What personal preparations are reasonable for coronavirus?
February 25, 2020 8:34 PM   Subscribe

What are the best steps to take to prepare for limiting possible coronavirus infection if/when it comes to my area and weathering possible lockdown? What practices do current best evidence suggest are reasonable? I'm having significant anxiety about possible coronavirus infection, although I live in the US and am not currently in a known outbreak area. I would like advice on what type of preparation for the possibility of community spread of COVID-19 in the US might be reasonable versus overly anxious.

I've never been much into prepper culture but the COVID-19 news is hitting a sweet spot of anxiety for me. I had H1N1 flu in 2009, got pneumonia, was severely ill, had to be hospitalized, could have died. I have asthma so I am higher risk for complications from respiratory illness. I find the idea of getting an illness like that again scary. In retrospect I wish I had taken any precautions when H1N1 was in my area.

Based on current data it appears likely that the new coronavirus will spread around the world. I'm considering doing some preparation in the hope of both making it less likely that I would catch the virus and feeling better about the possibility of being homebound for weeks to months. I would like a Metafilter Reality Check on what things I'm considering are reasonable caution versus anxiety-fueled overreaction.

Really I want to know what practices are reasonable given current evidence. What would you do/are you considering? Here are some ideas that I have:

- Try to get a 3-month supply of essential medications, like my asthma inhalers

- Build up a few month supply of dried food that I/my family would eventually eat anyway, like rice, beans, powdered milk, dried spices.

- Get medical supplies now ahead of it reaching my area so that I could limit infection if I had a sick family member. These might include masks, gloves, disinfectant (what kind?), maybe other things? These I feel like are not insane to get because they could be used other times when people in my family are sick.

- I'm considering a respirator but wondering if that is crazy.

- Consider limiting nonessential travel. I travel a lot for work and it is starting to spike my anxiety. But how to make these decisions in a reasonable way? I have trips to Europe planned for late March and June, is it crazy to think about canceling if there is spread throughout Europe in the next few weeks? What about the 10,000+ person work conference next week with people coming from all over the world? Is it worth doing the mask/glove/disinfectant thing while traveling?

- What else?
posted by medusa to Health & Fitness (29 answers total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Take the same percautions you take for flu. That's it. If you dont worry about flu don't worry about this. Non essential travel limitations are likely a good idea more so because loss of work due to having to stay out for two weeks is likely more damaging to you than the virus itself.
posted by AlexiaSky at 8:49 PM on February 25, 2020 [11 favorites]

Best answer: This is one article of advice about preparation I've seen circulated by friends of mine who work in public health (in Australia).
These are things we can do to reduce our risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection.

Stay at least 2m away from obviously sick people.
We’re trying to avoid receiving a cough/sneeze in the face, shaking hands, or being in the range of droplet splatter and the “drop zone”
Wash your hands for 20 seconds & more frequently than you do now
Soap and water and then dry, or an alcohol-based hand rub, and air dry
Try not to touch your face.
There is a chance your unwashed fingers will have a virus on them and if you touch/rub your mouth, nose or eyes, you may introduce the virus and accidentally infect yourself. Practice this; get others to call you out when you forget. Make it a game.

While a mask seems like a good idea, and when used by professionals it does protect from infection, it can actually give inexperienced users a false sense of security. There isn’t a lot of good evidence (still!) that shows a mask to reliably prevent infection when worn by the public at large. They are useful to put on a sick person to reduce their spreading of the virus.
My own view on respirators—which I've worn for work—is that they're necessary PPE if you're working around dust or woodchip or pollens, and for specific dangerous tasks like spraypainting, but they're designed for active work tasks by trained people, not for daily life. It's the wrong tool for the job.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 8:51 PM on February 25, 2020 [14 favorites]

Best answer: I dont think that having supplies of all these things is unreasonable, for all kinds of purposes. You should have an disaster preparedness kit that includes supplies of food, water, and medications. Depending on your region and what disasters are likely this should at least be enough for a couple of weeks but maybe longer.

In your specific circumstances, longer term supplies of your asthma medication might make sense, in case supply chains are disrupted (again for any reason, not just epidemics).

Three months seems a little overkill to me, though. If you are stuck inside for months, you will find new ways to get supplies - ordering online, etc. Even if deliveries are delayed, I can't imagine delays will be more than a month. If online shopping is impossible for three months at a time, and there's no way to get help from your family and friends, society has collapsed and we are all doomed.
posted by lollusc at 9:02 PM on February 25, 2020 [5 favorites]

Best answer: So, Should You Panic About Coronavirus Now?
What can I actually do?

If things reach pandemic status, you might be spending more time at home. But that will really depend on what’s happening where you live. Messomier advised that people come up with the same plans they might if they knew they were going to be stuck at home with a fever for a while: ask your employer about working from home, ask your school about a plan for closure and tele-schooling, and check if your doctor or insurance plan offers a way to chat with a doctor virtually.

My friend is stocking up on canned food, should I stock up on canned food?

“That’s not something I’m recommending,” says Blumberg, who suggests most routines won’t come to a halt (with the caveat that he can’t predict the future). “People who are sick will hopefully stay home.” Keeping up with regular grocery shopping seems like precaution enough here.

This might not be the ideal time for the cautious among us to plan a non-refundable international trip months down the line, as it’s hard to predict what summer will hold, but you also don’t need to cancel anything, probably? Honestly, it’s hard to say. “Our travel notices are changing almost daily,” the CDC’s Messonnier said. The CDC has a handy page where they post travel advisories, and where you can search for the particular country you’re traveling to. So far, they’re only recommending avoiding all non-essential travel to China (excluding Hong Kong), and South Korea on account of the coronavirus. For Italy, where the virus has made plenty of headlines by colliding with Fashion Week, the CDC recommends extra precautions, like washing your hands a lot, or perhaps staying home if you have a chronic illness and don’t absolutely have to go.

Blumberg thinks that trying to restrict travel is reactionary, but notes that this tendency itself might be a reason to avoid getting on a plane: “My worry is if you travel somewhere, will you be able to return home?,” he says. “We saw what happened with the Diamond Princess.” Or take the man in Miami who traveled to China and developed flu-like symptoms upon returning home: he got a test to make sure it wasn’t coronavirus, and even with insurance is stuck with a $1,400 bill.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:04 PM on February 25, 2020 [2 favorites]

“People who are sick will hopefully stay home.”

Something to think about: in the US, a lot of people have no sick time and can’t afford to miss work. Also, a lot don’t have health insurance or can’t afford to use their health insurance, so they won’t go to the doctor, either.
posted by MexicanYenta at 9:29 PM on February 25, 2020 [57 favorites]

Best answer: You need to have your preparations match the likely problem or you're really just being an anxiety marionette. It's no fun being an anxiety marionette.

There's nothing wrong with having modest supplies of shelf-stable food (and, more importantly actually, water) stored against any sort of emergency, but three months? Do you think you're going to be completely quarantined for three months? Do you think your area is going to run out of food for three months? Neither of these are reasonable expectations; the latter in particular would require a near-total breakdown in society, in which case you'll have bigger problems.

Same with the three months of inhalers, though if you can afford it and if they aren't constantly expiring out from under you, seems somewhat less unreasonable, in that you can't improvise, scrounge, grow, or borrow them from others.

Avoiding nonessential travel to affected regions for pleasure makes sense if the anxiety is going to rob you of the pleasure. Refusing to travel for work (without the State Department backing you up) is likely to have much more serious consequences and I think you'd better take those seriously.

Others have covered the likely more effective protective measures you should be taking. Honestly, what says to me more than anything that anxiety rather than rationality has the upper hand with you right now is that as an H1N1 survivor you seem unaware of what the standard practices are and are jumping straight to N95s and three months of Spam in your pantry closet. If you're not washing your hands frequently and doing your best to avoid touching your face, that Spam will be useless.

Do you see a therapist of any kind? It might be helpful to treat this as a mild incidence of PTSD.
posted by praemunire at 10:04 PM on February 25, 2020 [10 favorites]

Best answer: I'm keeping to my standard hurricane kit (water, powdered drinks, some dried foods I rotate through our usual cooking rotation) and lecturing the kids on handwashing and sneezes. I'm somewhat fortunately/unfortunately between jobs so I'm home for day five of nursing a headcold with body aches that in the past I would have (due to sick time issues) powered through with hospital grade hand sanitizer and pain meds.
posted by tilde at 10:06 PM on February 25, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I posted this article about now is the time is to switch to pandemic preparation instead of containment on the blue.
Singapore's Ministry of Health has useful FAQs, including some links to the Labor department's suggestions for employers (Ministry of Manpower there).

I would suggest talking to your HR department, supervisors, etc about what their contingency plans are and to ask if there could be more funds directed to the cleaning crew and for cleaning supplies.*

To be honest, I would avoid the mega-conference next week. Situation is evolving so rapidly with new clusters of infections forming, that I would err on the side of paranoia for people with higher risk conditions. I am not a health care provider, let alone your health care provider, but social distancing (linked pdf on SD for flu) is one of the tools we have to slow the spread of disease and to lower individual exposure.

*Per the CDC: Routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs... Provide disposable wipes so that commonly used surfaces (for example, doorknobs, keyboards, remote controls, desks) can be wiped down by employees before each use.
posted by spamandkimchi at 10:12 PM on February 25, 2020 [8 favorites]

Best answer: Covid 19 is big new because of its novelty and because of the dramatic - and sometimes draconian - efforts to limit its spread. For a sense of proportion compare its current effects with seasonal influenza in 2017-18 - this infected about 19 million people, hospitalised nearly a million and killed just under 80,000 in the USA alone - about twice as many as died in road accidents. Most people are probably completely unaware of those figures simply because flu is not news.

So, maybe it would help to just look at Covid-19 as being an extension to seasonal flu: not technically accurate - and you would want to take steps to avoid catching either - but not an apocalyptic threat either. There will be ongoing media coverage of disruption, quarantine, paranoid theories, mask shortages and so on. Try to filter it out as best you can: it is more a reaction to novelty than a foretelling of personal danger.
posted by rongorongo at 10:40 PM on February 25, 2020 [31 favorites]

Best answer: One thing I did was build up my at-home first aid kit for more use. I got more serious bandages and splints and over-the-counter meds (I always keep a couple of months prescriptions anyway) to handle regular colds, stomach flu, etc. So that we only need to go to the doctor's clinic or pharmacy for big problems.

We also got a no-contact thermometer. It's not as reliable but it's great to frequently scan everyone without having to disinfect aggressively between people.

If you have a job where you have to be on-site, tart asking repeatedly about their pandemic plan. Will you get split shifts, more sick time, can they put temperature monitoring and sanitiser/soap all over the place with extra signage for handwashing? Can meetings be reduced in time or frequency, can people do them by email or video so there's less close contact?

If you are going to be able to work from home, find out if your company's IT department has a plan. A friend has to go into the office more than she should because the VPN got overwhelmed by the surge of new users. Another friend in the same industry, different company has been able to switch to working at home very smoothly because the system was beefed up for disasters recently.

I got the regular flu vaccine yesterday at my doctor visit to reduce chances of being sick - you basically want to cut down on your chances of needing any formal medical care during the pandemic because that's where your risk of infection grows. Delay elective surgey and proceedures and look at general health.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 11:18 PM on February 25, 2020 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Oh, and get to know your neighbours. My block has been much more friendly recently. If you get stuck in home quarantine, relatives and friends may not be as useful as a neighbour willing to do errands for you. Your physical local social network is very important.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 11:19 PM on February 25, 2020 [8 favorites]

Best answer: [The flu] infected about 19 million people [...] and killed just under 80,000 in the USA

Giving it a kill rate of 0.4%, as opposed to 2% for the coronavirus. Five times deadlier than the flu is worth a little extra attention in my book.

OP, what you are saying sounds reasonable but I might buy just one month worth of groceries and be prepared to order one or two more if the pandemic really does start developing. Still, if something goes down it won’t hurt to have extra supplies — in fact it’s a great way to meet the neighbors.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:26 PM on February 25, 2020 [16 favorites]

Best answer: Get into the habit of regularly and thoroughly washing your hands (and also ask your family members to wash theirs) every time you return home and before you touch your face

Stock up on hand sanitizers

WHO advice to public here
posted by existentialwhale at 11:34 PM on February 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Five times deadlier than the flu is worth a little extra attention in my book.
Deadlier yes (and certainly no grounds for complacency), but also rarer. Which is important when it comes to controlling worry. If you can manage to concentrate on risks which are current - and which you can personally mitigate - you have removed a lot of worry. We may well see a covid-19 pandemic this year, in the end its spread will be dampened by a dearth of uninfected individuals, by the preventative measures suggested here, maybe be the onset of summer, probably be the arrival of at least one effective vaccine later in the year. This article is a pretty good comparison between prevalence and morbidity/mortality rates between covid-19 and flu.
posted by rongorongo at 12:14 AM on February 26, 2020 [8 favorites]

Best answer: Governments are aware of this and where there is an outbreak and threat to public health measures are being taken- see what's currently happening in northern Italy. If this becomes more widespread in the coming weeks, there is likely to be travel bans in place where they need to be. This means your work travel will probably be affected, but the good news is that it will be out of your hands.

For example a big industry event in Bologna (Bologna Book Fair) has been rescheduled from March to May because of the virus outbreak in the region. It's likely that by May there will be a clearer picture of the situation in Europe.

The upcoming conference you have on next week is a bit concerning given your medical history. Make sure you wash your hands a lot, avoid social touch including handshakes and hugs/kisses, bring your own food in rather than relying on catered food.

You will probably be fine. The virus is mainly a concern for the world because of the relatively high proportion of those infected who need intensive hospital care, and the fact that there are not enough hospital beds to handle that percentage of serious cases if the virus does spread widely. On an individual level it is very very likely most people will get only mild symptoms.
posted by Balthamos at 5:18 AM on February 26, 2020 [4 favorites]

Best answer: BTW, I’ve had pneumonia badly several times as well and have a cruddy immune system. My doctor was very reassuring about the risk because I’m not over 65+ where mortality starts to increase. If you are under 65 and don’t work in close contact, have damaged lungs or have a severely compromised immune system condition like HIV, it looks like the risk is pretty much normal with your age peers, which is 0.3-0.8%. she recommended sensible caution (no travel, no visiting sick people etc) and a flu shot and plenty of hygiene but said I didn’t need to self-quarantine.

Worry about the elderly, babies and people already sick. For the rest of us, it’s more like seatbelts during a thunderstorm, sensible precautions against a rare event.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 5:36 AM on February 26, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Even if your area doesn't experience illness some supply chains might have delays. This is already happening to industries like auto manufacturing. Since so much comes from China I think this suggests having a reasonably large supply of vital items. This will also let you self-quarantine if necessary. Add things like toilet paper, menstrual supplies and, if you use them, vitamins. I also try to fill my gas tank when it reaches the half-way mark.
posted by Botanizer at 5:47 AM on February 26, 2020 [4 favorites]

Best answer: Hi, I live in much-denser-than-anywhere-in-the-US Hong Kong. To address your points about living with a coronavirus-affected city:

- Try to get a 3-month supply of essential medications, like my asthma inhalers

- Build up a few month supply of dried food that I/my family would eventually eat anyway, like rice, beans, powdered milk, dried spices.

- Get medical supplies now ahead of it reaching my area so that I could limit infection if I had a sick family member. These might include masks, gloves, disinfectant (what kind?), maybe other things? These I feel like are not insane to get because they could be used other times when people in my family are sick.

Coronavirus is definitely already in your area if you live in a city of any size in the US. But buying things is fine. Order online if that saves you travelling all over or queuing to get these. Keep your purchases simple and adaptable: yes to bleach and hand soap (with many uses), no to masks and gloves.

- I'm considering a respirator but wondering if that is crazy.

No. Stay home and reduce exposure instead. Protect weaker people, the uninsured and poorly insured; you do not know if you are an asymptomatic carrier and wearing a mask but then going out and about while practising bad mask hygiene is a waste of a mask someone actually needed. No commercially-available respirator is going to comfortably prevent you from inhaling the virus.

- Consider limiting nonessential travel. I travel a lot for work and it is starting to spike my anxiety. But how to make these decisions in a reasonable way? I have trips to Europe planned for late March and June, is it crazy to think about canceling if there is spread throughout Europe in the next few weeks? What about the 10,000+ person work conference next week with people coming from all over the world? Is it worth doing the mask/glove/disinfectant thing while traveling?

Cancel the trips, don’t bother with the PPE, skip the conference. Arrange with HR to deliver presentations or hold meetings online. Accept that this is not something individuals can overcome. Our lives and society and economy will have to change and your work trips just not happening and clients not having needs met and people just not in offices for weeks on end is going to be normal for a while. Generate what income you can as safely as you can and ignore the rest.

I’m sorry.
posted by mdonley at 8:01 AM on February 26, 2020 [11 favorites]

Best answer: As part of yesterday’s announcement, the CDC suggested a month of supplies.

It would be sensible to have a good supply of food staples and necessary medications.

“Don’t wait until the last minute to refill your prescriptions,” Neill said. “You want to comfortably have at least a 30-day supply.”

With household supplies, she said, make sure you have essentials on hand, like laundry detergent and, if you have small children, diapers, perhaps enough for a month.

She also suggested finding the website for your local health department so you will have a reliable source of news.

posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:34 AM on February 26, 2020 [2 favorites]

Best answer: As a data point, I am not a particularly anxious person and have no specific risk factors that would make coronavirus more severe, and the list of preparations you've laid out seem completely reasonable to me and in-line with what my husband and I have been discussing over the past few days. The one exception is trying to get masks; we aren't planning on going that route, in part because those aren't something that would be useful for us as part of a broader "let's be a resilient/disaster-ready household" and in part because I think social distancing or self-quarantine, if it came to that, is more effective.

The major thing that we're trying to be thoughtful about preparing for is supply-chain disruptions, and the general desire to avoid NEEDING to go out shopping if this situation evolves in a way where that isn't something we want to do. I think the past week or two has shown the two of us how much we've moved towards an Amazon-like model of "just in time" shopping for a lot of our needs, and how that may have risks whenever there are any sorts of disruptions to normal life. So we're trying to be thoughtful about having more of an in-home stock of food, especially for family members with specific dietary requirements - I think a disruption in specific types of food is more likely, versus food in general not being available, so we're not stockpiling canned vegetables (which we don't eat) but rather having more of the stuff we do eat on-hand.

We want to avoid needing to go to Target/the pharmacy if it becomes widespread, so that also means stocking up on toilet paper, paper towels, OTC meds (for us and the kids), and menstrual supplies. We already have regular bleach, empty spray-bottles, and disposable gloves (we've had a few rounds of stomach virus over the past few years and we're now experts at preventing the spread within our house) - the one thing I'd note here is to make sure you have *regular* bleach, not the non-splash kind (because that kind cannot be used in the CDC-recommended ratios for dilute bleach solution to kill norovirus and other viruses).

Last - my husband and I have started talking about our contingency plans if schools close, in terms of how we'd work. I think this is one of the more likely scenarios and I want to avoid panicked fights about who is going to work and who is staying home with the kids, and how we'll manage that over a potentially prolonged (week+) period.
posted by iminurmefi at 11:02 AM on February 26, 2020 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I live alone in a semi-rural area, so I prep for flu every year. I want to be able to take care of myself if I get sick. Cold/flu meds, tylenol, thermometer, tea, instant drink mix - add hot water to soothe a cough. Canned, ready-to-heat soups, fruit. Ginger ale. In case of travel restrictions or not wanting to go out much, I added a couple bags of rice, beans, pasta, some canned veg., oatmeal, honey, dried fruit, tuna, peanut butter. Stuff I will eat anyway. I have a 1st aid kit with a few masks. If I can take care of myself and maybe help a neighbor, that's 1 less problem for emergency responders. Don't feel silly for buying supplies of stuff you'll use anyway- if you don't need it, you can feel relieved; if you need it, it will be a big help.

Disinfectant? Maybe ask your employer to provide wipes and hand sanitizer, but if it comes to that, try to stay home. Unscented regular bleach or hydrogen peroxide and water are cheap and effective, probably with laundry or dishwashing detergent.

Read the coronavirus MetaTalk thread and an ask.me about real experiences. Water and electricity have not been affected. People who are well go out to shop, wearing a mask as a courtesy to avoid infecting others, just in case. Boredom and isolation are possible - books, music, etc. There was a massive snow in Newfoundland recently that brought everything to a halt. People used social media to help each other, share food, diapers, etc. Be like Newfoundland.
posted by theora55 at 11:16 AM on February 26, 2020 [12 favorites]

Best answer: My school system just sent out a Coronavirus update that basically said, "If needed, we'll activate the infectious diseases protocols of excluding ill kids from attending school, closing schools, disinfecting, etc, as needed."

Noro closed a few schools for a week a few years ago, and they send home a flu-shopping checklist every year that basically is hurricane supplies plus tissues and sanitizing wipes, with a focus on easy-to-make-foods-if-you-feel-like-crap aka soup.
posted by tilde at 11:38 AM on February 26, 2020

Best answer: I’ll add my two cents on the work related points. I work for a multinational and a few hrs ago we got yet another email on this from the global chairman. We were informed that travel bans into/from affected areas were expanded. It also stipulated that internal events requiring travel to other offices be cancelled until at least April and prohibits us from attending external events without leadership approval. And the requirement to self quarantine after travel to/from affected areas remains in place. My colleagues in Milan were told to work remotely on Monday. Milan is about half a day on the train from where I live so I had a conversation with my client today about how we’ll finish the project remotely if local cases emerge and we’re all told to stay home as well. So this is quite real and is absolutely affecting the way things are done.

I would definitely talk to work about the upcoming trips and conference. The worst case scenario is that you get stuck somewhere after an outbreak at your destination, even if you’re not sick yourself. Find out what their contingency plans are and if they envisage restricting travel etc. These conversations are happening all over and they should have a plan. You work out if you’re prepared to go on the trips irrespective of what they tell you. It is one thing reducing your movements at home, quite another to be stuck away for however long.
posted by koahiatamadl at 1:20 PM on February 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: First thing to do, even before going out to stock up on supplies is to hit the Web and find some handwashing videos.

Washing hands isn't exciting, and we all think we know how. After all, we learned it as kids, right?

But most of us don't do it adequately. Even those rare individuals who spend the recommended 20 seconds don't often employ correct technique. It's worth spending a few minutes to watch some instructional videos.

I'll make a bet with you. Watch some handwashing videos, and I'll bet you find at least one thing you ought to be doing, which you're not. (I certainly did.)

Social distancing, covering coughs and sneezes, really good hand washing and avoiding touching our faces - those are the absolute best ways to avoid coronavirus. Or most other respiratory diseases: colds, flu, etc.
posted by wjm at 1:21 PM on February 26, 2020 [5 favorites]

Best answer: I live in a place that is prone to earthquakes and bad winter weather, so I always keep a stockpile of things on hand, in case I can't leave the apartment for a few days.

Some things that have made the experience more bearable for me:

1. A bidet. It reduces the need for toilet paper, and a good bidet cleaning feels SO good.

2. Plenty of activities to do, like books, puzzles, video games, etc. If you do have to self-quarantine, or are mandated by outside forces, now may be a good chance to study a new skill online, try a new hobby, etc. While the chances are low of electricity going out in an illness outbreak, it'd be good to have things that don't require electricity, like books, etc.

3. In my Disaster Food, I make sure to also have some fun things to eat. I *could* survive on beans and rice and dried apples for two weeks, but I'd be miserable. So I also have some popcorn, licorice, etc. Also coffee and sake.

4. I do have an Amateur Radio license. That may be waaaaay out there in terms of preparation, but when I feel cooped up, it allows me to talk to someone in real time. Also useful in case of infrastructure breakdown, like an earthquake.
posted by spinifex23 at 1:40 PM on February 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Just for the record where I live there is a reasonable chance the utilities will be disrupted. The only things I've obtained beyond the above is enough water for two weeks and a solar powered USB charger.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:13 PM on February 26, 2020 [1 favorite]

In light of the fact that my comment above has racked up a fair number of favorites, I want to give credit to 80 Cats in a Dog Suit for originally pointing out (on Facebook) how the USA’s lack of socialized health care could cause us to get hit harder than other countries. It doesn’t seem like anyone else is thinking about that aspect of it, so I’m glad that they are!

So now, officially - h/t to 80 Cats in a Dog Suit!
posted by MexicanYenta at 3:14 PM on February 26, 2020 [7 favorites]

Best answer: How to prepare for coronavirus in the U.S. (Spoiler: Not sick? No need to wear a mask.) (WaPo / MSN reprint)
The Washington Post spoke to epidemiology experts, and they said the most important aspect of preparedness costs nothing at all — calm.

[...] You’ve seen the guidance before: Wash your hands regularly. Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze. And when you’re sick, stay home from work or school and drink lots of fluids.

The CDC recommends washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after using the bathroom, before eating and after blowing your nose or sneezing. It also advises not to touch your eyes, nose and mouth and to clean objects and surfaces you touch often.

[...] You probably don’t need to buy anything new, but if you’re already on your way to CVS, [Timothy Brewer, a professor of epidemiology and medicine at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health and its David Geffen School of Medicine,] has some advice. If you’re not sick, you don’t need to wear them — and you certainly don’t need to buy every box your local pharmacy has in stock.

“The main point of the mask is to keep someone who is infected with the virus from spreading it to others,” Brewer said. The CDC agrees, writing on its website: “CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases.” [...] The same goes for exam gloves, Brewer said, which can get contaminated just like our hands. There’s no need for them if you’re washing your hands properly and often, he said.

If you’re itching to buy something, you can stick to the typical respiratory-virus medicine: decongestants, anti-inflammatory drugs and acetaminophen for fevers.

[...] [Saskia V. Popescu, a senior infection-prevention epidemiologist,] has had a bag packed since she was in graduate school — if she didn’t have one, she said, she would feel like a bad public-health-emergency advocate. She explained one of the best things you can do to prepare for any emergency, including a coronavirus outbreak, is put together an emergency kit.

Hers contains a first-aid kit, flashlights, a space blanket, an external battery for her cellphone, a change of clothes and extra food for her dog. The CDC has a useful checklist for families.

[...] Health officials have stressed keeping your distance from people who are sick, especially when it comes to respiratory viruses. [...] It is worth considering limiting exposure to large groups, especially during flu season. “Any congregation of people is a setup for spreading an infectious agent,” [Stanley Perlman, an infectious-disease expert at the University of Iowa,] said.

[...] Look to trustworthy sources, such as the CDC, the World Health Organization and local health departments, to stay informed, Popescu said — not the anonymous user doling out advice in Twitter mentions.
posted by katra at 4:24 PM on February 26, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Keep your car filled with gas. I like to have a can of those sanitizing wipes in the drink holder just to clean my hands after a rest stop bathroom anyway. Don't forget pet food, another thing that keeps and that you will use in a few months anyway.
posted by 445supermag at 12:08 PM on February 27, 2020

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