Author’s note: This information is for your personal use and should not be a substitute for medical advice from your own physician. Things are changing daily. Keep informed by visiting the Center for Disease Control and listening for direction from authorities in your local area.

As conditions change regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) there are more and more questions being asked.  This is not the time to panic, only the time to prepare. Following are a few of the questions I have been asked.

How is this any worse than the flu?

This is the number one question I hear and the number one comment I see on Facebook: “lot’s more people die of the flu each year”. The COVID-19 directly attacks the lungs the seasonal flu does not. This increases risk for those with respiratory difficulties; the elderly, infants, those suffering from allergies and asthma, and those who have previously had pneumonia.

The COVID-19 is twice as contagious as the seasonal flu. This means if the death rates are the same, and scientists believe they are, twice many people will be infected, and the death toll could be twice that of a seasonal flu. We really don’t know how many are infected or how many have died as China is not reporting all cases and all deaths, that has been confirmed by those living in China.  Iran and Italy who also have large outbreaks, are not testing anyone until they show symptoms so numbers there are also unreliable.

The seasonal flu dies out as the weather gets warmer. This is what President Trump was referring to when he said it could die by summer. We now know a person can be re-infected after having survived the coronavirus once. This means those with the virus do not build enough antibodies to fight it off when re-exposed. In other words, as long as people can be infected the flu will likely flourish, again we really don’t know since scientists have never seen this virus before.

We hear quarantine will be for two weeks. Is that what we should expect?

The virus is spread mainly from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact, within about 6 feet of each other. It spreads through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Droplets can land in the mouths or noses and then be inhaled into the lungs.

It is also possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes. After people who attended a Buddhist temple in Hong Kong became ill, the city’s Center for Health Protection collected samples from the site and found restroom faucets and cloth covers over Buddhist texts tested positive for coronavirus. The COVID-19 has been found to live from 2 hours to 9 days on surfaces.

How can we prevent getting the COVID-19?

You can’t. You can lessen the chances of contracting the virus by:

The novel coronavirus is fairly easy to destroy on surfaces by wiping the surface with a disinfectant. Wipe surfaces often at home and anything you will touch when out.

Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before touching your face,  viral droplets don’t pass through the skin. Don’t forget under your finger nails and always wash hands after using the restroom.

Don’t shake hands. Even though the virus can not pass through skin once it is on your hands it can be transmitted by touching your face.

Stay home when you are ill and keep the kids home if they are coughing and sneezing or running a temperature. Do not attend school, work, church, community events, a movie, nothing, stay home when you are ill.

Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your arm when coughing or sneezing.

If you believe you may have COVID-19 call the doctor’s office or emergency room before going so they can be prepared to protect other patients and health care workers and to perform the test for the virus.

Should we prepare for power outages?

Yes, always, but the COVID-19 will not cause the outage but rather disrupt all services in society. The grid will be fine, however, should someone knock over a power line there may be no one to repair it as they too will be quarantined. The same is true of police, fire fighters, ambulance drivers, grocery store clerks, truck drivers, post office employees, and gas station attendants. None of this may happen and your two weeks may be mostly uneventful but preparing for the worst is always the wisest.

What might be the one thing we forget to have on hand?

Can I just say, patience and a sense of humor? This too shall pass, and you will want memories you can laugh about in years to come. As far as actual items, many will underestimate the amount of toilet paper they need. Remember everyone will be home, 24/7 unlike now when you leave for work, school and running errands.

Don’t forget to prepare for special occasions. We don’t know if this will come this week or in a month or more. Could you prepare a favorite Easter meal or favorite birthday dessert now? A time such as a quarantine is stressful and our goal should be to make it as much of an adventure as possible.

Right now, most of our family members may be gone during the day to work or school eliminating the need for lunches. Again, everyone will be home all day so prepare to make lunch each day for all family members.

If you have not done so check out the list on the article: In Case of a Community Health Emergency please refer to that for ideas.

Will prices go up?

Yes. You may not realize the active ingredients for many of our prescription and non—prescription medications are manufactured in China. We can plan on limited supplies of some medications and short supply always means increased prices.

China also manufactures many of the toys and much of the fabric and clothing we use here. If you see a toy you know your child wants for their birthday, I would get it now. Again, short supply increases prices.

It may also be surprising to learn half of the apple juice sold in the United States is imported from China. If you read ingredient labels you already know apple juice is used in many processed foods as a sweetener. We also import tea, no surprise, fresh fruits, fish, and garlic to name a few, from China. China is the third biggest supplier of foreign foods to the U.S. behind Canada and Mexico. Yes, there will be shortages and price increases as China gets working again and needs to make up for lost revenue due to the COVID-19. They may be small and hardly noticeable but there will be some.

Should I travel?

As of this moment, many countries have banned cruise ships from docking at their ports. Since many of the patients with the coronavirus contracted it on the cruise right now may not be the time for a cruise.

If you are planning travel to a foreign country pay attention to the state department warnings on travel. As of this moment, advisories are indicted for China, Italy, Iran, Macau, Hong Kong, Mongolia and South Korea. Japan is listed as a destination to reconsider travel. Before traveling contact the embassy in the countries you plan to visit.

Travel within the United States or whichever country you call home, except those listed above, is relatively safe. Take precautions. The World Health Organization (WHO) advises that travelers exercise the same precautions they would follow to avoid catching the flu or a cold while traveling. Keep hands clean and use antiseptic wipes on any surfaces, such as tray tables and armrests, if traveling by plane, if traveling by car, tables and chair backs at restaurants and door handles, anywhere germs could linger. Contrary to popular belief, cabin air when flying is less of a concern, jets are equipped with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters, similar to those used in hospital operating rooms and cabin air is recirculated through those every two to three minutes. Most medical experts say a face mask won’t protect you from other people’s illnesses but will prevent you from spreading your own to others. If you do want to use a mask be sure it is an N95. The COVID-19 virus spreads by droplets, not airborne transmission so think clean surfaces.

How can we help family and friends during a quarantine who are not in our home?

The best time to help is now. Encourage friends and family to prepare now with food and medications to last at least two weeks. Point out to others that buying what they normally use will never go to waste. Don’t panic, just encourage them to buy now and if they don’t need to quarantine they will have food storage that can be replaced as things go on sale, saving lots of money, especially as prices rise.

Should others call on you for help during a self-quarantine deliver meals or supplies you can spare by placing them at their door, knocking and leaving. Ask them to wait 30 seconds before going to retrieve what you have left.

Ezra Taft Benson taught: When obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes our quest, in that moment God will endow us with power.

Prophets ancient and modern, have warned us to prepare. Being prepared is power. It brings both peace and safety to ourselves and our homes. 

Several years ago, I wrote an ebook about pandemics titled “Prep Not Panic”. That would be my advice again. We know if we are prepared, we shall not fear.

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