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COVID-19: What we’re doing and what you can do

David Bley
Mar 23 · 3 min read

I hope that you, your loved ones, and your team are healthy, safe, and doing well under the circumstances. We are living in an unusual and fearful time, and I want you to know that we at the foundation understand the stress it is placing on you, personally and organizationally.

We are all figuring this out as we go. The most important thing is to take care of ourselves and the ones we love, and to look out for the people who are most vulnerable in this unprecedented situation.

As a team, our paramount concern is the health and safety of our communities. It is essential that we all follow the physical distancing recommendations of our governor and public health authorities — we’re all in this together, just six feet apart — and help get the word out by sharing information directly from them with your friends and communities.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is in a unique position to support the pandemic response, and we are doing everything we can. In addition to direct investments like our $5 million to support local response efforts, our $50 million to accelerate R&D on vaccines and therapeutics, and our support for developing home COVID-19 testing, we are also using our knowledge base and connections to get the right info to the right people, share ideas and practices around what’s working, and inform the efforts of others. Read more in this Q&A with Amy Carter, our director of Community Engagement.

We know you have lots of questions, and encourage you to hear directly from Bill Gates on his recent Reddit AMA (“Ask Me Anything”) and on Facebook Live with TED Conversations.

The complexity of the response to this crisis is extreme, and I want to take a moment to thank our city, county and state governments, especially our local public health authorities, our federal delegation, our business community, our clinics, hospitals, and research universities, and our nonprofits that continue to serve communities even under personal and financial stress. I give my utmost gratitude for the courage and self-sacrifice that people on the frontlines display all day, every day — our first responders, health care workers, and homeless services providers. People are stepping up, getting creative, and working together for the good of our community.

With that in mind, consider that a shared crisis also offers opportunities. We can see now, in very tangible ways, how deeply interconnected we are as a community — and we can also see clearly how this pandemic is exacerbating inequalities, and how inequalities in turn exacerbate the pandemic. As a region full of innovators and problem solvers, we have a once-in-a-century moment to reexamine our education systems, economic systems, social safety systems, and health care systems, and imagine how they could operate better for everyone.

How you can help

Through the United Way of King County’s Community Relief Fund, you can direct your donation to food, rental assistance, or wherever the need is greatest. Learn more.

A coalition of philanthropy, government, and business partners came together to invest in the Seattle Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund, which is providing emergency grants to community-based organizations with deep roots in the communities disproportionately impacted. Learn more.


These are trying times, but we are a resilient community, and we will get through this together. Please check in on each other, give back where you can, and help guide our region to something even stronger than it was before.

David Bley

Written by

Director of the Pacific Northwest Division of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, helping all children in our home state reach their full potential.

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