The Coronavirus (COVID-19) – How Can I Prepare?

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) – How Can I Prepare?

As of Feb 25th, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) posted this notice in response to 14 cases diagnosed in the United States and an additional 39 diagnosed cases in U.S. citizens who have returned to the U.S. from high-risk settings: The U.S. government and public health partners are implementing aggressive measures to slow and contain transmission of COVID-19 in the United States.

One of the reasons this virus is of great concern is because although the virus believed to have started in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China in December 2019, it has spread rapidly. As of February 23, 2020, 31 other countries outside of China have reported cases. 76,936 cases have been acknowledged by China, and 1875 cases outside mainland China. These cases have resulted in 2462 known deaths worldwide although as of this date no deaths have been reported in the U.S.

Because of the rapid spread of this virus, the CDC is telling Americans they should be prepared for a possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak.

Common sense measures:

  • Social Distancing – In the event of a community outbreak, avoid crowds as much as possible to minimize exposure risk

  • Have some commonly used food staples available in the home so that trips to the grocery store can be minimized; perhaps enough non-perishable food to last for 2 to 4 weeks

  • Keep an 2-4-week supply of daily medications needed

  • Have fever reducers − acetaminophen or ibuprofen on hand

  • Use household cleansers, such as bleach wipes or alcohol on surfaces that get touched frequently in the kitchen and bathroom

  • If you are sick, stay home

  • In the event of an outbreak if you can work from home (telecommute), consider that option

Other health measures:

  • If you have trouble breathing (respiratory difficulty) or are dehydrated, you may have to visit a hospital. However, the best strategy may be to call the doctor’s office first rather than heading to the emergency room or urgent care where you might infect others or become infected by others

  • Hand washing is emphasized! Wash your hands as soon as you walk through your door. Good and frequent hand washing can decrease virus transmission by 30 to 50 percent

  • If you need to cough, cough into your elbow and wash your hands immediately after

  • Throw out used tissues immediately

  • Plan for possible daycare, childcare, or elderly care in the event a daycare, school, or elderly care facility you use closes

Commonsense suggests that if this outbreak becomes severe, normal available resources – clinics, hospitals, day care centers, and schools – may be overwhelmed and some facilities may be closed. For example, on Feb. 27th, Britain’s chief medical officer warned that if the coronavirus takes hold, schools and offices could be closed in the country for two months and mass gatherings and sporting events could be banned.

The implications are clear – hope for the best but begin to make effective contingency plans in the event the situation becomes more severe and resources are less available.  

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