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Guidance on Prevention, Planning and Preparation

Richland Public Health presents some common sense ideas for individual and family COVID-2019 planning to put YOU in charge of reducing your risk of infection and reducing the chance of running out of essential foods and goods.

1) Reducing our risk of being infected

You can do a few things and you’ve probably heard them all before. They won’t guarantee to protect us from infection, but they can reduce our risk of infection. These are just as useful for avoiding influenza (flu) virus infection during flu season and for dodging COVID-2019, if our local community is ever known to have it circulating.

These are things we can do to reduce our risk of COVID-2019 infection*.

  • Stay at least six feet away from obviously sick people. In general, practice a six-foot social distance from everyone.
    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.
  • Replace handshakes with elbow-bumps or practice no-touch greetings like “namaste” (Namaste is a traditional greeting in India said with a hand gesture, in which the palms are pressed together at the chest or head accompanied by a slight bow or arm raise).
  • Start building harm-reduction habits like pushing elevator buttons with a knuckle instead of a fingertip.

If you or a loved one becomes sick, call ahead before going to a doctor, urgent care or hospital and get advice on what to do.

Here are some other things to consider immediately:

  • Think through now how we will take care of sick family members while trying not to get infected. 
  • Businesses should cross-train key staff at work so one person’s absence won’t derail our organization’s ability to function.

2) Reducing your risk of running short of goods or foods (The 2-week List)

What we’re looking at here is trying to minimize the impact of any shortages of goods we rely on having at the grocery store or at the end of an online ordering system. Don’t panic buy and don’t hoard!

Below we list things we’ll need to have in case of a more major interruption to supply; a stock that will last 2 weeks. Some of these things will last much longer and include items that may not be a top priority for authorities to keep stocked:

  • Extra prescription medications, asthma relief inhalers. Try to get a few extra months’ worth of prescription meds, if possible. Some of these may be a problem, so talk to your doctor soon.
  • Over-the-counter anti-fever and pain medications (acetaminophen and ibuprofen can go a long way to making us feel less sick)
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Family pack of toilet paper
  • Vitamins (In case food shortages limit the variety in your diet)
  • Alcohol-containing hand rub
  • Soap
  • Household cleaning agents
    Bleach, floor cleaner, toilet cleaner, surface cleaning spray, laundry detergent
  • Tissues, paper towel
  • Cereals, grains, beans, lentils, pasta
  • Canned food – fish, vegetables, fruit
  • Oil, spices and flavors
  • Dried fruit and nuts
  • Ultra-heat treated or powdered milk
  • Soft drink or candy/chocolate for treats

Be sure to think about others you care for that may not be able to care for themselves:

  • Think about elderly relative’s needs
    Their medications, plans for care, their food supplies
  • And don’t forget about pet food and pet care
    Dry and canned food, litter tray liners, medicines, anti-flea drops

The last-minute fresh list

In a more severe pandemic, supply chain issues may mean fresh food becomes harder to get. So this list is an add-on to the one above, and its items should be the last things to buy if you have a hint of when supplies might slow or stop for a (hopefully short) time.

  • Bread, wraps
  • Meat for freezing
  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Yogurt
  • Vegetables, fruit
  • Fuel for your car

* REMEMBER: As long as the virus circulates, and as long as you have never been infected, you are susceptible to infection resulting in COVID-19. This will be the case for the rest of your life until you have been infected which should protect you from getting it again. COVID-19 is mostly a mild illness but can cause severe pneumonia in approximately 20% of cases, leading to hospitalization for weeks and in a portion of these cases, to death.