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Faye Flam

How to Prepare (Rationally) for the Coronavirus

Freaking out over Covid-19 won’t help, but washing your hands will. 

Protect yourself and those relying on you.

Protect yourself and those relying on you.

Photographer: Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images

About a month ago, I prepared for Covid-19, then just known as the coronavirus, by refilling  some essential heart medications I was worried might run out if there were serious supply chain disruptions. The pills were for my cat — I figured it was better to be safe than sorry. And now that coronavirus has spread to at least 48 countries, more and more people are confronting the question of how much preparation is enough, whether for themselves or those people and pets relying on them.

Experts have known for weeks that this disease was likely to spread around the world, though of course little is certain since this virus is so new. Risk communication expert Peter Sandman says the CDC should have emphasized earlier the need for individuals and companies to prepare. Now, suddenly, CDC is sounding alarms that should have been sounded long ago — but President Donald Trump isn’t helping matters by countering their warnings with vague reassurance.