Getting Ready for the Coronavirus
A few weeks ago I had a trip planned to Santa Barbara to see a friend who suggested I shouldn’t come, on the off chance I was infected with Coronavirus. She and her partner both have somewhat compromised immune systems so this seemed like a wise choice. But it also triggered my curiosity and I started learning about the epidemic. It didn’t take long to determine my friend wasn’t being overly cautious and that it was time to start getting ready.
Here are some ideas on how to get yourself ready now, if you haven’t already.
First let’s talk about what you are getting ready for. There are a few different scenarios, some more likely than others.
You might be quarantined in your home. This could be for a few weeks, or it could be for longer. The quarantine might be because of a contact with a known case. Let’s say that happens, for two weeks you and your family stay home and for the first 13 days everyone’s healthy. Day fourteen you get sick. The clock starts over for those in the home with you that aren’t sick. The day any of them gets sick the clock starts over for those that aren’t. What about if you are sick, or once you get sick. If you are well enough to stay home and not go to a hospital, you’ll need to be home until you are completely symptom free. My personal opinion is you should even stay home after that for a while because we really don’t know how long a person sheds virus. It gets harder to make recommendations on this time frame because there have been varying events that only tell us what we don’t know. For example, we’ve had people who tested positive and then negative test positive again. Did they get sick again? Was there a testing error? We don’t know. Depending on what the CDC is recommending and what your doctor tells you at the time you develop symptoms you’ll have to make a smart decision about when to leave your house once you recover from this virus.
There is also the possibility that you will be home because your child’s school is shut down or your place of employment. Not stuck at home, just having to stay home and take care of your children. In this case you can still go to the store, but if your child’s school is closed you’ll want to be thinking about increased risk of exposure in your community and the clever thing to do is not need to go out as much.
There’s also the possibility of a lock down – a government mandated request that you stay home. Again, this would be a rather extreme measure but if it happens it’s unclear how long it would last.
There’s a second thing to prepare for in the even that this virus becomes more widespread and overwhelms first our health care system and then other parts of our social infrastructure. You might have the freedom to go out as much as you like but around you things won’t be so efficient and available. And in this case if you get sick you might have more trouble getting the health care you need.
Start by prioritizing. You may not have the space, time, or money to stock your house with enough of everything you normally use to last 2 months. You may only need to have enough to get through being sick when it’s harder to get to your doctor. This is why all the government recommendations on what to do to prepare say get medicine refilled but not much more than that. It’s a good place to start – get the things you need for your health maintenance and care.
That means the first thing to do is to make sure you have both prescription and non-prescription medications and supplements. You might have to pay out of pocket for early refills or to advocate for yourself to get an early prescription written and or filled. My husband had to argue with a Kaiser doctor who finally agreed that it made sense to refill early because there might be an earthquake. That’s what she said. Kaiser has to follow the CDC guidelines which are still saying don’t worry, your chances are low of contracting the virus.
Next, make sure your thermometer works or buy one if you don’t have a functioning one. If you have issues with your lungs consider picking up a pulse-oximeter online or at CVS. If you can buy some disposable gloves these are nice to have on hand.
It’s not a bad idea to have your favorite cold ward-off remedies on hand, as well as your vitamins and things you tend to like when you get sick (lozenges, vitamin C etc.).
With basic health care items taken care of, stock up on toiletries, household items and cleaning supplies. Buy enough for 2 weeks-2 months, depending on what is most reasonable for your storage and financial capacity.
Next stock up on food that has a long shelf life – if you’ll eat it. I didn’t buy anything we don’t normally eat in our family, for example, we don’t eat much in the way of canned beans so even though these are a healthy convenient source of protein and fiber that can sit on the shelf for a long time, I didn’t buy any. We have an extra freezer in the garage so I cleaned it out and stocked it with organic bacon, spelt and rye breads, chicken breasts, butter and so on.
Eggs last a long time so I bought surplus of these as well as some roots, veggies and fruits that I could fit in the fridge that last longer, like Brussel sprouts, citrus, onions and so on. Each time you go to the store buy your normal amount and rotate them to the back so the oldest foods get used soonest. Check the sell buy date on everything you buy so you know how long you can store it for and whether it makes sense to buy more than usual.
Finally, if you still have room, time, brain power, and money, buy some things that will make being home for a while a little more pleasant… your favorite treats, your comfort foods, or foods you like to eat when you get sick. As long as you are able and comfortable going to the store, keep going and get what you need each week – don’t use up the surplus you just stocked – rotate items so the oldest is used first.