March 15, 2020
As noted by CDC, developing and implementing a household plan of action is a key element of protection your family against the coronavirus.
In developing an action plan, it is worth considering why it is necessary. Research has shown that older people and those with impaired health are at the greatest risk. Whether or not anyone in your immediately family is in the high risk group, every infected person can infect others, including those in the high risk group. Consequently, actions taken by your family that reduces their risk of infection not only benefits them but also reduces the risk of infection by everyone you come into contact with. Moreover, actions taken by your family to reduce their risk of infection can reduce the speed at which the virus spreads, which reduces the risk that our healthcare system will be overwhelmed (which experience in other countries has shown could dramatically increase the fatality rate, especially those in the high risk group).
Although there are no doubt many variations of a household plan, we (the Duval Household) have developed a plan that we believe will help us:
(a) Reduce the risk of family members being exposed to the coronavirus
(b) Reduce the risk of family members becoming infected by the coronavirus
(c) Prepare us to deal with (i) a quarantine, whether a self-quarantine or a government mandated quarantine, a curfew or self-isolation, and (ii) a disruption in the supply chain
(d) Prepare us to deal with a wide public panic
(e) Prepare us to deal with an infection
Although a work in progress, below are the strategies that we use to reduce the risk of our family members being exposed to or infected by the coronavirus. I will update this plan to address other components in our household plan (described in clauses (c), (d) and (e)). We appreciate any comments or suggestions.
1. Reduce Risk of Exposure and Infection
We have adopted two primary strategies to protect family members by reducing their risk of being (i) exposed to the coronavirus, or (ii) infected by the coronavirus.
A. Defend Yourself
[Note: According to the CDC, it is believe that the coronavirus is primarily transmitted from person to person. And, as noted by researchers, 70% to 80% of infections in China resulted from transmission among family members. This risk is worsened by the fact that the virus can be transmitted by people that are asymptomatic. Accordingly, if any family becomes infected with the coronavirus, then there is a high risk that all of your family members will become infected. So, the best way to reduce the risk of your family members becoming infected is adopt strategies that reduce the risk of any family member becoming infected.]
- Follow recommendations of CDC and other public health officials
- Stay home from work, school and all other activities when you are sick with COVID-19 symptoms, which may include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.
- Keep away from others who are sick. o Limiting close contact with others as much as possible (maintain 6 feet distance from others). [Note: Some have recommended at least 3 feet, but Evidence suggests that the coronavirus may be able to travel via respiratory droplets up to 6 feet from an infected person] o Practice everyday preventive actions, including:
- Cover coughs and sneezes, with a tissue if possible
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds – if soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains 60% alcohol
- Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects daily using a regular household detergent and water
- Stop touching your face
- [Note: Although this is recommended by health officials, most (if not all) of us touch their face subconsciously and frequently. Accordingly, this is not be a realistic precaution, which makes frequent hand washing more important, particular after exposure to potentially contaminated surfaces.]
- Minimize Exposure to Other People (Social Distancing)
- Avoid unnecessary contact with non-family members
- Maintain at least 6 feet distance from others if possible – avoid places where you cannot maintain this distance o Don’t hold or attend large meetings or gatherings
- Minimize touching things that others are touching and, when unavoidable, sanitize your hands afterwards
- No sharing of food with non-family members
- Our Application of social distancing rules
- Stay at home as much as possible
- Work remotely when possible
- Avoid crowded places (including elevations — if an elevator is crowded, take the stairs or wait for the next elevator)
- Eat at home or take it with you — avoid restaurants and convenient food (including places such as Starbucks)
- Find ways to entertain yourself at home or outside
- Avoid active gyms – consider ways to workout at home or in more isolated ways such as biking, running, swimming, walking, etc.
- Order goods online when possible — if you need to go to stores, go during off hours if possible
- Avoid mass transportation
- Avoid air travel
- Don’t let others touch your personal items such as your cell phone or promptly sanitize such item
- Use telemedicine when available
- Other Protective Measures
- Surgical masks and N95 masks
- [Note: The CDC does not recommend that the general public wear N95 respirators to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including coronavirus (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, there are different views on the benefit of masks. We have purchased some masks but have not yet used any of them. While that may change if circumstances warrant, we are currently focused on social distancing and defending our home against the virus (strategies on defending out home are described below. However, if you decide to use masks, please do not overly rely on masks to protect you – their effectiveness is limited. See, e.g., https://www.livescience.com/face-mask-new-coronavirus.html. Also, masks should not be reused or shared.]
- Latex Gloves
- [Note: We have purchased gloves but are currently not using them. While this may change, we if circumstances warrant, we are currently focused on social distancing and defending our home against the virus.
- Surgical masks and N95 masks
B. Defend Your Home
[Note: We live in a high rise condominium building, so some of our containment strategies may not apply or have to be adapted.]
- No one enters house without sanitizing hands (we have a Purell dispenser in our entry way)
- Periodically sanitize surfaces that are used frequently or by multiple family members such as door knobs, kitchen counters, refrigerator handles, kitchen cabinets, bathroom surfaces and toilet handles, TV controls, etc.
- Sanitize items that you bring into your home such as your cell phone
- No packages brought into your home (all packages opened outside)
- Do not bring shoes into your home
- Minimize the number of people allowed into your home
- Consider ways to mitigate risks posed by household staff such as housekeepers and nannies
- [Note: We are struggling with this one, but we are considering requiring our housekeeper to take additional precautions]
2. Prepare for a quarantine, curfew or self-isolation as well as disruptions in the supply chain
- Stock up on food, medicine and other essentials
- We are maintaining at least a 30 day supply of food on hand, and a much longer supply of medicine (> 6 months), including prescription and non-prescription
- [Note: I am evaluating purchasing a longer supply of freeze dried food, but no decision yet]
- Department of Homeland Security recommends at least a 2 week supply of food and medicine
- New York Times recommends at least a 30 day supply of groceries, medicine and other resources
- Other items
- Items include soap, toiletries, laundry detergent, toilet paper and diapers (if you have small children)