Helping my brother with covid19 in NYC
April 3, 2020 9:40 AM   Subscribe

My immunocompromised brother in NYC has covid19. I want to get him some supplies, but am a continent away and deliveries seem to be slow to nonexistent. What are my options?

He's got food and tylenol and he and his partner are trying to keep their faces covered and stay away from one another as much as one can in a NYC apartment. And are staying home, obviously. They're aware of local mutual aid groups and are trying to find a thermometer through them and will be using them for any food-fetching errands they have.

They currently don't have, but could use
* a thermometer
* face masks (cloth are fine, just more comfortable that what they've been makeshifting)
* vicks vaporub
* a peak flow meter
* an air filter
* a humidifier

How could I get some/all of these things to them in the next day or two?

He lives in Harlem.
posted by congen to Shopping (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I noticed that the Mutual Aid list above does not yet include the Harlem slack group. I'm not sure how active that group is or isn't, but if you join you could put out a request for those supplies.
posted by greta simone at 9:54 AM on April 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

I got an email from CVS recently saying that they have started doing delivery. This seems to be different than the third party delivery services that are all booked up (i.e. instacart), since it says to call the store directly. Maybe look up which CVS location is the closest to your brother and see if they can deliver any of the items?
posted by scalar_implicature at 10:29 AM on April 3, 2020 [3 favorites]

Taskrabbit is allowing people to ask for delivery services, as long as they remain contactless. "For example, a client can request that a Tasker delivering essential food or medications leave them in a safe place at your door." So you could either 1) hire someone to find and deliver items; 2) call local stores to confirm they have the items, then hire someone to go to the store(s) and both purchase and deliver them, or 3) if possible, find a store that allows online purchasing and pickup, and buy online and hire someone to pickup the order and deliver it.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 10:36 AM on April 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: FYI for other folks reading the thread - CVS is only delivering when you have a prescription. They’ll add on items to a prescription delivery, but otherwise you’re out of luck.
posted by congen at 12:16 PM on April 3, 2020

Can they check even more local mutual aid networks? Like within their building or on the block? We live in a large building and someone used the previously barely extant fb group to organize a whatsapp which they paired with someone’s existing google voice number to allow neighbors to text for requests. My wife went out earlier since we needed to do some shopping and picked up some things for an elderly neighbor while she did.

Obviously it can’t be easy for them to tap into them if they’re already isolated but if they know any neighbors phone numbers it may be worth reaching out.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 12:29 PM on April 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

CVS is on instacart. You might be able to get thermometer and other non-prescription stuff via there.

You might also have some luck on Also Check, some bodegas are delivering thermometers and stuff downtown.

Please remember tip as generously as you can. these delivery folks are keeping us all going.

Also maybe have them check into their neighborhood on It's a little more active than it usually is.
posted by wowenthusiast at 12:30 PM on April 3, 2020

CVS is only delivering when you have a prescription

Do either your brother or his partner have a health-care professional who would call/fax in a prescription for them?
(I'm not pro-abusing the system, I'm pro-getting an immunocompromised, COVID-19-positive person the help they need as they're coping at home)
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:05 PM on April 3, 2020 [3 favorites]

Wait, though. Doesn't CVS CarePass now do free delivery of most items, as long as one eligible CarePass item is included? It's $5/mo. (This is apart from the issue of availability, which might still be a problem.)

(P.S. Sorry if this has somehow been explored and disproven, but they just rolled out CarePass recently so I wanted to make sure it wasn't overlooked.)
posted by praemunire at 1:30 PM on April 3, 2020

There are hundreds of fabric masks for sale on Etsy. You can order from whatever country you're in for delivery in the US. Order a bunch, they need to be washed and dried all the time. They are not medical grade PPE but some do come with removable inserts I don't understand the purpose of at all.
posted by DarlingBri at 2:05 PM on April 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

I'm in New York too.

I've been ordering from Target ("shipping" not "delivery") and it's taking about 2-3 days for stuff to reach me.

You could also order from Amazon and pay extra for fast shipping. Amazon has a notice up warning about delays, but they have been factored into the delivery dates, and so far everything I've ordered has arrived on time. (This is distinct from Amazon Fresh, which is totally overwhelmed.)

You should probably avoid Instacart. I am hearing lots of reports of people getting only a fraction of what they've ordered because everybody is out of stock of everything --- and of course that would be extra-true for health-related items right now.

And, uh, I literally just discovered a box of thin disposable paper face masks (the equivalent of this) under my bathroom sink, one hour ago. If you want to memail me your brother's address I would happily put a dozen in the mail to him. (It'd be easy and zero risk to me: I have stamps and envelopes, and there's an outbound mailbox in my lobby.) They aren't great, but they would be better than nothing and might tide him over until you can get him something better?
posted by Susan PG at 3:04 PM on April 3, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Ok, fabric masks and a humidifier and probably a thermometer are arriving Sunday via some top notch mutual aid and advice here. Thanks :)
posted by congen at 3:56 PM on April 3, 2020 [10 favorites]

there is another free courier service I saw a sign for today:
call or text 929-320-0660

they're volunteers doing free no-contact deliveries of anything you need picked up- their poster mentions food, medicine, art supplies...
posted by wowenthusiast at 5:51 PM on April 3, 2020 [2 favorites]

For future reference: The hospital I work for is providing a service where we are contracting with a local transportation company to drop off essential supplies at our patients' houses - when they are quarantining at home. We are a broke public hospital but we are doing this anyway. I'm not sure this is available where your brother lives, but asking his doctor's office (or whoever diagnosed him) if they know if any resources for dropping off medical supplies may be useful.
posted by latkes at 9:49 PM on April 3, 2020

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