Experts say there are a number of supplies you can buy now to prepare to take care of yourself at home if you have mild symptoms from COVID-19.

Among your grocery items should be fresh fruits and vegetables as well as canned goods with long shelf lives. Among the medical supplies should be a thermometer, cough medicines, tissues, zinc, and vitamin C.

Cleaning products, as well as extra sheets, towels, and pajamas, should also be on hand. Many Americans have stocked up on food and other supplies in preparation for social distancing.

But while you may have enough toilet paper to last through the summer, have you thought about what you’ll need to have on hand if you actually contract COVID-19 and need to self-quarantine?

Despite shutdowns and other unprecedented steps to slow the spread of COVID-19, epidemiologists believe that a majority of people trusted source will eventually get the easily transmitted viral disease for which humans have no natural immunity.

MPH, a research scientist and hydration expert at the medical device and consumer products company Abbott, told Healthline.

Create an action plan

“Preparing for a period of home quarantine means making a household plan of action as well as stocking supplies for the duration of the isolation period,” Dr. Lisa Ide, chief medical officer of the national virtual health platform Zipnosis, told Healthline.

“Make sure that you have a list of emergency contacts, a plan to communicate with family, friends, and co-workers, and know-how to get food delivered if possible,” she said.

“Organize a 2- to 4-week supply of food, cleaning materials such as sanitizing wipes and soap, and basic household staples such as toilet paper and facial tissue,” suggested Ide.

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“When you are planning your food supplies, think of food that will store well and be nutritious such as rice, pasta, canned or dried beans, dried fruit, soups, and frozen vegetables as well as pet food,” she said.

Fresh fruit and vegetables are also important for health and healing.

“Fruit and vegetables provide loads of essential nutrients and there are ways to extend their shelf-life and make them more convenient,” notes the website Huel, which markets nutritionally complete food with a 12-month shelf life. “For example, soups and sauces can be made straight away and then frozen. You can make a concentrated stock which you can then freeze in ice cube trays and, voila, homemade, low-salt stock cubes.”

Clean water

Water should be at the top of the list of supplies you’ll need in the event you contract COVID-19.

“COVID-19 is a viral infection and like most viral infections, treatment is all about comfort and keeping well enough while your body heals,” Dr. Roy Benaroch, a clinical assistant professor of pediatrics at Emory University and a pediatrician with a private practice in Roswell, Georgia, told Healthline.

I would recommend 1 to 3 grams a day, on top of a healthy diet that’s rich in fresh vegetables and fruit

“It’s crucial to stay hydrated, so plenty of fluids, especially if the fever is high,” Benaroch said.

Williams said that COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, coughing, diarrhea, and vomiting “can easily impact individuals’ fluid intake and contribute to dehydration, and rob the body of key nutrients if healthy foods and fluids are not consumed while recovering.”

Pain medication

“The most useful medicine is something to decrease headaches, body aches, and fever, like acetaminophen (Tylenol),” said Benaroch.

“Many people also use ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin), but there has been some concern especially from Europe that ibuprofen is less safe, though there’s no direct evidence that this is true. Still, if you want to be extra careful, use acetaminophen instead,” he said.

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Dr. Larry Burchett, a California emergency physician, recommends 650 milligrams (mg) of acetaminophen every 4 to 6 hours as a safe dosage for most adults.


Viral droplets spread by coughing, sneezing, or spitting is one of the primary ways that COVID-19 spreads from person to person.

Have plenty of tissues on hand to help prevent transmitting it to other people in your family.

Cough medicine

“Many people with COVID-19 have a strong cough,” said Benaroch. “If you have asthma or any other respiratory condition, it’s essential that you continue to take your routine respiratory medicines, and follow your asthma action plan or any similar instructions from your doctor for the use of rescue medications.”

Over-the-counter cough medicines aren’t effective, said Benaroch, but can be tried. Honey — or cough drops containing honey — may also help to soothe coughs.

Prescription medicines

If you have asthma or another respiratory illness, be sure to have extra inhalers and other medications on hand.

The same is true of any other chronic illnesses you may have, since having conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and immune system disorders place you at higher risk of serious complications from COVID-19.

“Ensure that you have a four-week supply of prescription and over-the-counter medicine,” said Peters. “And while you are stocking up and preparing, please check in with neighbors who are elderly or need extra help.”


“Zinc has become one of the most popular suggestions for reducing symptoms of coronavirus,” Dr. Morton Tavel, clinical professor emeritus of medicine at the Indiana University School of Medicine, told Healthline.

“Although there is no direct evidence at this time to suggest that using zinc lozenges can prevent or treat COVID-19 in people, zinc does have antiviral properties and was shown in a laboratory study to inhibit the replication of coronaviruses in cells,” he said.

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Tavel recommends taking Cold-Eeze lozenges, an over-the-counter drug containing zinc gluconate, several times a day for upper-respiratory symptoms.

“Since there is little harm in such a strategy, it may be worth a try,” he said.

Vitamin C

“It supports the activity of our immune cells, especially when they work more than they should during outbreaks,” said Asli Elif Tanugur Samanci, a food scientist and chief executive officer of Bee & You. “I would recommend 1 to 3 grams a day, on top of a healthy diet that’s rich in fresh vegetables and fruit.”