The World Health Organization has declared COVID-19, or coronavirus, to be a pandemic. We've read countless stories about how hand sanitizer is nowhere to be found and people are panic-buying toilet paper, but how necessary is stockpiling? Is there a right way to stockpile? There sure is. Here's what the CDC and other experts are recommending people do.
What You Should Stock Up On
1. Extra prescribed medications
In case there's an outbreak of coronavirus in your community, it's worth contacting your healthcare provider now to ask about obtaining extra necessary medications to have on hand and you need to stay home for a prolonged period of time. (If you can't get extra medications, consider using mail-order for prescriptions.) Considering the self-quarantine time frame is 14 days, it's worth having at least two weeks to a month's worth of any necessary medications on hand.
2. Over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies
Many people will be able to recover from coronavirus at home. For that reason, experts are recommending buying over-the-counter medications to treat fever and other symptoms.
3. Enough food for at least two weeks
Primarily non-perishables that won’t go bad while in storage. This includes baby food and formula for infants, as well as pet food. (Here's a helpful guide from The New York Times for stocking your pantry.)
4. Cleaning supplies and, yes, paper goods
For your home and hands. On top of washing your hands thoroughly and regularly, remember to sanitize any items you're bringing into your house from outside, including groceries. In terms of the whole toilet paper thing, you'll want enough to last a few weeks, but it's important to think about how stockpiling toilet paper en masse could be taking it away from people who need enough to live.
What You Shouldn't Stock Up On
1. Surgical masks
Right now, the CDC doesn’t recommend that people who are well wear a face mask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses—including the coronavirus. You should only wear a mask if a health provider recommends doing so. Additionally, last month, the surgeon general urged the public to stop stockpiling masks, warning that it might limit the resources available to doctors, nurses and other emergency professionals.