Covid-19 cases will likely increase in the winter months for three reasons: “First, the virus that causes Covid-19 is a coronavirus and other coronaviruses spread more in winter months,” said CNN Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen.
“Second, in winter months, the air is less humid. Particles that carry the virus can linger in the air for longer. Also, our nasal membranes are drier and more vulnerable to infection.”
Additionally, as the weather gets colder, people will spend more time indoors, where the virus has an easier ability to spread given the lack of adequate ventilation that would diffuse virus particles. “All of this is why we need to stay extra vigilant in the winter months,” added Wen, who is an emergency physician and a visiting professor at George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health.
In addition to following safety guidance, part of that vigilance includes having the right kinds and amounts of foods and medical supplies stocked up to limit trips to stores.
“Any winter season can bring storms, power outages, delays in shipping of critical items to local or from online stores so knowing that you have all the provisions you need to manage these potential events is critical,” said Susan L. Polan, the associate executive director of public affairs and advocacy at the American Public Health Association, via email.
“COVID-19 surges and the flu can make trying to buy supplies harder — or riskier, if you or your family members are sick. You are going to want to do everything to make sure you and your loved ones are safe.”
Here’s what you need to have on hand in your pantry, freezer, medicine cabinet and more to limit errands and in case of sickness, quarantine or disaster this season.
Household cleaning and protection
Face masks are critical for the errands that you do need to run, for accepting deliveries and if you or a housemate is sick.
For your medicine cabinet
For sickness with Covid-19 or another illness, you would need cough drops and syrup for coughing symptoms, decongestants for congestion, acetaminophen and ibuprofen for pain and fevers, and antidiarrheals. Keep adhesive bandages stocked for wounds.
And “get your flu shot,” Polan said. “It is the best way to avoid getting the flu and it is important to reduce the impact on an already overburdened health care system.”
Long-lasting food and snacks
Canned beans, legumes and fish are filling, nutrient-rich sources of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Nut butters are full of healthy fats and pair well with many foods. Whole-grain and bean pastas, oats and grains are hearty staples.
Canned soups, high-fiber cereals and protein bars are quick meals and snacks. Stock up on canned and frozen vegetables and fruits, and jarred or canned sauces as well. And don’t forget the snacks: Dried fruits are rich sources of iron, fiber and antioxidants; nuts can be good sources of calcium and vitamin E.
For hydration, store at least 1 gallon of water per person per day. If you enjoy dairy or plant-based milks or coffee, purchase shelf-stable milks and coffee grounds. Animal proteins, hard cheeses and breads can be frozen.
A disaster preparedness kit
- A flashlight and batteries
- Battery-operated radio and batteries
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Utility knife
- Paper and pencil
- Cash, traveler’s checks and coins
- Disposable dishes and utensils
- Pet food
- Fire extinguisher
- Needles and thread
- Extra set of keys and IDs
- Duct tape and scissors
- Local maps
- First aid manual
- Antibacterial ointment
- Garbage bags
- Cellphone chargers and backup batteries
Last but not least: Entertainment
Following safety protocols will be even harder “as we get into winter and can’t take walks outside or enjoy time with friends or family even masked up and at least 6 feet apart,” Polan said. “Think about ways to stay physically distant but stay socially connected.”
“These are suggestions but everybody needs to think about what they need to live comfortably,” Freeman said.