You'll need to do more than just track down toilet paper.
Schools are going virtual, companies are telling employees to work remotely and people are staying home. The coronavirus, which was declared a pandemic on March 11, means we'll all be spending way more time inside.
The rapid spread of the virus means more of us will choose -- or be forced to -- minimize our time outside of home with a quarantine or extreme social distancing. As the CDC explains, "The virus that causes COVID-19 is infecting people and spreading easily from person to person." As officials address the public health emergency, social distancing and self-quarantine measures are encouraged to prevent the rapid spread of coronavirus cases and as experts call it, "flatten the curve."
Social distancing, isolation and quarantine each have different goals, but all of these protocols are designed to limit the spread of COVID-19, the disease that results from the novel coronavirus, and other communicable diseases.
Here's what each term means, according to US Department of Health and Human Services and the CDC:
Many US cities are already exercising social distancing protocols and declaring the coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency, enabling health officials to implement measures that protect the public.
But the question many people are asking is: Should I self-quarantine to prevent exposure to the coronavirus?
The CDC advises all people over the age of 60 as well as the immunocompromised to practice strict social distancing and suggests they "stay home as much as possible." Even still, individuals (like me) who are immunocompromised may choose to self-quarantine or practice some kind of hybrid of social distancing and quarantine while the virus takes hold in their communities.
However, we may all find ourselves in some version of a quarantine or extreme social distancing.
There's a lot more to preparing for a coronavirus quarantine than hoarding toilet paper and bottled water. Drawing from the advice of the CDC, HHS, World Health Organization and experts CNET spoke with, this quarantine checklist will get you and your family prepared for spending a lot of time at home.
Note that we aren't providing exact quantities -- that'll vary depending on the size of your family. Quantities will also be influenced by how much quarantine time you want to be ready for (two weeks is a good minimum, but one month is better).
Finally, note that hoarding and preparation are two very different things -- we're not advocating for emptying Costco's shelves of toilet paper and those delicious little potstickers. The recommendation is to get enough necessary supplies for a potential quarantine.
It needs to be said: If you or any family members have not gotten a flu shot and you're still healthy, go get one. The flu shot does not prevent people from contracting COVID-19, but it does help in a few important ways.
Getting a flu shot dramatically reduces the likelihood of getting the flu, which means fewer admittances to hospitals, freeing up health care providers to address patients with COVID-19 (and other illnesses). By avoiding the flu, you're also helping your body's immune system stay strong, so it can fight off other communicable diseases, like COVID-19.
Finally, getting a flu shot is about empathy and responsibility for the community; by reducing your chances of getting the flu, you are especially helping those with weakened immune systems stay healthy and as protected as possible from COVID-19.
Many of us who work an eight-hour workday spend at least that much time outside of our homes. And during that time, we're relying on our employers or other businesses for essentials like toilet paper and meals.
After you've determined the amount of quarantine time you want to prepare for, grab the appropriate quantity of these items, as outlined by Ready.gov. This is certainly not an exhaustive list -- your needs will vary depending on the things you rely on every day.
There is no definitive list of food items, but there are some food items that work better than others. You might also want to audit your kitchen toolkit, in case you find yourself prepping more meals from scratch while stuck indoors.
Read more: 10 cookbooks to get you through quarantine
If you're lucky enough to continue working remotely during the outbreak, you'll want to make sure you have everything you need to work effectively. CNET's Justin Jaffe compiled this helpful list of work-from-home essentials, including standing desk and monitor recommendations. Also consider some of these best practices, based on my experience working remotely so far:
Read more: Skype vs. Zoom: Which is better for working from home?
Losing your routine and being stuck indoors can put a strain on one's mental health. Here are some things to plan ahead for.
Medical appointments: If you need medical support that doesn't require immediate admittance, get to know your insurance provider's telemedicine -- or video appointment -- services. For instance, my insurance provider supports Doctor on Demand visits for a $10 co-pay. Depending on you or your family members' needs, the physician can prescribe medications, which you can often choose to have delivered.
Exercise: You don't need a Peloton to work out at home. Plenty of YouTube channels offer free workout videos and workout apps get you an experience on par with an in-studio class. If you're feeling ambitious, you might even consider creating a DIY Peloton. Here's our complete guide to working out at home.
Keep your spirits up. As the outbreak spreads and the death toll increases, many people may find themselves deeply worried -- or even panicked. During these times, your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Amanda Capritto spoke to a psychotherapist who offered some practical tips for staying sane during the outbreak.
Read more: The best at-home fitness equipment in 2020
If you're participating in a quarantine or self-quarantine that doesn't forbid you from leaving the house, there may be occasions when you'll go out into the world, such as to get groceries or visit a family member. When you do, follow these tips for avoiding exposure to COVID-19 and make sure to wash your hands thoroughly and often.
When you return home -- or in the event someone visits your home -- be sure to sanitize your house. This means using disinfecting products to wipe down frequently used surfaces, including countertops, doorknobs, faucets and tables. Many retailers are currently sold out of disinfecting products, like Lysol, online and in stores. So, here are some alternatives to wipes and sprays.
Though the initial response to the novel coronavirus in the US was to go out and buy face masks, health officials have since asked the public to stop buying them, unless someone is sick and needs to reduce the chances of transmitting COVID-19 to others. So, no, you don't need to stock up on face masks -- save them for healthcare workers and those who are ill.