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SALT LAKE CITY — Empty shelves and carts loaded with cleaning supplies, toilet paper and water bottles have recently become a more common scene, causing many supply shortages in grocery stores of the greater Salt Lake area. But are those the items you should be stockpiling in case you or someone you know needs to be quarantined?
Dr. Angela Dunn, state epidemiologist for the Utah Department of Health, said in a Facebook live interview Tuesday that residents' focus should be elsewhere.
“Think about if you had to be quarantined in your house for 14 days because you or a family member were sick,” Dunn said. “Do you have what you need for 14 days?”
Dunn said prescribed medications are one of the most important things to plan for. “That's the key thing, what you absolutely need,” she said.
Although extra food and supplies would be helpful for Utahns, Dunn said, “you don't have to go crazy.”
In a press conference Monday, Gov. Gary Herbert urged Utahns not to overreact, but to use common sense while preparing and collecting supplies. The virus is not categorized as a natural disaster, so officials say it will not affect Utah’s water supply.
In response to an increased demand for water and toilet paper, Costco decided to limit customers on certain items based on each store’s needs. As of Tuesday, the Lehi Costco had limited shoppers to five cases of water bottles and three cases of toilet paper per day. Salt Lake City's Costco set a limit of 10 cases of water and three cases of toilet paper, but on Tuesday they were out of both.
Still, Herbert encourages Utahns to hope for the best and prepare for the worst by making a household plan of action. “We have an opportunity, I think, to be ahead of this,” Herbert said Monday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists ideas to keep in mind as each home creates a plan, including writing down an emergency contact list, practicing good personal health, and designating an area of your home for sick household members.
The Utah health department plans to host a weekly Facebook live event on Tuesdays at 2 p.m. to answer questions about COVID-19 and how it affects Utah residents. They also provide local information about the virus on coronavirus.utah.gov and encourage Utahns to be aware of false information circulating online.
“People should be skeptical of rumors they hear on social media that aren’t being reported by reputable health organizations or mainstream media outlets and should not share or repost items unless they are able to confirm that they are true,” according to Utah's coronavirus website. “False and inaccurate social media posts can cause a great deal of harm."
The health department addresses some of these misunderstandings in its frequently asked questions section.
The state Utah Coronavirus Task Force will also share updates with residents on various social media sites through the username @utahcoronavirus.
If you're worried about whether you may have COVID-19, the Utah Department of Health asks people to call its Utah Coronavirus Information Line at 1-800-456-7707.
- To help mitigate infectious transmission of COVID-19, health care officials advise anyone who thinks they might have the virus to first call their doctor before going to a hospital
- Wash hands thoroughly and often
- Stay home if you’re feeling sick
- Don’t touch your face
- Cough or sneeze in your elbow or a tissue
- You could be at risk of having COVID-19 if you’ve recently traveled to mainland China, South Korea or, to a lesser extent, Japan, Italy and Iran
- Infected patients typically have a fever, cough and shortness of breath