One of the top officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently warned Americans that health experts foresee the spreading of the coronavirus within the United States.

This doesn’t mean you should panic. But it does mean you should prepare for coronavirus so that you’re ready, in case it does come to your area.  


“We expect we will see community spread in this country. It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness.” – Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.


The agency tweeted Tuesday evening that Americans should think about getting ready.

“Now is the time for US businesses, hospitals, and communities to begin preparing for the possible spread of #COVID19,” it wrote, referring to the name the World Health Organization has given the novel coronavirus. “CDC continues to work with business, education & healthcare sectors, encouraging employers to be prepared.”



Preparing For Coronavirus

But what exactly should people be doing to prepare for coronavirus? 

The CDC’s announcement didn’t really get into the nitty-gritty details, which left a lot of worried parents wondering what to do.

There is some good news. According to the available data, the virus (technically called SARS-CoV2) spreads at about the same rate as the flu, and is so far less fatal. 

Early indications are that coronavirus is not a serious threat to kids (unless they have an already compromised immune system). So for the most part, parents can breathe a collective sigh of relief.

Still, the data also shows that the virus spreads fast, has a long incubation period, and the most vexing part of all… no one knows how bad it could get. 

In situations like this there are a couple of things parents can do: Review the current data and prepare for coronavirus as best you can based on the available facts.

Also, keep a mobile hand washing system like this one handy! 

There is no better way to prevent a virus from spreading than by washing your hands with soap.

Be sure your kids are consistently washing their hands as well. This is virus prevention 101.

RELATED: Explaining Scary News To Kids


Here’s what we know about coronavirus so far, and what parents (and kids) can do to prepare.


What Are The Symptoms?

Symptoms of coronavirus can include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and potentially more. 

Unfortunately, there’s not enough data (yet) to know the usual severity of the above symptoms, or if they’re the only ones that will come with coronavirus.

What we do know is that the severity of symptoms varies greatly – with some infected people having only minor symptoms, while others get severely ill.

Contact your health care provider immediately if you or a loved one have symptoms.


How Parents Can Prepare: 

Since you don’t know what might come at you, it’s a good idea to stock up on the basics. 

This would include cough drops, painkillers, elderberry (there’s decent evidence this helps shorten viral infections and cuts down mucus), tea, bone broth, and ibuprofen for fever. 

There is also some evidence that zinc lozenges help block viruses from multiplying in your throat and nasopharynx. You may want to stock up on those also and use as directed. 

Based on what the CDC is saying so far, it seems like coronavirus brings more cough than mucus, but get tissues too. Just in case. 


Should I Leave The House?

“Social distancing” is a word you will hear more and more these days. Basically it means STAY HOME.

Don’t go to any type of group event. Avoid any kind of travel, and only go out if it’s for necessary supplies or doctor’s appointments.

Pay attention to the information coming form your local city and state agencies. Many areas are enacting quarantine protocols (such as closing schools, restaurants, and bars) and you want to stay on top of that information!

If you’re diagnosed with coronavirus, the CDC recommends a 14-day quarantine. That means keeping 6 feet of distance between you and other people.

If you aren’t sick enough to be hospitalized, stay in your own room and preferably designate a specific bathroom for your own use. 

Some people experience diarrhea or stomach issues with the virus and it’s not yet clear if that is another way the virus is spread.

If you start to feel ill, health care professionals recommend seeking medical attention quickly.

It may NOT be SARS-CoV2 (you could have the regular flu or a cold), but contacting doctor early will help you get the treatment you need faster. 


How Parents Can Prepare:

There are a few things you might want to pick up from the store in advance, just in case you contract the virus. 

Stock up on any daily medications you need (have at least a 30-day supply ready). Keep common medications like painkillers on hand. 

Also be sure you have food staples, nonperishables, household cleaners, and paper towels to keep the virus from spreading to other family members.

And if you have small children, be sure to stock up on extra formula, diapers and wipes.

Don’t forget your fur babies. Buying extra dog or cat food might be a good idea as well.


How Does The Virus Spread?

While there is still a lot we don’t know, coronavirus seems to spread when people come in contact with people, surfaces, or air particles direct from a sneeze or cough carrying the virus. This is similar to the flu or the common cold.

This also means the precautions you would normally take during flu season also apply to the coronavirus.

Surfaces where the droplets land can be infectious for up to a week. But the only way for the virus to pass to you is through your nose or mouth. So be mindful of where you place your hands! 

Avoid touching public surfaces, and avoid touching your nose or mouth after being in public.


How Parents Can Prepare:

We’re going to say it again, wash your hands! Use soap, and be sure to wash for 10-20 seconds.

Make sure your children wash their hands frequently as well. 

Avoid spreading the illness. Stay home from work if you are sick. Keep your child home from school if they are sick. 

Cough into your elbow. Keep the surfaces in your house clean.

When you’re out, be sure NOT to touch your face and mouth after touching any surface that could carry a virus until you thoroughly wash your hands. Same goes for your kiddos.

Use disinfectant wipes at the grocery store to wipe the handle and seats of the carts. 

Don’t shake hands with people. Try a head nod and smile instead.

Use only your knuckle to push elevator buttons, light switches, etc. Use a paper towel as a barrier when opening door knobs, particularly bathroom doors.

Keep a bottle of hand sanitizer in your car for situations when you don’t have access to soap and water.  Or carry a mobile hand washing water bottle with you.


Just how Contagious Is It?

Coronavirus is highly contagious and extremely spreadable.

It has a long incubation period, so some people will only exhibit mild symptoms or no symptoms at all, which might make them go to work or school without realizing they’re ill. 


How Parents Can Prepare:

Think like an introvert and practice some social distancing measures. 

Call your child’s school and ask what the plan is if the virus starts spreading rapidly in your community. If they don’t have a plan, get the ball rolling by suggesting they create one. 

You can do the same thing at the office. Make sure there’s a work-from-home or other strategy in place should an outbreak occur in your area.


Will A Face Mask Prevent The Virus?

Probably not. 

It might seem like a good idea to put one on when you go out in public to block germs. Trouble is, there is no solid evidence that masks actually help.

If someone in your family gets sick, however, they might want to wear a face mask at home to help reduce the spread to other family members.


How Parents Can Prepare: 

Resist the urge to stockpile masks and stick to regular old soap and water instead. Hand washing is still the most effective way to prevent infection.

So there you have it. How can parents prepare for coronavirus?

Make a plan should the virus start to spread, wash your hands (a lot!), keep an eye on the CDC website for updates, and prepare your bedroom to quarantine yourself if you get sick.


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