SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – Officials with the CDC are warning it’s not a matter of if – but when – the coronavirus will spread into clusters of cases here in the US.
Right now California has more confirmed cases of the coronavirus than any other state in the country, with a total of 28 cases.
In a news conference on Thursday, Governor Gavin Newsom said the CDC is promising to send California more testing kits and will update its protocols after the agency took four days to test a Solano County resident for the coronavirus. That patient is now being treated at UC Davis Medical Center.
Officials say now is the time to prepare.
Here are 10 questions answered about how to prepare, as first reported by CNN:
What should I buy?
The US Department of Homeland Security recommends on its website that, before a pandemic strikes, to store a two-week supply of water and food, as well as over-the-counter medications you commonly take.
If you already have an emergency supply kit, great! If not, now’s a good time to make one.
You can buy ready-made emergency preparedness kits or you can build your own. Many of the must-have supplies are already in your home, from a manual can opener to hygiene items, but you may need more to last two weeks or longer.
Here’s a list of what should be inside your emergency preparedness kit, as recommended by the American Red Cross and Ready.gov, which educates people in the U.S. on what to do to prepare for natural and manmade disasters, from earthquakes to wildfires.
Water is very important. Officials say you’ll need a gallon of water a day per person and pet to drink, cook with, and clean.
Nonperishable, easy-to-prepare foods are also recommended for your emergency kit.
It’s also important to have a first aid kit that includes a thermometer so you can keep abreast of your own health situation during the pandemic.
What places should I avoid?
The CDC recommends you avoid all nonessential travel to mainland China and South Korea. People with chronic medical conditions and the elderly are also advised to delay nonessential travel to Italy, Iran, and Japan, where the virus is spreading at a rapid pace.
Closer to home, if you’re wondering whether or not to avoid public, communal spaces like the grocery store, library, shopping mall, or post office, health officials recommend you be aware and avoid close contact with people who may be sick.
Should I keep my child home from school?
In general, it is advisable as you want to limit your child’s exposure to protect other students, teachers, and staff from getting sick.
You should also monitor your local school closings for the latest information.
According to the CDC, a coronavirus pandemic could lead to schools, daycare centers, and other places for mass gatherings to experience an increase in absences or even fully shut down if needed.
In preparation, several Bay Area school districts have already been contacted by the CDC to get ready for the outbreak.
In a statement, the Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District said it was notified by the CDC to “urge school sites to prepare for a possible outbreak” and that it has been working with Solano County Public Health over the past few weeks as “health and safety of our students and staff are a top priority.”
Parents of children in the Vacaville Unified School District also received a similar notice.
Should I work from home?
The CDC says you should talk to your employer about whether working online will be an option if needed.
The CDC has posted tips on its website to help businesses and employers plan for possibly including telework or flexible sick leave policies in motion if there is significant spread of coronavirus nationwide.
The CDC reports that workers who are sick shouldn’t return to work until their temperature has stayed below 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 24 hours, without the help of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicine.
What about my medications?
Make sure you have a continuous supply of your regular prescription drugs at home if needed in preparation for a pandemic, according to the US Department of Homeland Security.
Also, it could be helpful to get copies and maintain electronic versions of health records from doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and other sources and keep them in a safe place for your personal records.
What if I have to go to the doctor?
Talk to your doctor about telehealth options. Most doctors offer the option so you can have an appointment over the phone or via Facetime or Skype.
If yours does not, ask your doctor to recommend a physician who does.
What’s the deal with facemasks?
If you are not sick, the CDC says you don’t need to wear a face mask.
If you are a health care professional or a person caring for someone infected with the virus in close quarters, wearing a mask is recommended.
Those who have the coronavirus and are showing symptoms are advised by the CDC to wear masks in order to protect other people from getting infected.
The CDC does not recommend N95 respirator masks for the general public, but rather for healthcare workers.
What are other good measures to take to avoid getting sick?
There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease, so the best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus, according to the CDC.
The CDC also notes that there are several things to do to prevent the spread of any respiratory diseases:
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and throw the tissue away
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects
- Wash your hands often with soap and water
The proper way to wash your hands is for at least 20 seconds, especially before eating, after going to the bathroom and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
The CDC is reminding you that it’s also still flu season in the United States, so if you haven’t already gotten your flu vaccine – now may be a good time get one.
What if someone in my house has the virus (or thinks they do)?
Health officials say coronavirus symptoms mirror those of the flu – fever, cough, shortness of breath, etc.
The CDC says you should call your doctor as soon as possible if you develop symptoms within two weeks after travel from China or have had close contact with someone who has traveled and is showing symptoms.
Your doctor will work with your state’s public health department and the CDC to determine if you need to be tested for the coronavirus.
Remember that those infected with the virus might not show symptoms for up to 14 days after exposure.
If you are sick, the CDC recommends you stay home and separate yourself from other people and animals in your household.
The CDC recommends you wear a face mask if you are sick to prevent the spread of your coughs and sneezes.
Remember to wash your hands often and avoid sharing personal items such as bedding or utensils.
Where do I go for more information?
KRON4 has you covered with everything you need to know – from preparedness measures to the latest numbers from the CDC. Check out the latest on the coronavirus in our special Coronavirus section online.
If you have more questions about the novel coronavirus, reach out to your local health department or find more information on the CDC’s website.
It’s also not a bad idea to enroll in Public Alerts, Citizen Alert or a service in your county to be notified via text, call or email by emergency response agencies when you need to take action such as shelter-in-place or evacuate.