comcast is providing free Wi-Fi for children who don't have it. This generosity helps students learn while their schools are closed. Charter Communications also announced that it would offer free broadband for two months to households with students around the country.

Former Duke basketball star and current New Orleans Pelican Zion Williamson announced that he will cover the salaries of workers at the Smoothie King Center who will be hurt by the NBA's suspension of its season. In the same spirit, Charlotte's Hornets Sports and Entertainment—and Charlotte Hornets players—announced the creation of a fund to provide financial assistance to their 500 part-time employees affected by the lack of games. And Guinness brewery announced that it would give $500,000 through its "Guinness Gives Back Fund to help communities where we live, work and celebrate."

Restaurants are also restructuring their operations in order to protect workers and customers. In Seattle, high-end restaurant Canlis went from offering a $135 four-course tasting menu to "selling bagel sandwiches in the morning, running a drive-through serving burgers and veggie melts for lunch and delivering dinner to the doorsteps of Seattle residents," according to The New York Times. Roberts' feed is full of examples of local restaurants offering free lunches to children in need whose schools have closed.

This column is too short to list everything that companies and citizens are now doing to help during this crisis. From private companies searching for cures and developing a vaccine to private citizens tutoring kids for free online to neighbors using the Nextdoor app to set up mutual-aid resources for vulnerable community members needing food, medicines, and services, examples abound of the generosity and sense of community of the American people.

If you need inspiration during the long upcoming social distancing stretch before us, just scroll down your Facebook feed. America, you've got this!


NEXT: Truckers Are Rushing Supplies to Empty Store Shelves During Coronavirus Crisis. Will Regulators Get Out of the Way?

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  1. This is the best thing I’ve read here in far too long. Thank you.

    1. Yes, this is great thing but also try to visit neukcontacten some great girls waiting for chat with you

    2. It’s good to see but doesn’t make up for unreason’s DEATH TO AMERICA TO GET RID OF TRUMP stance.

    3. Amen, brother.

    4. I’m surprise the FDA/CDC aren’t shutting down private generosity here – seems they have everywhere else. The government has a full-out monopoly on generosity – didn’t you hear?

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  3. Now, the universe is facing so much crisis and this crisis leads to death. Coronavirus is the reason for all our pains and sorrow. Since that is the thing that we are facing now, the government sector even private are being generous to all who are suffering or those who are under quarantine or investigation. They helping each other to give what they have. For now, we do not know when this endemic ends but all we have to do is just pray and have extra hygiene.

  4. Should we add the new york times running hit pieces on people who bought hand sanitizer, and the used the pricing mechanism to ration it and level the demand curve?

    1. I don’t think the writer stated anywhere that we are seeing only good coming out of people. But that is the focus of her piece.

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  6. I wonder if’s benefactor Charles Koch will be even more generous in his promotion of open borders advocacy. I’d like to think so, but with his net worth tanking from over $60 billion to under $50 billion he might not have the spare cash.


  7. Is it just me, or has Reason‘s swarm of spambots gotten almost an order of magnitude worse in the past day or so?

    1. They’ve gone viral

      1. It’s a Crichton wet dream come true.

  8. For companies this is why they should have a cash reserve to keep good employees on during a minor economic setback like this. This two week quarantine is temporary and the economy will come roaring back once people get back to normal activities by next weekend. It would be more expensive to hire new employees than pay good employees two weeks sick leave.

    Moral hazard instead of bailouts is the solution.

  9. Not surprised. Norma folk, do extraordinary things.

    Maybe people who are running around making people more nervous should shut up and do something productive and helpful.

    1. This is it. Progressives simply do not believe that humans care about each other, or that they will help each other without government almighty dictating it. Their base assumption is that people are too naive to know when others are in need, too ignorant to know how to help, and too stupid to be able to help. Projection, methinks.

  10. This hasn’t effected me very much, I am a manufacturing engineer and we are still manufacturing. We have made some changes and those that can work from home, but business goes on mostly as normal. I haven’t looked into what needs there are in my community, but this has inspired me to see what I can do for my neighbors who may need some help right now. Cheers, commentariat.

    1. Shit still needs to get out the door, and if you take a break it just gives the design engineer a two week lead to come up with something truly nightmarish.

  11. That is really true! I can confirm that because I’m the Coronavirus.
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  12. Government interventions suffer in comparison with charities in terms of efficacy, efficiency, morality, and cannot provide the individual satisfaction and growth to both givers and receivers that do charities.

  13. French Peer-Reviewed Study: Our Treatment Cured 100% Of Coronavirus Patients

    Grain of salt, as always, but sounds very promising.

  14. Lol. Spend a few hours at Walmart watching panic shoppers and you’ll see how little generosity there is

    Instead, you’ll realize how fragile our civilization is.

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  16. According to socialists and progressives, private charity is a bad thing and the government should have a monopoly on helping people in need. In Europe, they have largely accomplished that. In the US, they are busy doing the same, through massive federal aid programs and giveaways, combined with high debt and high taxes.

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