In Short Supply: Dos and Don’ts During an Outbreak

Posted on: April 3, 2020
Author: Madison Littin

Do's and don'ts of an outbreak: grocery cart

We’ve all heard the stories in the news: a knowingly infected person goes to a concert; price gouging prevents families from getting soap; and toilet paper is now a luxury commodity. The more scientists warn, the more people grow anxious. While it’s all well and good to be concerned and take reasonable precautions, there’s something to be said about critical thinking during times of unease. Sit down, take a deep breath, and check out some common do’s and don’ts of an outbreak.


Don’t Attend Public Events if You’re Sick
That band you absolutely love is in town for a “once-in-a-lifetime-show”? You may think it’s worth it, but the dozens or hundreds of others you could infect might not agree. While you may be healthy enough to fight off the virus, attendees with pre-existing conditions (or those who are immunosuppressed or elderly) may not be.

Don’t Hoard
It’s logical to be worried about empty store shelves, but contributing to emptying those shelves isn’t. Experts suggest only having two weeks to a month’s worth of supplies depending on your personal situation. If you’re a family of five, of course you’ll need more than a single person. That doesn’t mean you need a whole pallet of toilet paper.

Don’t Price Gouge or Buy Price Gouged Items
There are reports from all over the world of people buying storage units worth of hand sanitizer, Clorox Wipes, and more just to resell at a much higher price. Don’t be like those people and don’t support those people by buying their items. If your main grocery or big box store doesn’t have essentials left, try looking down the beaten path (discount stores like Family Dollar or gas stations) or asking family members/neighbors. Most places have now implemented a limit to the number of essentials a person can buy, so this is more of an issue during the first stages of an outbreak. Additionally, the news is reporting that the supply chain is still intact and it’s the overbuying that’s the problem – so once that slows down, store shelves should be full again.


Do Buy Non-Perishables
Sure, those fresh-baked cookies and avocados will be fun for a few days, but when stocking up on supplies, it’s important to focus on what can live on the shelf longer. This article by CNN is an excellent resource on foods to buy as well as a few simple recipes. Focus on pasta, beans, rice, and foods that can be frozen for later like meat and bread.

Do Be Considerate of Others
Respect people’s boundaries and wishes. Help out friends and family in need. Enact social distancing when walking around in public spaces. These ideas may sound simple but can greatly affect how society lives on in the face of an outbreak.

Do Pay Attention to Important Health Resources
The World Health Organization (WHO), the CDC (Centers for Disease Control), your state’s Public Health Department and your county’s Public Health Department are all great, reputable resources for information during an outbreak. Fusion also offers the Operational Resilience Toolkit, which is open to anyone. These provide much more reliable information than that Facebook post your aunt made. They’ll also be excellent news sources and advise policy changes as they arise.

It’s easy to forget the basics in a crisis. At some point, we all do. But it’s important to step back and take the right steps and precautions for your own safety and the safety of others. Critical thinking can go a long way in times like this, so be sure to keep it in good supply.

If you want more pandemic-related insights check out 4 Keys to Navigating Your Business through the COVID-19 Pandemic or Tips and Tricks for Working from Home.