Prepping for COVID-19

I read the news, I hear what people all over the world are saying, and yes, I’ve read a few books on the end of the world. Written a few, too. So I’m going to give my thoughts on this whole epidemic.

It’s probably not as bad, or going to get as bad, as some people think, but it’s also not just “a bad flu” or something that washing your hands more than usual is going to fix. You can “what if” yourself into a high(er) blood pressure bracket, or you can prep, or you can blow it off and be caught unprepared. Your choice, of course, but I’d rather be ready and wrong than not.

We’ve been ready for the “whatevers” for eight years now, and in different ways depending on where we’ve lived. For the first three years, we lived in St. Louis County; since then, we’ve been out here in the middle of the woods. It’s a lot harder to avoid people when you’re surrounded by them, and often you don’t think about all those with whom you come into contact on a daily basis.

For instance, early on in our prepping, we saw people at the bookstore, we got food delivery, my husband worked in retail, we ran errands and shopped, and our son went to school. In one day, all of us were exposed to several hundred people who in turn had been exposed to several hundred more and so on…so if you live in an urban or suburban area, this is you, now, with COVID-19 running loose.

Oh, you’re washing your hands more often? Good for you. Too bad everyone isn’t, especially those who think COVID-19 is no big deal. Think long and hard about how many people you come into contact with, and how many those in your household also run into in the course of a day or a week.

Out here, we rarely see anyone unless we go to town for something. But when the nearby Army fort is closing to the public and guard gates are manned by soldiers wearing protective gear, you get a little antsy. Just a little. My neighbors have been sick lately—not COVID-19, but other respiratory issues, which can weaken one’s immune system if they happen to be exposed to something else. And this could be you, too, whether or not you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic illness.

Some people talk about a worst-case scenario with a lot of what-ifs and, sure, it could happen. Probably won’t, but my personal opinion is that we’ll know more in the next few weeks. Some people deal with this by assuming they can get things delivered so won’t have to go out and be exposed; that’s great, unless the delivery person is sick or the restaurant worker who handled your food is sick. And even if you don’t get exposed then and there, will there be enough people coming to work to keep the restaurant functioning?

And it’s not just food. Make a list of EVERYTHING you use or eat or drink on a daily basis for two weeks—that’s the minimum, that’s the time you’d be quarantined if you were exposed. Now add things to that list that you might need if you got sick. There’s a lot more than people tend to think about.

Everyone talks about having enough of your prescriptions, but what about OTC meds? Do you have enough Advil (especially if you get sick), antibiotic cream, cortisone cream, lotion, Bandaids, allergy meds, etc.? Toothpaste, shampoo, soap? The ever-memed toilet paper, tissues, paper towels, trash bags? What do you normally eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, desserts? Too many people, especially in urban areas, still have the mindset that they can “run to the store” and pick up something. Maybe you can’t, either because of illness or quarantine or maybe the store ran out. Plan ahead. That’s all this is.

On Facebook this morning, I mentioned that the media refers to preppers as “panicked.” I don’t know any preppers who are panicking—it’s non-preppers who seem to be either worrying, panicking, or blowing off the whole thing. When you’re a prepper, you analyze what you know, determine the worst-case scenario, and plan accordingly. Then you don’t have to worry, and certainly don’t have to panic. And if that worst-case doesn’t happen, well, at the very least you won’t have to buy groceries for a while.

However, as I finished up this blog post, WHO declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. There’s a case being tested in the county next door to me. Many events in large cities are being canceled through April—although others are not. Many colleges are closing campuses and switching to online classes.

At this point, all I can do is double-check my supplies and prepare to hunker down; I have plenty to do on the farm, after all. I’m not particularly afraid of contracting the illness, although I don’t want to share it with my husband. I’m not afraid of running out of food or other things I need, or even some that I want. I’m not afraid of being bored when isolated or quarantined, if it comes to that. But here’s the thing, if everyone limits contact, there’s a lower chance of COVID-19 spreading. Sure, most people have no to mild symptoms, but for others it’s much more serious, and if the hospitals are full of people who need treatment, what happens to those who need treatment or surgery for other random issues that everyone experiences from time-to-time? That’s the big question, really, as to whether this outbreak is serious enough to prepare for almost anything.

The media keeps saying “our lives will change in many ways” but they don’t say how or what:

Imagine being inside, or on your patio even, and going NOWHERE ELSE for at least two weeks, or maybe even two months or more. Do you read? Do you watch movies? How will you keep busy?

Imagine deciding to call for a pizza, and there’s no one open, no pizza, and no delivery drivers available—and any one of the people involved could be infected.

Imagine then deciding to make your own pizza—do you have flour, yeast, salt? Pizza or tomato sauce and a few herbs? Cheese or vegetables or meat to top that pizza?

Imagine that you can rely on no one but yourself. Are you ready for that?

No more going to the movies, or stopping by the library to pick up a book; no more grabbing a beer with friends after work; no more work, perhaps, at least not in the office. So many things we do without thinking.


This morning, someone posted that the CDC kept warning us about COVID19 but hadn’t told us what to do—she wondered if we should buy masks or stock canned goods. And of course, she “thanked” Trump for slashing the CDC budget so they couldn’t “protect” us. She also mentioned that the CDC was responsible for “confining” the virus.

Naturally, I responded with “what exactly are they supposed to do that they aren’t doing or can’t do? They’ve already said to wash your hands, stay home if you’re sick, etc.” and her reply was “Okay, I’ll just listen to Trump and not worry about it. The CDC is probably making a big deal about it anyway.”

I have a lot of problems with this conversations.

First, yes, the CDC has told us to up our handwashing game, that masks don’t work, COVID19 is likely to get to the point of community spread.

Second, no, they haven’t said to stock food and supplies but to me, and to many, that’s a common sense approach even for a wait and see problem—in other words, before it becomes an emergency.

Third, any budget cuts do not prevent the CDC from expanding on their list of precautions—money doesn’t limit their words in a press release or interview, they could certainly add to their list if the situation warranted it.

Fourth, while the CDC’s purpose IS to control the introduction and spread of infectious diseases, in point of fact, both of these things are impossible for a government agency. The CDC can become aware of a disease, the CDC can make recommendations to slow the spread of a disease, and the CDC can research and concoct a vaccine or a cure. Many people make the mistake of thinking the CDC can actually control these things. And saying so, honestly, makes you look kind of naïve.

Fifth, her last comment of “okay, fine” was the equivalent of another dig at Trump and a blatant willingness to overlook any other single thing I said which, in essence, was “It’s not a bad idea to stock up on a few things just in case, and to do so for any potential emergency.”

Some people refuse to take care of themselves at all, relying on the government to tell the truth, in a timely fashion, and for SOMEONE to make sure they’re fed and medicated and so forth. Don’t be that person. Use common sense—I promise, it won’t hurt you.

Here are my recommendations:

Avoid places with large numbers of people—those people could have been anywhere in the last month, maybe even China; or sat on a plane next to someone who had; or—there are plenty of scenarios.

Have enough food, water, medicine, and other supplies to last you a month—and that’s conservative. You might feel well, you might BE well, and you may still be able to go out and shop; but will there be anything in the store? Those who package the food may become sick, or those who deliver it, or those who work at the stores. Yes, even the almighty Amazon may be effected.

Keep your gas tank full, in case maybe you need or want to go elsewhere, particularly if you have a welcome destination and you live in a large, heavily populated area. Keep all your important papers in one accessible location so you can grab those too, if it comes down to that.

And finally, read about COVID19. It doesn’t help anyone to bury your head in the sand. Read different points of view, listen to different announcements, and draw your own conclusions. Depend on yourself.