Let’s face it. Most of us are tired of hearing about the coronavirus. But there’s a reason we hear about it so much: it’s a serious issue. And the more we know about it, the better we can be prepared for it.
We’ve seen the damage that a lack of preparation can do.
So how can we be prepared? Different environments call for different actions. We’re going to break it down into three sections:
- How to Be Prepared at Home
- How to Be Prepared at Your Business
- How to Be Prepared at Schools
Social Distancing during COVID-19 Pandemic
One of the most universal recommendations across the world right now is the need for “social distancing.” This has been strongly encouraged by the WHO, CDC, and many international organizations and governments.
In other words, it means staying home as much as possible, avoiding large crowds and social events. For introverts, this may be music to their ears. For others who depend more on social interactions and are susceptible to “cabin fever,” it may be harder for them.
I personally am going to miss my medieval roleplaying events, but that’s another article in itself.
While staying home more than you’re accustomed to may bring on cabin fever, it’s better than THE fever. And the reality is, social distancing is extremely important when it comes to curtailing coronavirus.
Create a household action plan
- What are the needs of each individual family member?
- In the event that a family member becomes infected, which room in the house will you use to quarantine the sick person?
- Do you have a list of contact info for each family member? Your neighbour? Other emergency conacts?
- Are you aware of the local organizations in place to help in the event of an outbreak?
Have this plan made as soon as possible, and be sure everyone in your household is ready for it.
What to have at home in case of coronavirus lockdown
The word “lockdown” can have a fairly broad meaning, as we’ve seen throughout the world in recent weeks. But regardless of whether you’ve been asked by your local government to stay home more often, or you’ve received mandatory orders to self-isolate (or “shelter in place“) for a period of time, there are things everyone should have on hand.
One thing you should NOT DO, PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF HUMANITY is hoard and stockpile way more stuff than you actually need. Health and government authorities recommend having 14 days worth of supplies on hand. Notice that’s not 14 months.
So don’t lead the charge in a mob of panic buyers grabbing enough toilet paper to “TP” the Burj Khalifa. Rather, you’re better off slowly adding a few items to your cart during each visit to the grocery store, and building up your supplies gradually.
So, what kind of supplies are we talking about?
Before you settle in for the long haul, you’ll want to stock up on some essential food items. Your best bet is to buy dry, non-perishable items for the most part. Things like:
- Pasta sauce
- Noodles (Pro Tip: re-live your college days with some tasty instant ramen)
- Protein bars
- Coffee (Mas importante!)
- Bottled water
Because produce can be a bit scarce at times, you can always grab some frozen items as well to ensure you’re getting your nutrients:
- Frozen veggies (broccoli, corn, peppers, green beans, carrots, etc.)
- Frozen fruit (strawberries, blueberries, mango, bananas, pineapple, etc.)
And hey, lockdowns should be fun. Rarely are we told by our heads of state to take time off and watch Netflix and Disney +. So enjoy it! Grab yourself a couple of your favorite movie snacks too.
- Popcorn (Pro Tip: Skip the chemical-laden microwaved junk and get some popcorn kernels. Super easy to make and so tasty you’ll never go back. Thank me later!)
Keep in mind that even in the strictest lockdowns, such as in Italy, grocery stores and pharmacies are remaining open
Aside from food, here are a few things you may want to grab from the store as well:
- Prescription mediation (See if you’re able to get a re-fill on your prescription so you can have some extra supplies just in case. Perhaps a month’s worth or more.)
- Cleaning supplies and PPE (For regular cleaning of your home, especially if a family member becomes ill)
- First aid kit
- Hand sanitizer (If available. Please do not enable the jokers selling it for $50 a bottle on Amazon.)
- Hand soap (Soap and water does just as good a job as hand sanitizer)
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Pain medication
- Toilet paper (The apparent holy grail of lockdown essentials)
- Candles (In the event of power outages)
Preparing for coronavirus at work
Every day, more countries are beginning to enforce stricter social distancing measures. Schools and universities in many lands have closed even without direct instructions to do to. Many businesses have been ordered to cease operating, the first casualties usually being restaurants, bars, pubs, daycares, and gyms. In some places, all businesses have been asked to close, except for grocery stores, pharmacies, and emergency services.
(Side-note: There’s something strange about stocking baked beans and maintaining law and order having the same level of urgency. What a time to be alive.)
Perhaps you’re living in a region where the majority of companies are still operating, or perhaps you are working in one of the essential services organizations (police stations, hospitals, Kroger…). If so, these preparedness tips will help to ensure your safety and the safety of others as you continue to work hard for the greater good.
And may we add: Thank you for everything you are doing.
Developing a coronavirus response plan for your business
As of March 16th, the US Government encouraged everyone to avoid groups of 10 people or more. In line with this, businesses are encouraged to ask employees to work from home as much as possible.
In some cases, working from home may be difficult, depending on the type of work being done. If this is the case for your business, what else can you do to be prepared, and to keep your workers safe? Here are some important recommendations from the CDC:
- Identify potential hazards. Does your employee’s job put them in close contact with ones who could potentially be infected? Are they in an environment that could bring them in contact with the virus? (i.e. health care, police, airports) Do they have the needed personal protective equipment? Check out the Department of Labor’s guide for more info on identifying hazards.
- Review company and HR policies and ensure they’re inline with the latest direction from state and federal governments. This should be done regularly, since things are changing on a daily basis.
- Explore the possibility of minimizing person to person contact. Could shifts be staggered, for instance? Could the workspace itself be modified to increase distance among employees and/or customers?
- Remind your employees of the importance of good hygiene. Make it easier for them to stay clean too. Post signs in the work place, especially inside and outside entrances, washrooms, break rooms, and any common area. If possible, place bottles of hand sanitizer or sanitizer dispensers next to the signs.
- Increase the frequency of office cleaning. Regularly wipe surfaces, mirrors, doors, knobs and handles, mop floors, and clean bathrooms, several times a day. If possible, make disposable wipes available so that employees can wipe them down themselves after using.
- Ensure sick employees stay home. Remind them of the need to quarantine themselves for at least 14 days. This is not a suggestion, this is a command. Make sure your sick leave policy is flexible (Don’t ask them for a doctor’s note.)
- If an employee’s family member is sick, ensure that the employee also self-quarantines for 14 days.
The CDC’s Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers is constantly being updated. So make sure you check in regularly to see what the latest instructions are for businesses.
Planning and preparing schools for coronavirus
As the virus has spread throughout the world, schools and universities have had tough decisions to make. Many have closed their doors to help slow the pandemic. Perhaps your school or campus is in an area that hasn’t been greatly affected yet, and are facing the decision of what to do.
This Interim Guidance from the CDC will help you to prepare. (These guidelines and recommendations are being updated regularly. Continue to monitor the CDC website for the latest information.) The most important thing for unaffected schools to do now is plan and prepare ahead. What kind of strategies should be implemented now so you can be ready for a potential outbreak?
- Review and update emergency operations. This should be accomplished by consulting with local health departments.
- Prepare for social distancing. This could mean cancelling classes for a time, or continuing education via online classes.
- Consider altering meal arrangements. For instance, could easy to grab prepared lunch bags be an option?
- Teach and reinforce daily preventive actions. For example, washing hands regularly, staying home when feeling ill.
- Intensify cleaning and disinfection procedures. Clean doors, washrooms, and surfaces often.
- Implement information-sharing policies and methods. Include day-to-day reports with school administration and local health officials.
To further assist schools in preparing and implementing EOPs, federal agencies have created valuable resources on school planning. These plans feature a 6 step process schools can use to create a safe environment before, during, and after emergencies.
Guide For Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans (EOPs)
If coronavirus infects students or faculty
Sometimes even the best prevention plans still are not enough. In the event of a coronavirus case in your school, what are the steps that should be taken? Observe the CDC’s School Decision Tree below:
Notice that for all schools, the response should be the same when a case of COVID-19 is discovered: Contact local health officials. Together, it can be decided how long any dismissal should be, whether it’s a few days, or longer. In the event of a case of COVID-19, these steps must be followed:
- Coordinate with local health officials.
- Dismiss students for 2-5 days or longer.
- Inform staff, parents and students.
- Clean and disinfect thoroughly.
- Ensure continuity of education and meal programs.
Caring for needs of students
As we monitor the news on a daily (ok, more like hourly) basis, it’s natural that we may feel some nervousness or anxiety.
Imagine how kids and teens may feel.
It’s important that we look after the physical needs of our students. But we don’t want to forget about their mental and emotional needs. The CDC has created a helpful infographic about how we can comfort our students during a crisis such as a pandemic.
Keep calm and carry on
Yes, the above phrase has been beaten to death and misused in a number of cringey ways to sell t-shirts and mugs, but the original use of this expression served a good purpose. It’s a reminder that when faced with unprecedented events such as this current pandemic, panicking will help no one. Keeping calm, following direction, and looking for ways to help one another is ultimately the best way for us to go.
Sure, we miss the days we could just turn on the TV, and see last night’s football highlights. Life has been heavily modified, to say the least. We’ve had to change our schedules and our daily routines. It’s weird. You might get a little stir crazy in your home.
It’s a sacrifice, but in the end it will be well worth it, when millions of lives are saved around the world. All thanks to the individual efforts of every person alive on it.