19 Tips to Help You Prepare for the COVID-19 Pandemic

If news about the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) throughout the world makes you nervous, you are not alone.
Events seem to be moving very fast, and it can be hard to process all the information. We should all be checking the the CDC's webpage regularly, but we should also be taking steps to prepare for the arrival of COVID-19 to our community.
This article is intended to blend advice on how to reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19 as well as prepare yourself for the potential of community panic bringing disruption to your normal routines.
Fear can easily lead to panic, but fear can also channel productive and helpful action. Now is the time to take action, and this post gives you some tips derived from both medical professionals and government survival experts.
Remember, even if you are not worried about contracting the coronavirus, you should be concerned about the impact of widespread panic in your local community and how it might impact your life.

First, let’s talk about reducing your risk of contracting the virus. To begin, we ought to outline a few facts about the virus:

  • You contract the coronavirus by allowing it into your body, typically by transmitting the virus into your mouth, eye, nose, etc. A typical route might look like this: somebody with the virus coughs on a paper, you subsequently touch the paper, then you grab your sandwich with contaminated fingers and take a big bite.
  • Some initial estimates put the fatality rate at 2%, but this is a low confidence number. Most people with the virus do not get seriously ill. The mortality rate may drop as health professionals gather more data. Still, if the reality is anywhere near a 2% fatality rate, this is significantly higher than what we are accustomed to seeing with the seasonal flu. The rate would be comparable to the devastating 1918 Spanish flu which had a mortality rate of at least 2.5%, but many of those deaths were caused by accompanying bacterial pneumonia, a severe condition in those days before antibiotics.
  • The virus can live outside the body 1-9 days on a variety of surfaces, according to initial estimates. This means you can significantly reduce your if you maintain proper sanitation practices (see below).

Now, let's talk about how to avoid contracting the coronavirus.

First, reduce the chance of the virus getting into your body:
  • Consider friendly smiles instead of handshakes. If the virus is around, practice your own “social distancing” (the CDC term for actions taken to reduce frequent/close interaction of people within a community).
  • Wipe down surfaces, especially high-touch areas (doorknobs, faucet handles, keyboards, etc) with a sanitizing solution. Studies have shown the most effective solutions against coronavirus are at least 0.1% sodium hypochlorite (i.e. bleach), 0.5% hydrogen peroxide, or 71% ethanol.
  • Wash your hands obsessively and make sure you later with soap for at least 20 seconds.
  • Get in the habit of not touching your face with your hands.
  • Use hand sanitizer frequently (ideally it is at least 70% ethyl alcohol). Make a habit of using sanitizer anytime you transition a space or activity.

Have some medicine and vitamins on hand:

There is no vaccine for the coronavirus and it will take time to develop one - if the professionals can do it all. But some studies do show certain vitamins can reduce the severity and length of the common cold. The common cold is, of course, different than the coronavirus, but it would not hurt to have the following items on hand.
  • Obviously, acetaminophen and ibuprofen help reduce fever.
  • Vitamin A, Vitamin D, and Zinc supplements can help reduce the length of a flu.
  • Electrolyte packets or drinks can help an ill person stay properly hydrated.
Remember the basics to staying healthy. Your own good health might be your best means of ensuring you recover quickly should you contract the coronavirus:
  • Water makes everything in your body work better, drink lots of it.
  • Sleep ensures your immune system is in top form; get enough sleep.
  • Stay fit and breathe fresh air. Even if the virus is around, you don’t need to stay hidden in your room all day. Ensure you keep exercising and try to get outside when you can.

Now, turning to preparation, here are some general tips:

  • If you have young children, start practicing some of those hygiene tips (sanitizer, hand washing, etc). Of course, use your parental judgment and try not to create a sense of dread or fear for your child.
  • Review your healthcare information and research any nurse consulting hotlines you might be able to call. Should coronavirus hit your community, it’s best to avoid a trip to the (likely overwhelmed) ER if your symptoms don’t indicate a trip is necessary. But you should always consult with a healthcare professional to help make that determination.
  • Think through scenarios about how your daily life might change. There’s a chance workplace, child’s schools, etc will tell people to stay home, and CDC advice may tell you to avoid public spaces. Start preparing for this possibility.
  • Stock up on food and supplies. Get plenty of canned goods, extra fruit/veggies, milk (which you can freeze if you use a lot of it), prescription medicines, laundry detergent, toilet paper, etc. Get extra bleach (to create your own cleaning solution), hand sanitizer, hand soap, and dish soap. Try to position cleaning supplies around your house to make it easy to frequently wipe down surfaces. Think through items you might need. Do you run to the store every few days to grab something? If you do, whatever you are buying, stock up on it now.
  • Prepare for the possibility of some supply chains breaking down. We have already seen the impact on production from China’s factories, but the impact could get much wider. That means you should have an emergency kit in your house. There is plenty of great information about what goes into a kit, but at a minimum it’s a good idea to have some extra cash on hand, candles, batteries, duct tape, first aid supplies, etc. Think through what you might need to stay safe, warm, healthy, and comfortable if you are house-bound for a few weeks.
Most importantly, perhaps, is preparing mentally for this situation. We are lucky to have this time now to prepare, so use it wisely! We all hope that coronavirus does not spread widely in our communities, but hope is not a strategy for staying safe. We might also be tempted to deny the risk. It’s easy to think “I probably won’t get the coronavirus, or even if I do, it won’t be that bad for me.” Or we could go the opposite direction and start to panic about the possibility of coronavirus. For some of us, our minds just can’t help but imagine the worst case scenarios. By taking action now, you can put yourself in a healthy mental space. You want to be in that productive zone between denial and panic.
Finally, we at the Mountyn Company greatly respect the healthcare professionals and government officials that will be on the front lines of this potential pandemic. It’s important we listen to them during periods of emergency. Crises can breed misinformation and conspiracy theories. Please put your trust in the medical and government professionals who risk their lives to serve the community and keep the public healthy and safe.
  • New York Times, the Daily, available at www.nytimes.com/2020/02/27/podcasts/the-daily/coronavirus.html
  • Rondanelli, M., Miccono, A., Lamburghini, S., Avanzato, I., Riva, A., Allegrini, P., Faliva, M. A., Peroni, G., Nichetti, M., & Perna, S. (2018). Self-Care for Common Colds: The Pivotal Role of Vitamin D, Vitamin C, Zinc, and Echinacea in Three Main Immune Interactive Clusters (Physical Barriers, Innate and Adaptive Immunity) Involved during an Episode of Common Colds-Practical Advice on Dosages and on the Time to Take These Nutrients/Botanicals in order to Prevent or Treat Common Colds. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2018, 5813095. https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/5813095
  • Singh, Sunit K. Viral Infections and Global Change. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley, 2014.
  • Spinney, Laura. Pale Rider : The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World. First US Trade Paperback ed. New York: PublicAffairs, 2018, pages 46, 282.

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