We are currently facing a worldwide pandemic, meaning a widespread disease outbreak, of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19 for short. This virus is rapidly spreading to countries throughout the world, with devastating impacts. While technology and online businesses are an excellent resource for consumers right now, unfortunately some companies are capitalizing on the widespread fear and panic that surrounds this outbreak. To protect you as a consumer during this unprecedented time, we are providing this guide with reliable resources to help you take precautionary measures and put your mind at ease.
This time of uncertainty and alarm has brought out both the best and worst in businesses. While some aim to help with donations and discounts, others offer false information and scams to make more money. As a leading platform of authentic consumer resources, we are providing this consumer-centric guide with businesses for users to turn to for medical information, protective gear, stay-at-home alternatives, and more.
If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19, call your healthcare provider for medical advice, especially if you develop a fever and symptoms, such as cough or difficulty breathing.
In the age of technology, we have almost too much information at our fingertips. This has resulted in mass panic, rumors, and inaccurate information, which is dangerous during a pandemic. Make sure you are listening to news directly from reliable sources, not things shared on social media or by word-of-mouth.
The CDC should be your go-to resource for anything COVID-19 related. On their website, hot topics such as advice on travel, schools, childcare, businesses, employers, and community-based programs can be found. The CDC provides updates throughout the day, with any breaking news, updated restrictions, and general advice for the public.
The best online resources for up-to-date news about COVID-19:
Other federal, state, and local government resources:
Updated maps for outbreak data:
Know the facts before purchasing supplies for you and your family during the COVID-19 outbreak. Learn more about the most popular supplies people are stocking up on, and where to get them.
While the CDC has not reported virus transmission due to package handling, best practice suggestions include wiping down packages with disinfectants, or leaving them outside for 24 hours.
If you are sick, the CDC recommends that you wear a mask because the virus is easily spread through droplets when you cough or sneeze, and the mask helps to stop the spread of those droplets. Beginning Friday, April 3, the CDC announced a recommendation for everyone else to wear face coverings in public as well, which could help with the asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic spread of the virus.
3M, a major supplier of face masks and respirators, including the N95’s needed by healthcare professionals, announced that demand is exceeding supply and they are working hard to provide customers with the supplies they need.
Doctors are weighing in as well. Dr. Nipunie Rajapakse, a Mayo Clinic infectious diseases specialist, says that “the current recommendations regarding masks are that if you yourself are sick with fever and cough, you can wear a surgical mask to prevent transmission to other people. If you are healthy, there is not thought to be any additional benefit to wearing a mask yourself because the mask is not airtight and does not necessarily prevent breathing in of these viral particles, which are very tiny.”
First, let’s talk about the difference between a mask and a respirator. According to 3M, a face mask helps keep things sterile, protecting patients from inhaling microorganisms from the healthcare provider. These are more commonly seen and less expensive. A respirator looks a lot like a face mask but is designed to seal around the face, reducing the wearer’s exposure to airborne particles. Many people have been rushing to purchase N95 respirators in the wake of COVID-19, causing a global shortage for healthcare workers. For more in-depth information and frequently asked questions about masks and respirators, please refer to 3M’s guide.
If you find that you need a mask or respirator, purchase one that is approved by the CDC so that you aren’t doing more harm than good. When masks fit incorrectly, you and the people around you are not protected. The CDC has a guide for all approved respirator types.
Face masks and respirators have been sold out for weeks. Thankfully, there are a few ways to get your hands on one if you are sick or know someone who is, but beware of price gouging. Some retailers are taking advantage of consumers by selling these products by setting them at unfair and unreasonable prices. If you find that a local store is price gouging, report it to your state’s Attorney General Office.
The following chain retailers typically carry one or more kinds of masks and respirators. It’s worth checking in with these stores online and signing up for alerts (when available) for new shipments if you’re in serious need of one.
We know there is a shortage of these products, and some are desperate for a mask, but try to purchase from a reliable retailer so that you aren’t scammed out of money, or buying a faulty product. 3M, a major global supplier of masks and respirators, offers links to partner stores online to purchase from. You can also type in your zip code and to show nearby stores that typically have stock of these products. Call for availability BEFORE heading to the store.
Along with 3M, there are other trusted retailers on the CDC's website. Go to the CDC's website, find the kind of mask that you need (in the blue box), click the link, and search through retailers. Note that most of these retailers sell to other distributors or major companies, not private citizens.
We know that COVID-19 spreads through close contact with an infected individual. According to the CDC, the virus can be contracted through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, and then a healthy person inhales it. Due to the risk of infection, more and more people are purchasing air purifiers in an attempt to clean the air around them, especially if someone else in their home or business is infected.
Air purifiers can trap or break down (depending on the type of filter) viruses, bacteria, mold, mildew, and fungi. However, not all of these products are effective, and some make false claims. There are different types of air filters, including UV, mechanical, and electrostatic, and all have been proven to remove some viruses and bacteria. However, air purifiers haven’t been tested against COVID-19, so there is no guarantee yet. But, if you want to breathe clean air and lower your risk of being infected from other viruses, choose a reputable company to purchase from.
For those of us who want to feel a little better about the air we breathe during this COVID-19 outbreak (or anytime), check out these reliable air purifier retailers.
The CDC is recommending keeping an emergency kit on hand during this outbreak, for symptoms related to COVID-19, but also for other common illnesses you might contract or minor accidents that might occur during this time. This will help you treat your problem quickly and efficiently without having to run to the store.
Remember to pack only the necessities in your kit. Some companies try to scam consumers, using fear to convince them to purchase their products, even if they don’t actually need them. For trustworthy information on what you should have in your basic emergency kit, use the lists and recommendations from Ready.gov, FEMA, or the American Red Cross.
We know that COVID-19 particles are passed through the air and can remain on surfaces long enough to infect others, so keeping cars, homes, and personal devices clean is on everyone’s mind. Using disinfectants is an obvious choice during this viral outbreak. The CDC recommends cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces daily.
Many stores are out of disinfecting products, especially wipes and hand sanitizers, forcing you to shop online. Before you order, do some quick research about EPA approved disinfectants so that you and your family can stay protected by using products that effectively remove the virus from your surfaces. Use the chart to find the EPA registration number for the ingredient, which will then be listed on the product. Products can be marketed and sold under different brand names while still using the same EPA registration number, so look at other brands if the product you need is sold out. If you can’t find any of these, disinfecting products with at least 70% alcohol are also appropriate to use.
Those who become ill are being asked to call ahead before going to a medical facility to avoid transmitting the disease further. For many mild cases, at-home monitoring is sufficient. This has led many to realize that they need or want additional at-home diagnostic supplies to make sure their families (and themselves) are safe and healthy. Among the most popular tools are pulse oximeters (measures blood oxygen concentration), thermometers, and heart monitors. These tools can also bring people peace of mind during this stressful time. Always check with your own physician on whether you need these types of medical diagnostic equipment. Avoid price gouging and faulty products by shopping at reputable retailers during this outbreak.
When practicing home isolation, if you have COVID-19, it is important to wait the recommended amount of time before you leave your home again to avoid infecting others. Please read the CDC’s “How to Discontinue Home Isolation” section near the bottom of the linked webpage for more information.
Social distancing is crucial during the COVID-19 outbreak. While we can’t attend our normal social activities, a more pressing matter is how to get necessary services while being isolated. Fortunately, online medical appointments, pharmacies, business meeting platforms, and food delivery services are available for us to use.
The CDC is urging people who are mildly ill to stay home rather than rush to a medical facility. To help aid those who need to consult a doctor, online medical appointments are available. Be sure to sign up for a reliable service, and check with your health insurance provider to see what is covered. Along with physical health, mental health appointments are available from some providers for those who need it during this stressful time. Ultimately, your decision on which site to use will most likely come down to the price and your insurance coverage, as most of these services are the same.
Minimize your social interactions in high-risk areas like pharmacies by using online options. Filling your prescription online (or over the phone) instead of in-store eliminates one trip to the pharmacy, and many big-name stores are offering delivery (sometimes for free) for prescriptions. Create a free account at one of these popular pharmacies to get started.
As many veterinary offices are offering curbside service during this outbreak, another option is ordering your pet’s medications (and other essentials) online to lessen your exposure. After ordering from these sites, they will contact your vet’s office to approve your order.
The COVID-19 outbreak is having a major impact on the global economy. Keep your businesses going with virtual meetings.
Grocery stores are a hot spot for contracting illnesses. To make things easier on you and your loved ones, consider using a food delivery service to limit your exposure to COVID-19.
Experts say the likelihood of virus transmission from food delivery is low, but you can wipe down packages with disinfectant wipes as well as wash your hands before and after handling the items.
If you’ve never used a meal prep website, now is the perfect time to start. Enter your preferences, food allergies, and dietary needs, and sign up for a membership to receive ingredients and recipes right to your doorstep. While there are many more meal service sites popping up, these are among the most popular and reliable.
Keeping our restaurant industry afloat during this outbreak will largely depend on customers using take-out and delivery services. In some U.S. states, restaurants have been forced to close their dining rooms, and others are decreasing their capacity. Consider using one of these restaurant delivery sites to eat from your favorite local places, giving them much needed support during this difficult time.
To avoid your exposure to others during this outbreak, consider ordering your groceries ahead of time online, and then pick them up or have them delivered to your home. Fortunately, there are many grocery service options to choose from today, and the following are among the most popular.
As we navigate through these difficult times, we recognize a strong need for authentic and trustworthy resources, perhaps more than ever before. Our team will work to provide the most up to date resources for the important questions right now. We would also like to remind you that it is crucial to follow government recommendations during this time to keep you and your loved ones safe. If you or someone you know is showing symptoms of COVID-19 or has recently been exposed to the virus, visit the CDC's website for what to do next.
Have another resource particularly helpful to you? We believe sharing your experience is incredibly meaningful. Share your recommendations to the community by writing a review, or leaving a comment in our COVID-19 discussion board.
Have more questions? Reach out to others on our COVID-19 community Facebook group.