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University of Minnesota Extension

Helping your family plan for COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)

Public health agencies and health care providers are closely monitoring COVID-19, also called coronavirus. Knowledge and planning can help you prepare for a public health emergency. 

Following a few simple steps can make a big difference 

  • Stay at home if you are sick. 
  • Keep your children home if they’re sick. 
  • Wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds.
  • Cough into a tissue or your elbow, not your hands.

Share facts, not fear 

  • Remember that anyone can get sick, regardless of where they live or where they come from.  
  • Limit children’s exposure to television and social media; both can make them anxious and afraid.
  • Social media can be a helpful tool for family communications during emergencies. But it can also spread misinformation. Get dependable, science-driven information from your physician, the Minnesota Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Make backup plans for childcare, work, elderly family members and income loss  

  • Plan for what you’ll do if your children’s school or childcare provider closes. 
  • If you can work from home, make arrangements now that can be activated later.
  • Plan ahead of time so that more than one person is available to check in on elderly or vulnerable people in your family. This guide from the Red Cross is helpful. 
  • You may lose income. This Extension guide can help you set priorities and offers suggestions and resources for getting through tough times. 

Check your supply of prescription and nonprescription drugs

  • Make sure you have an adequate supply of both. 
  • Create a kit of nonprescription items that includes medications to help reduce fever and diarrhea, stomach remedies and pain relievers. 
  • Keep hydrating drinks on hand. Water is the easiest, but milk is also good at keeping you hydrated. Pedialyte and some non-carbonated sports drinks can be a good source of electrolytes. 

Much of this information can apply to other health-related crises or weather events like tornadoes or floods. Calm preparation and fact-based information make a difference.  

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