I hadn’t been too concerned about coronavirus (COVID-19), but then I read about quarantined towns in northern Italy. I’m still not terribly worried for my own health, even if I end up treating cases at the hospital. I’m 65—a risk factor for viral death—but otherwise healthy, thank God! There’s still a good chance this will blow over and not affect the U.S. in a major way.
If coronavirus becomes an epidemic in the U.S., you will want to be prepared. You’ll want to avoid unnecessary contact with others, especially if you’re over 65 or have significant chronic medical conditions like heart disease, COPD, asthma, active cancer, impaired liver or kidney function, or a poor immune system (e.g, cancer chemotherapy).
If your city or neighborhood is quarantined, will supply trucks be allowed through the checkpoints? Will drivers be willing to enter the quarantine zone? I’ve started to call Wal-Mart, “China-Mart.” Because is it seems like at least half the goods there are made in China. China’s industrial output has already been reduced by the coronavirus epidemic there. A significant number of prescription drugs in the U.S. depend on a healthy China.
A severe coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. might mean you need to hunker down at home, or close to it, for one or two months. So consider stocking up on the following items to last for 4–6 weeks. The good new is, you’ll eventually use most of this anyway.
- various foods with a long shelf-life
- face masks (you’re too late; this ship has already sailed)
- toilet paper
- paper towels
- over-the-counter cold and flu remedies
- throat lozenges
- antiseptic wipes
- a multivitamin
- hand sanitizer
- facial tissues
- important prescription medicines (you may need to call your doctor for a three-month supply)
- body soap
- dishwashing and clothing detergents
- feminine hygeine products
- household cleaning products
Have I missed anything?
Steve Parker, M.D.
Update on March 3, 2020: hand sanitizer (60+% alcohol)