April 6, 2020, 6:17 p.m. ET

How to Protect Yourself and Prepare for the Coronavirus

With a clear head and some simple tips, you can help reduce your risk, prepare your family and do your part to protect others.

The coronavirus continues to spread worldwide, with over 1.2 million confirmed cases and at least 72,000 dead. In the United States, there have been at least 350,000 cases and more than 10,500 deaths, according to a New York Times database.

The coronavirus is spreading very quickly. Older Americans, those with underlying health conditions and those without a social safety net are the most vulnerable to the infection and to its societal disruption.

Though life as we know it is sharply off kilter, there are measures you can take.

Most important: Do not panic. With a clear head and some simple tips, you can help reduce your risk, prepare your family and do your part to protect others.

For people fortunate enough to be able to stay home, being stuck inside 24 hours a day for weeks on end is unlike anything any of us has ever experienced. It’s a whole new set of stressors and unique experiences — on top of the very real cabin fever that can set in. But as difficult as sheltering in place can be, remember that it’s all about keeping you, your loved ones and your community safe.

First, remember that it’s OK to feel stressed and unproductive; give yourself permission to feel whatever it is you’re feeling. Because we’re spending so much time online, it can feel like you’re falling behind — why haven’t I finished that book and knitted that scarf and cooked that feast yet?!“but staying inside and attending to basic needs is plenty.” And if you have children, acknowledge that these changes to daily life are difficult.

Among those basic needs is organizing and cleaning your home, both vastly different tasks than they used to be. To keep the home running smoothly, consider these tips to keep your appliances functioning, the mess to a minimum and the clutter at bay and changes you could make in how you do laundry.

As for cleaning your home, prioritize high-touch surfaces, including door knobs, light switches, refrigerator and microwave doors, drawer pulls, TV remotes, counters and table tops, toilet handles and faucet handles. Here’s everything you need to know about cleaning your home. But remember: You’re dealing with potentially harmful chemicals, so don’t accidentally poison yourself while cleaning.

Finally: Don’t forget to keep moving. It’s good for your health, mind and soul.

ImageThe C.D.C. advises all Americans to wear cloth masks in public.
Credit...Desiree Rios for 澳门葡京网址

This is called “social distancing” or “physical distancing,” and is basically a call to stand far away from other people, even if you have no underlying health conditions or coronavirus symptoms. Experts believe the coronavirus travels through droplets, so limiting your exposure to other people is a good way to protect yourself.

Avoid public transportation when possible, limit nonessential travel, work from home and skip social gatherings. You can go outside, as long as you avoid being in close contact with people.

[How to keep your distance: A guide to help you make the right decisions]

This C.D.C. recommendation is a shift in federal guidance, and reflects concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms.

Until now, experts at the C.D.C. had been saying that ordinary people didn’t need to wear masks unless they were sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. (澳门葡京网址 and other news outlets had been reporting the C.D.C.’s previous guidance.)

Top officials at the C.D.C. had been pushing for Mr. Trump to advise everyone — even people who appear to be healthy — to wear a mask when shopping at the grocery store or going out in other public places, to avoid unwittingly spreading the virus. Public health officials have stressed that N95 masks and surgical masks should be saved for front-line doctors and nurses, who have been in dire need of protective gear.

Mask wearing doesn’t replace hand washing and social distancing.

[Here is our guidance on how to best protect yourself, including a pattern to make your own cloth mask.]

Credit...Caitlin Ochs/Reuters

Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands. That splash-under-water flick won’t cut it anymore.

A refresher: Wet your hands and scrub them with soap, taking care to get between your fingers and under your nails. Wash for at least 20 seconds (or about the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice), and dry. Make sure you get your thumbs, too. The C.D.C. also recommends you avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands (tough one, we know).

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers, which should be rubbed in for about 20 seconds, can also work, but the gel must contain at least 60 percent alcohol. (No, Tito’s Handmade Vodka doesn’t work.)

Also, clean “high-touch” surfaces, like phones, tablets and handles. Apple recommends using 70 percent isopropyl alcohol, wiping gently. “Don’t use bleach,” the company said.

To disinfect any surface, the C.D.C. recommends wearing disposable gloves and washing hands thoroughly immediately after removing the gloves. Most household disinfectants registered by the Environmental Protection Agency will work.

Try to stand away from other people, especially if they seem sick. Wave, bow or give an elbow bump, rather than shaking hands.

[Watch our guide on how to wash your hands.]

Right now, there’s little reason for parents to worry about their children, the experts say; coronavirus cases in children have been very rare.

The flu vaccine is a must, as vaccinating children is good protection for older people. And take the same precautions you would during a normal flu season: Encourage frequent hand-washing, move away from people who appear sick, and get the flu shot.

As in airplanes, it’s always best to make sure your metaphorical oxygen mask is on before helping others. When talking to your children about an outbreak, make sure that you first assess their knowledge of the virus and that you process your own anxiety. It’s important that you don’t dismiss their fears and that you speak to them at an age-appropriate level.

Be sure to be in communication with your child’s school, including about early dismissals or possible online instruction. Be prepared for schools to close; many districts and universities around the world have already taken that step.

It’s also good to communicate with your workplace about child-care concerns that you have.

If your children are stuck at home, get some games going, turn on a movie and try to make it feel a little like a vacation, at least for the first few days.

[For more information about children and the pandemic, read 11 Questions Parents May Have About Coronavirus.]

Stock up on a 30-day supply of groceries, household supplies and prescriptions.

That doesn’t mean you’ll need to eat only beans and ramen. Here are tips to stock a pantry with shelf-stable and tasty foods. (Don’t forget the chocolate.) Once you’ve got the food you’ll need, use this guide to organize your pantry. One quick rule of thumb: Put everyday items at eye level for easy access. Also, be careful when you’re buying those groceries.

If you take prescription medications, or are low on any over-the-counter essentials, go to the pharmacy sooner rather than later.

And, in no particular order, make sure you’re set with soap, toiletries, laundry detergent, toilet paper and, if you have small children, diapers.

The impact of the virus on the United States economy has been swift and devastating. Nearly 10 million Americans have filed for unemployment insurance in the past two weeks, and some estimates say the unemployment rate is likely higher than at any point since the Great Depression. As we struggle to fight the virus itself, it’s unclear what an economic recovery will look like — or when it will come.

If you’re filing for unemployment, there is a lot to know, so read this guide on unemployment insurance. (You should also be prepared for a potentially tough journey through bureaucracy.)

Don’t forget to work on your emergency fund; here’s how to keep building it during a financial crisis.

For Americans with a retirement account, it has been gut-wrenching to watch double-digit percentages of it evaporate in a matter of weeks. Not only have we seen the market’s largest single-day drop since Black Monday, in 1987, but all of the gains from the past few years have essentially been wiped out.

But for long-term investors — which is what most of us should be — the age-old advice still holds: Do nothing and just wait it out.

“The only two days that really matter in investing are the day you buy and the day you sell. All the ups and downs in between are simply noise,” Mel Lindauer, co-author of “The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing,” said in this guide on how to keep calm during a market crash.

For all of your other money questions, our Your Money team has put together two handy guides: This personal finance Q&A covers topics including whether you should rebalance your portfolio, when to buy more stocks, whether you should refinance your mortgage and much more; and this Q&A covers the stimulus package.

There’s a lot of information flying around, and knowing what is going on will go a long way toward protecting your family.

[Stay Informed: 澳门葡京网址 is providing free coverage of the crisis.]

Johns Hopkins has a comprehensive web guide, as does Harvard Medical School. The C.D.C. has up-to-date information, and your local health department is a great resource for questions.

If you develop a high fever, shortness of breath or another, more serious symptom, call your doctor.

There’s a good chance you won’t be tested: Testing for coronavirus is still inconsistentthere are not enough kits, and it’s dangerous to go into a doctor’s office and risk infecting others. Also, check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website and your local health department for advice about how and where to be tested.

Abby Goodnough, Apoorva Mandavilli, Margot Sanger-Katz and Knvul Sheikh contributed reporting.

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