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How to plan for getting COVID-19

May 15, 2020 • read

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How to plan for getting COVID-19

With provinces lifting restrictions and beginning to open up, Canadians are starting to hope that the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us. But while we’ve managed to flatten the curve, health officials are warning that we’re not out of the woods yet. It’s possible we’ll see a second wave of infections in the fall and further outbreaks after that until a working vaccine is widely available. So if opening up the country means you’re more at risk of getting sick, how should you prepare yourself? To help temper some of that worry, we’ve compiled a list of how to plan for getting COVID-19.

Am I going to get really sick?

You might, but it’s more likely that you won’t. Only a small number of people who get COVID-19 end up at the hospital. The rest have mild or moderate flu-like symptoms and a large number are completely asymptomatic. But because the novel coronavirus spreads so easily, if you have symptoms or have been in contact with someone who’s tested positive for COVID-19, you must self-isolate. While we all know that we need a two-week supply of food at home, preparing for the possibility of getting sick with COVID-19 involves more than stockpiling toilet paper. Here’s what you should consider.

Make sure you have the right food for getting sick

While pasta is never a bad idea, it’s not usually the first thing you crave while sick. Soup is both comforting and hydrating, two things we tend to want when we’re sick. Since canned or instant soup is cheap and lasts forever, it’s not a bad idea to have some in the cupboard. If you have kids though, consider stocking up on more than just soup. Children seem to be more likely to have a mild version of COVID-19 than adults. This means that the virus could cause little more than a sore throat in your little ones while keeping you in bed for two weeks. Have some heat-and-serve meals in your freezer as a backup — it’s doubtful you’ll be up to making dinner in that state.

Stock up on any medications you might need

Over-the-counter pain medication is a great thing to have on hand when you’re feeling crummy. Both acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil) are fine — there’s no evidence that ibuprofen makes COVID-19 worse. If you take prescription medication, have a small stockpile of it on-hand as well. If the amount of medication your pharmacist can give you is restricted right now, consider setting up a delivery date with your pharmacy ahead of time. That way you can “set it and forget it” while still making sure you have what you need. 

Prepare a hospital “go bag”

No one wants to think that they’ll be one of the worst case scenarios, but it’s possible. And if you do need in-hospital treatment, you likely won’t have time (or be in any shape) to pack a bag. Leave your hospital bag by the door and make sure to include a change of clothes (or two), essential toiletries, a charging cable and your health card. Likely you’ll just have to unpack it once this is all over, but in case you don’t, it might make your hospital stay that much easier.

Make a plan for your loved ones

Is anyone dependent on you? If you end up in the hospital, or terribly sick at home, do you have someone to walk Fido or watch your kids? If you’re breastfeeding, formula can work in a pinch. But if you have the opportunity now, it might be worthwhile to pump some extra milk for freezing. You could even put together some activity kits for your kids in case they get a mild version and you end up with an intense flu-like one. Nothing’s worse than having your kids whining at you to play when you feel awful.

Make a self-quarantine plan

Even if you only get a mild version of COVID-19, you’ll still need to quarantine yourself from any other members of your household to make sure they don’t get sick. While Chris Cuomo can comfortably camp out in his basement for two weeks, that might not be an option for all of us. If you have to share a bathroom with others, for example, consider what a cleaning protocol would look like if one of you gets sick. While there have been stories of people camping out in their driveways for lack of a place to self-isolate indoors, your plan doesn’t have to be that extreme. But it’s best to have an idea of what you’d do before you get sick.

While it’s not a pleasant thought, opening the country back up means there might be a second wave of COVID-19 infections. Hopefully you won’t get it, and if you do, hopefully your symptoms will be mild. But if you do end up getting a bad case, you’ll be glad you had a plan in place. If you think you might have COVID-19, talk to your doctor or take an online COVID-19 screening.

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