Social media and the news have been all a-twitter with reports of the “Wuhan coronavirus” now officially termed COVID-19. And U.S. public health experts are urging Americans to prepare. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC stated publicly, “Disruptions to everyday life may be severe, but people might want to start thinking about that now.”
Um, Nancy, I think the conjunction you wanted to use in that sentence was AND, not but.
As the mom of two elementary-school-aged boys, that’s the perspective I bring to prepping my family for the worst-case scenario; the boys’ school is closed for two weeks and my husband and I have to balance both working from home while simultaneously keeping our beloved baby wolf cubs from tearing apart all the furniture.
Personally, I have found the official preparedness advise incredibly vague. The response demands of COVID-19 are going to be subtly, but significantly different from a zombie apocalypse. For example, I feel extremely confident that utilities will continue to function, so no need to stock 25 gallons of drinking water or buy a gas powered generator. But having things on hand so that I don’t have to zip over to the warehouse store for two weeks seems prudent. Also, I expect that 2-day shipping or grocery delivery is going to stop being so convenient. If everyone has to stay home from work because of illness, the flying robots will have nobody to supervise order fulfillment, and we still don’t have drones for delivery.
That said, here’s my list of must haves:
- Perspective- I used to have a project manager who, whenever things were going completely off the rails and panic was in the air, would ask, “Will any babies die today because of what does or does not get done here?” Same for work disruptions because of closed schools or day cares. I know one mom who is a physician at the hospital NICU. For her, the answer is probably yes, and she better get on with figuring out a back-up childcare plan. But for those of us who post customer payments and write blog posts, it’s going to be OK if things take a couple extra days.
- Toilet paper and facial tissue- This is not the time to run out of either.
- Soap, laundry detergent, dishwasher pods- When people are trapped in close quarters, things get smelly fast. Also, if someone does get sick, and remember, COVID-19 isn’t the only germ in town, the need for more laundry detergent than usual might become apparent.
- Batteries- I know, I said I expected the utilities to stay on. But these batteries are not about flashlights, it’s about keeping the video game controllers and other critical child entertaining devices operational. Wait, are we the last family that has a gaming system that requires batteries?
- New games or activities for the kids- My guys can only play video games and watch Netflix for so long before they turn into what I affectionately call garbage screen-monsters. And don’t be fooled- the $50,000 worth of Lego sets we already have will not help during a shut-in situation. I have a new Lego set stashed in the closet. Plus, it’s high time my short roommates step up their poker game and learn Omaha.
- Pet supplies- Because pets can’t drive.
- That special product that makes life a little better- Things are going to go south really fast if I run out of canned sparkling water or that fancy eye cream that smells so nice.
- Indoor physical activity plan- If you are used to going to the gym, but suddenly it’s closed, have a back-up plan. I’m not suggesting you spend $2,500 on a stationary bike, but maybe check out the vast catalog of free yoga videos on YouTube.
- Brownie mix- During times of extreme stress, eating your feelings is a completely legit coping strategy. F*ck paleo.
- Food, prescription medications, blah, blah- the relevant stuff on the Homeland Security emergency preparedness list.
Remember, keep calm and… whatever, you know the rest.