I am not prone to panic. Worry, yes; panic, no. That said, I am worried about this COVID-19 outbreak. While there are no cases in sub-Saharan Africa yet, my gut tells me that it’s just a matter of time. I’m not being an alarmist. I’m being practical.
So, what am I going to do? I am going grocery shopping.
Some locations have seen a huge spike in the number of cases over the past few days, like Northern Italy, and others are locked-down, like Wuhan, China. In both of these places the grocery stores are either a mad-house or completely wiped out. Additionally, current WHO guidance states that anyone without a severe form of the disease should be isolated and managed from home. Remember that most cases of COVID-19 are basically nothing more than a cold (if you do not have an underlying health condition), so it’s completely do-able. But if someone in one home gets COVID-19, chances are that all other family members in that home will be self-quarantining too, which means no work, no school, no grocery shopping, etc.
At this point it’s not a bad idea to plan on potentially having to stay at home without leaving for several weeks, whether that’s due to a spike in cases, I’m sick myself, or someone else is sick. To do this, I’ll need to stock up on some basic groceries, plus some other things which I didn’t really consider at first.
When do I want to do a larger-than-normal grocery run? Now, before people are panicking and when products are still easily available? Or later, only when absolutely necessary, when thousands of my closest friends are running around the store like chickens with their heads chopped off and the shelves are bare?
I’d rather go shopping now.
I’m not saying I’m going to start canning butter or go into zombie apocalypse mode; I’m simply saying that I’m going to buy a few more of everything than usual. The main thing is that I don’t want to buy anything we wouldn’t normally need. For instance, I don’t like canned vegetables other than tomatoes, so now is not the time to start buying them.
Worst case scenario, we are prepared to spend quality time at home by ourselves for a few weeks and maintain some semblance of normal life; best case scenario, we don’t need to buy pantry products again for some time.
Without further ado, I’m buying the following, which I think is a solid list applicable to just about everyone:
- Cleaning supplies, particularly those for disinfecting things
- Dish soap
- Hand sanitizer/soap
- Paper products: toilet paper, paper towels, tissues
- Toiletries (toothpaste, shampoo, anything you use every day)
- Tylenol, Advil, etc.
- UHT or powdered milk (whole milk for M, skim milk for me)
- Canned tomatoes
- Canned beans
- Cooking oil
- Meat, eggs, or some other form of protein
- Frozen fruits and veggies
- Squash (butternut, acorn, etc: fresh squash last a long time on counter)
- Easy-to-cook frozen food (what if all adults are ill and no one wants to cook?)
- Condiments (mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, any other family favorites)
We also have a few things are specific to our household that I’ll stock up on:
- Peanut butter
- Mini-packs of Haribo gummy bears
- Granola bars
You may also want to buy if available/necessary:
- Clorox wipes
- Extras of any necessary prescription medication, if possible
- Dog food
- Cat litter
Oh, and wine. If I’m going to be stuck at home, I’m going to need some wine.
Keep in mind that in the case of a pandemic, utilities are unlikely to be affected because infrastructure won’t be damaged (probably). While it’s always a good idea to stock extra drinking water just in case, that’s not my primary focus right now.
In the meantime it’s important to stay informed. Here is the link for CDC’s COVID-19 information page, here is the link to the WHO COVID-19 page, and here’s the link to my favorite COVID-19 tracker. And don’t forget to wash your hands!