Tips, resources, guides to Surviving this pandemic…

March 13, 2020

Your big box Grocer out of toilet paper? no worries, local Mom & Pop shops, discount stores, corner stores, cafes & restaurants are Open for Business & ready to serve you. Many of your local business owners are taking extra precautions to ensure your health, call ahead and ask, order online, buy a gift certificate to redeem when things settle, or maybe ask a friend to pick up items. Let’s not forget this is a strong resilient community that can rely on each other. Let’s all encourage each other to wash hands, clean surfaces regularly & check up on the most vulnerable around you. Visit Grocery, Variety & Discount Stores on our Online Directory for your Go to Local List!

Some of the below-compiled articles you may find helpful include; 1) The Ontario Curriculum: Elementary, 2) The family lockdown guide, 3) Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Awareness resources; Infographics & fact sheets, 4) Common Household Products Can Destroy the Novel Coronavirus, 5) Planning a Local Event? Risk-informed decision-making for mass gatherings during COVID-19 global outbreak, 6) How to Talk to Your Kids About Coronavirus, 7) Other ways you can support artists, creative businesses and freelancers, 8) A Homeschooling Bandaid for Public School Parents

The Ontario Curriculum: Elementary

Want to ensure your kids don’t fall too behind while away from School for 3 weeks; here’s a link for The Ontario Curriculum: Elementary as well as a list of Policy and Resource Documents for the Ontario Curriculum: Elementary is available. This page contains useful and current tools that apply to all publicly funded elementary and secondary English-language schools in Ontario.

Education Companies Offering Free Subscriptions due to School Closings

Click this link to Google Doc listing resources.

A Homeschooling Bandaid for Public School Parents

Things to buy, fighting boredom, things to do, schedules, core subjects & resources.

Fighting Boredom With Hours to Fill

So, the problem you’re going to have is that accomplishing a full day’s worth of “school work” at home, only takes a couple of hours a day for elementary school kids; it never took my high schoolers more than four hours. So… then what?You can expect to have a good 10–12 hours of TIME to fill while your kids are awake and not in school (because their after school stuff will be cancelled too, naturally). Most of us probably don’t want our kids’ screen time to increase that much while they are on sabbatical, so what else are we supposed to do? Here are some ideas:

Teach Time Management

If your kids are ten or older, try handing THEM that time block and asking THEM to organize it. Brainstorm, together, all of the things that need to go into a healthy day: Some work (school, household chores), some play, some independent learning, some exercise, some creative time. Then let your kid decide how to get all of that in and present their plan for their time to you.

Brainstorm a List of Things to Do

Your kid is going to have to entertain themselves a bit, so stock up on what they need to do that and brainstorm a list of stuff they might do with a “bored” block of time. This is where Pinterest boards become your friend. Start here, with Rainy Day Activities for Kids.Post this list on the fridge, or somewhere that everyone can see it. Make sure your Secret Weapon has all the supplies they need.

Create a Pattern to Your Days

At school, your kids are used to cycling through a rotation of activities that keep them engaged and moving. If life grinds to a halt at home when school is out, it’s gonna get messy. So, create some patterns for your days at home together.For us, this looked like: Mornings for school work, afternoon for other adventures.

Get up, do chores, get the homework done, go out and play a while, or get up and moving with a Wii game, or some other form of aerobic exercise. Read for half an hour, make some lunch. After lunch, get into an art or science project. Work on something you’re interested in independently. Take a walk or a run together. Do some yoga. Play some music. Bake something together. Do an hour or so of screen time for fun.

Whether you’re the one home with the kids, you organize a co-op, or enlist a neighbour or grandparent, I highly recommend thinking proactively about how you order your days, support your support people in keeping the kids positively engaged through this sabbatical from school. We organized our days in 30 minute blocks, thinking about balancing sitting time with physical motion, brain dead time (screens for non educational purposes) with creative and inspired time (art, music, sports, physical motion), and “work” time (school, chores, life skills) with “play” time.It really does take a village and during these sorts of emergencies, we have to work together!

Also: Plan to let them be bored and self maintain for a while. They’ll live.Studies show that boredom is good for you.

Get OUT of the House

I’m not suggesting you go to the children’s museum or the indoor playground. That would kind of defeat the purpose of the school closures. But you can and should get out and take a walk in the park, ride bikes around the block, jump rope in the driveway, shoot hoops, scooter the cul-de-sac, run the stairs in your apartment building. Get out and get moving in ways that don’t take you into crowded environments.

Physical activity also helps boost our immune systems and keeping kids moving serves more than one purpose! Wear them out and reduce their risk of infection!

How to Talk to Your Kids About Coronavirus

Earlier this week, I overheard my kids engaged in a round of “I heard” and “Did you know?” while they were getting ready for bed.
“I heard that Margaret’s dad has it,” said my six-year-old. “Did you know that it’s the worst sickness ever?” added my eight-year-old.

Neither statement is accurate, but they were revealing: I had thought my initial conversations with my kids about COVID-19 had been good enough. But with adults, kids at school and the news all hyper-focused on this coronavirus outbreak, my reassuring voice needed to be a little louder. A favorite Mister Rogers’ quote ran through my mind: “Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting and less scary.”

So before lights out, we talked. I asked what they had heard about the coronavirus. We got it all out — their questions, their “I heards” and their fears. The rest of the conversation had three themes.

First, I shared age-appropriate facts and corrected misinformation. Because my kids are young, I kept it simple. “You know what it’s like to have a cold or the flu — how sometimes you get a cough or have a fever? This is kind of like that. Most people who catch this sickness stay home, rest and get all better. And we have wonderful doctors and nurses who can help people when they need it.”

Second, I reassured them that they are safe, which is the most important message my kids can hear from me. I know that they take their emotional cues from my tone. “You don’t need to worry. Right now, lots of amazing grown ups are working hard to keep people healthy. Luckily, we already know a lot about how to keep healthy!”

Third, I emphasized simple things our family can do to be “germ busters” — for all types of germs that are out there! As Harvard’s Dr. Richard Weissbourd once shared with me, kids and adults alike are “more distressed when we feel helpless and passive, and more comfortable when we are taking action.” The hygiene routines that slow the spread of the COVID-19 are the same habits that help keep us healthy all year round.

Here are four ways we can help young kids build germ-busting habits.

Wash Your Hands

Make it a family routine before every meal and snack to wash hands. If you do it together, you can model for them how to use soap, rub your hands together and rinse. For a timer, try slowly singing the ABCs together while you scrub. In Curious George, the Man with the Yellow Hat has a cold. He teaches George how germs can move from person to person and that’s important to wash your hands and avoid sharing utensils. Good hand washers, like Daniel Tiger, are germ busters!

Catch that Cough

When kids cough or sneeze, they tend to do it right into their hands — and then they use those hands to touch everything in sight! Instead, we can cough and sneeze into our elbow. Make it a game with kids. Can they catch the cough in their elbow? In the beginning, cheer when they do: “You caught it! That’s what germ busters do!” If they accidentally “catch it in their hands,” they can simply wash their hands with soap and water and start the game again.

“Rest is Best”

Daniel Tiger reminds us that “When you’re sick, rest is best!” This is a good episode to show kids and a great song to sing when they are feeling under the weather. Tell them: When we are sick, we can stay home and rest our bodies; we can be germ busters by not spreading germs or going to school sick. And as parents, we can keep ourselves and our kids home if we have a fever or other symptoms.

Practice Healthy Habits

Remind kids that sleep, exercise and eating healthy foods are good, everyday ways to strengthen our bodies. We will all get sick sometimes! They have probably already had at least one cold this season. But we can be responsible germ busters when we practice handwashing, cough-catching, resting and basic healthy living.

The family lockdown guide: how to emotionally prepare for coronavirus quarantine | World news | The Guardian

“It gets a little crazy in our house,” Travis Diener says.

Diener, a professional basketball player, lives in Cremona in the Covid-19 red zone of Lombardy, Italy, with his wife and three young children. They are living in lockdown; the kids have been off school for two weeks, and the family is following government advice: staying in their home and only venturing outside when necessary.

“‘Time flies’ – that’s the saying,” he says. “But in this situation it can go slow. The days are long.”

As the coronavirus pandemic spreads, self-isolation or quarantine is one of the key strategies in “flattening the curve” of infection rates. These 14-day isolation periods involve individuals or families staying within their homes, and not having physical contact with those outside. With the prospect of school and daycare closures, as well as workplaces shutting down or moving to remote working, many more families around the world face the prospect of precisely the kind of long days the Diener family is experiencing.

But what can families expect and how can they survive not only the virus, but each other?

For parents trying to work from home, their ability to do so will rely on various factors from the age of their children and the layout of their home to the nature of their work. The temperament of parents and kids will also play a role.

Claire Amos, the principal of Albany senior high school in Auckland, has been self-isolating within the family home, away from her teenage children and husband, for nearly two weeks after a work trip to Italy. Amos devotes mornings to emails and Google Hangout meetings with senior staff and students, and was surprised at how productive she has been. “You can get jobs done really effectively in this state. A lot of the time you’re busy being busy, rather than doing anything productive.”

Diener’s wife works part-time from home for a local wine company, so her work hasn’t been too disrupted. For Diener, used to training and playing basketball all day, the shift has been hard. He has tried to keep up some training but it’s not the same. “For me, sitting at home is driving me a little crazy too,” he says. “I’m used to doing my job.”

With routines disrupted and families thrown into close quarters, cabin fever is a real danger. It is exacerbated by predispositions and thought processes and can manifest, says Dr Carly Johnco, a clinical psychologist at Sydney’s Macquarie University, as anxiety, extreme frustration, depression or low mood. The University of Melbourne psychology professor and parenting expert Prof Lea Waters AM says self-isolation can hit three critical components of mental health: our sense of autonomy, relatedness (a sense of being connected to others) and competency (feeling effective).

Now for the good news. They’ve all got tips on how to get through it.

Begin on the same page

“I’d suggest at the very start the family sit down and devise a family contract,” Waters says. “Have a discussion: what do you think will be the biggest challenges? What are the strengths that we each have as an individual family member that can help out?” Discussing concerns and expectations about the quarantine, and what role each person can play to make it better, can be helpful, she says. “Forewarned is forearmed.”

Be truthful

It is important for parents to listen to and empathise with their children’s fears, speak truthfully about the situation in an age-appropriate manner and put it into context, the experts say.

“Have conversations for facts and feelings,” Waters says. Critical to allaying fears will also be allowing children a sense of control, such as over their personal hygiene.

For adults too, keeping a sense of perspective and sourcing information and advice from credible sources will help stave off anxiety. Amos says it’s important for people to be open about what they are experiencing, to reduce any possible stigma or embarrassment attached to self-isolation.

Set up structure

Maintaining a routine will be important but it need not be strict. “Routines are always helpful for people to see an endpoint,” Waters says.

Amos says routine has been critical to not going “bonkers”. She wakes in the morning at nearly her usual time, showers, gets dressed and puts on her makeup, before waving off her family members not quarantined and then getting stuck into work for the morning. In the afternoon she plays with posting outfits of the day on Instagram and has “reconnected with Yoga with Adriene on YouTube”.

Diener and his family have tried to stay close to their normal routine. The school has emailed activities and lessons so the children don’t fall behind. He and his wife break up the day into seven or eight “subjects”, for their children, who are aged three, five and seven. “It could be anything from helping my wife bake cookies, a dance class, math, spelling, some Italian, some English,” he says. These lessons are broken up with something fun, like downtime or half an hour with the iPad or TV.

Waters says families should try to enjoy having more spare time than usual, especially what can be very rare downtime for kids. Parents can be prepared with games, craft, schoolwork and books, but allowing more screen time than normal will not, says Johnco, be catastrophic.

Just don’t stay on screens all the time. “It could be tempting for people to just sit in front of the telly for two weeks,” she says. “The novelty of that will wear off quite quickly. We know that when people withdraw, or stop doing their normal activities, it can have a pretty profound effect on their mood.”

Reliance on streaming services or the internet may not be practical.

Telecommunications networks are preparing for a surge in people working from home. Australia’s networks are resilient but will come under pressure, a Telstra spokesman said. “We are confident our networks can be optimised to manage a significant increase in network traffic as a result of people being at home, although depending on what eventuates there may be times when the service is slower than usual.”

So don’t go crazy on the Netflix, and have a robust mobile data plan as a backup, if you’re likely to need to complete urgent work.

Keep moving

Johnco says keeping physically active is critical to boosting mood: “Frustration and boredom can come when kids are not getting the opportunities to be physically active.” Creative exercise ideas, like setting up an obstacle course in the backyard, could occupy both parents and kids. The Diener family in Italy break up their day with some micro-exercises, such as jumping jacks, running up stairs or playing basketball and soccer.

Get things done

Feeling as though something has been accomplished during an isolation period will be important for both children and their parents. It could include working from home, school assignments or setting sights on long-avoided chores, repairs or tasks. Waters suggests encouraging kids to keep a “corona journal”, in which they can document their experience. Amos has altered a jacket she had been meaning to work on for months, and laughs that her wardrobe has never been so organised.

“The other thing I’ve been doing is indulging,” Amos says. She has a mandatory tea in the backyard sunshine. Johnco says it is important to make time for “activities that just make you feel good”.

Families should consider things they can do together – like planning for a movie night, taking on a large project such as building something together, or even rearranging the furniture.

Give each other space

“Try to think of things you can do by yourself and as a family,” Johnco says. “It can be hard for families who are used to all going off to their own activities being forced into this intense time. That’s why when you’re on family holiday you’ll sometimes see kids squabbling – they’re not used to being in the same space.”

Waters says: “I would create spaces in the house, if possible, like little zones – ‘This is our game zone. This bean bag with a headset is our chill-out corner.’”

While respecting time alone is important, it could also be a time for creating or reconnecting with family rituals, she says. This might be as simple as a proper sit-down family meal, perhaps with a new recipe the kids have been involved in preparing.

Stay in touch

Another critical component of good mental state is feeling connected to others. This time, technology is our friend. Connecting and making time for friends on social media or over the phone will be critical for adults. Also important, says Johnco, is “reciprocal social support” – reaching out to others to make sure they are OK.

Children are used to highly social environments and will also need to connect with friends. Older children, Waters says, could create themes on Instagram or Snapchat where they can share their experiences and tips with friends. With younger children it might be scheduling in some video calls with friends and family.

Learn from the experience

Diener says his kids have been great during their isolation, and have accepted their new routine. It’s given him a new perspective, too.

“I’m gaining a lot more respect for teachers and their patience, because it’s hard to teach kids,” he says. “It’s been good for me as well. It’s helped me, I think, become a better parent.”

Amos, too, has found silver linings in her forced removal from a busy life.

“It’s quite nice to slow down,” she says. “In a weird way I hope I learn from that and change my behaviours a little bit. For probably the first time ever, I’ve actually felt guilt-free about not being busy.”

7 strategies to keep you feeling healthy & well

……and hopefully prevent the catching or spreading of the virus….

  1. Hand Washing: Experts agree that hand washing is one of the best steps we can take to stop the spread and minimize our chances of getting it. As per CDC guidelines, you should be washing your hands with warm water and soap for at least 20-30 seconds especially after being out in public places. In your home, at the office or on the go, have Thieves at the ready to clean your hands and everyday surfaces. 
  2. Remove Immune Stress: The fastest way to increase your resistance to colds, flu, and yes, viruses too is to #tossthetoxins and remove the toxic products from your home and diet!  This means removing all pesticides and all cleaning products with harmful ingredients from your home, as these directly alter the microbiome which can cause more vulnerability to illness.
  3. Eat Well and Stay Hydrated: Eat a balanced micro-nurtrient rich diet full of fresh foods, to optimize your microbiome and gut health, thereby strengthening your immune system. Make a clean sweep of your pantry and refrigerator of all foods that are not organic, have harmful ingredients, and inflammatory fats… and that includes refined sugar, which suppresses the immune system and makes you more vulnerable to bacteria and viruses but also prolongs cold and flu symptoms. Make sure to drink lots of water and fluids to help replace fluids lost and loosen mucous and aid in clearing congestion.
  4. Get outside: Natural vitamin D from sunlight boosts the immune system (and also helps improve your mood…which will keep you above the wellness line, #justsaying).  Fresh air is also so important for increased oxygen which carries good bacteria thus also strengthening your microbiome (and immune system).
  5. Prioritize Sleep:  Now we all know that sleep is super important for our functioning and also our immune system….. And I also know that many of you have little ones who are perhaps not sleeping so great.  Aim for 8-10 hours of sleep (and turn off the WIFI to reduce your EMF exposure).  
  6. Stick to the facts – look at the source of your information. Consider where you will look to in getting the correct information.
  7. Be positive:  Being positive helps you raise your energy vibration and stay above the wellness line. Surround yourself with positive people, say your affirmations every day, listen to an uplifting podcast, watch a funny movie, give your best friend a call, laugh & play with your kids.  Try really hard to step away from social media and TV from time to time, or at least don’t watch/follow the scary headlines and news stories about the coronavirus. 

We all need to conscientious of the part we play in preventing the spread of germs by how we take care of ourselves and our community.  And luckily, in my family, we have some amazing plant-based tools to use on the daily, without the harsh chemicals and harmful toxins found in your conventional brands (which hurt your immune system by the way).

Extra steps

  • Extra hand washing: We use the Thieves hand soap, but you can also make your own using liquid castille soap with added Thieves Essential Oils. Here’s the recipe I use:

    I actually put a few drops of the Thieves foaming hand soap (or my DIY one) into a small 2oz pump bottle and take it on the go with me, and/or always have my Thieves Hand Sanitizer along, because I definitely DO NOT want to be using the bright pink soap that is often found in public bathrooms (and even schools).  Reducing our toxic exposure is important for me and my family, so this is one way we can make sure our hand soap is safe!
  • Hand Sanitizer: And I am not talking about Purel hand sanitizer or the no-name brands from the Dollar Store!  I am talking about my all timefavourite – the Thieves Hand Sanitizer.  Why do I love this?  Well, it contains 65% alcohol, but it is “denatured” alcohol — denatured with peppermint oil and NOT isopropanol.  Isopropanol is a big ingredient you want to avoid…read more about that here. Because the Thieves Hand Sanitizer is denatured with peppermint oil, it doesn’t feel drying and it is SAFER than your conventional hand sanitizers.

    Conventional hand sanitizers like Purel KILL everything and that is it, the bad AND the good. The Thieves Hand Sanitizer leaves a protective coating that protects from what is yet to come AND addresses the ‘terrain’ of what is there now, however does not affect the healthy microbiome (ie. it protects against the bad, but keeps the good). Plus, here in Canada, Thieves Hand Sanitizer is approved by Health Canada, as a Natural Health Product (NHP) and it can kill 99.99% of germs and bacteria. Wow!  Better stock up now!  They currently have a 1/person limit on this product because EVERYONE is stocking up!!
  • Thieves Spray: This is our quick shot of clean! You can spray everything with this Thieves Spray, and it comes in a little handy, travel size bottle, perfect for your purse, diaper bag, gym bag, or even coat pocket! Use it to clean kids toys, sanitize public washrooms, wash fruits and veggies, wipe down gym equipment before and after use, clean airplane armrests and trays (if you are still travelling now), as an air cleaning spray or freshener, sanitize hands, wipe down door handles & light switches, spray down your yoga mat, and all the other things!
  • Diffusing Essential Oils: Diffusing high quality (yup, they are not ALL equal) essential oils has so many benefits including: boosting the immune system; eliminating harmful pollutants and odours; uplifting spirits; sleep support; purifying the air we breathe; and relieving tension and stress….um yes please!  This one thing checks off almost all the strategies I listed above!

Extra supplements we’re taking…Vitamin C & Probiotics

What I’m Stocking up on….Food and pantry staples… well, we haven’t done this yet, but we are stocking up this weekend on canned goods, quinoa or chickpea pasta, and other non-perishables.  

Here are some additional resources for you to consider:

Public Health Ontario COVID-19 Public Resources

  • The site provides fact sheets in multiple languages including information on:
  • How to self-monitor
  • How to self-isolate
  • Self-isolation: Guide for caregivers, household members and close contacts

Public Health Ontario – Hand Hygiene
Ministry of Health dedicated COVID-19 website

  • This site is updated at 10:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. every day. The site provides information about out how to protect yourself, what to do if you’re sick after you travel and how to recognize possible symptoms.

Public Health Agency of Canada

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Awareness resources; Info graphics & fact sheets

Reduce the spread of COVID-19: Wash your hands

How to care for a person with COVID-19 at home: Advice for caregivers

Vulnerable populations and COVID-19

Travellers returning to Canada

While diseases can make anyone sick, some Canadians are more at risk of getting an infection and developing severe complications due to their health, social and economic circumstances.

Organizations, staff and volunteers play an important role in helping to prevent these populations from getting or spreading the COVID-19 virus. Start by sharing simple things they can do to help keep themselves and others healthy, guide them to help if they develop any signs and symptoms and learn ways help care for sick clients recovering from COVID-19.

Vulnerable populations may include

Anyone who is:

  • an older adult
  • at risk due to underlying medical conditions (e.g. heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, cancer)
  • at risk due to a compromised immune system from a medical condition or treatment (e.g. chemotherapy)

Anyone who has:

  • difficulty reading, speaking, understanding or communicating
  • difficulty accessing medical care or health advice
  • difficulty doing preventive activities, like frequent hand washing and covering coughs and sneezes
  • ongoing specialized medical care or needs specific medical supplies
  • ongoing supervision needs or support for maintaining independence
  • difficulty accessing transportation
  • economic barriers
  • unstable employment or inflexible working conditions
  • social or geographic isolation, like in remote and isolated communities
  • insecure, inadequate, or nonexistent housing conditions

How organizations can support vulnerable populations during COVID-19 outbreaks

Take the time to learn the facts:

  • Know more about COVID-19 by visiting .
  • Keep up-to-date about the current situation in your community.
  • Contact local, provincial, territorial public health officials to get relevant COVID-19 information, resources and guidance.

Take time to get prepared:

  • Review your business continuity plan so you and your staff know what to do.
  • Plan ahead for potential disruptions.
  • Identify and plan how to continue providing the most critical services.
  • Partner with organizations that provide similar services to share resources and strategies.
  • Be prepared to answer questions from staff, volunteers, and clients.
  • Consider stockpiling general supplies and cleaning supplies.
  • Prepare for shelters and communal space limitations.

Educate staff about ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Washing hands often with soap and hot water or use of alcohol based sanitizer.
  • Increasing access to hand hygiene and cough etiquette supplies (e.g., alcohol-based hand rub, soap, paper towels, tissues, waste containers).
  • Cleaning frequently used spaces, surfaces and objects (kitchens, common areas, dining areas, desks, shared sleeping spaces, doorknobs, and faucets).
  • Staying home when sick.
  • Avoiding the use of shared personal items.
  • Sharing information about what to do if staff or a client shows symptoms of becoming sick.
  • Sharing steps about how to care for and isolate people living in a crowded facility (including the use of separate washrooms, if available).

Suggestions for supporting vulnerable populations during COVID-19 outbreaks

Provide clear instructions about how to wash hands and cover coughs using:

  • the most commonly used language in the community
  • short messages that explain simple steps they can take
  • large font and graphics
  • accessible instructions (e.g., braille, pictoral)
  • by posting signs in common areas near sinks, entrances, intake areas, restrooms, sleeping areas, recreation areas, waiting rooms

Consider supporting alternatives such as:

  • using volunteer drivers and subsidized taxi fares instead of public transportation
  • putting in place alternative outreach measures or a “buddy” system
  • including policies to allow sick clients to rest in shelters during the day
  • providing access to food, drinks and supplies, as possible
  • reminding clients to fill or refill prescriptions, and necessary medical supplies

If you suspect a client is sick from COVID-19, please contact your local public health authority.

We can all do our part in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

These Common Household Products Can Destroy the Novel Coronavirus

A gloved hand using a disinfectant wipe to clean a faucet.

News of stores running out of hand-sanitizing gels and chlorine wipes may have you worried about how to protect your family at home as COVID-19 spreads. But plain old hand soap will go a long way.

“It isn’t possible to disinfect every surface you touch throughout your day,” says Stephen Thomas, M.D., chief of infectious diseases and director of global health at Upstate Medical University in Syracuse. “The planet is covered with bacteria and viruses, and we’re constantly in contact with these surfaces, so hand-washing is still your best defense against COVID-19.” 

CR’s Coronavirus Resource Hub Stay up to date on the latest news and use our advice to keep yourself and your family safe. Learn More

You need to amp up your typical cleaning routine only if someone in the household exhibits signs and symptoms of a respiratory infection, or if you live in an area with known cases of COVID-19. In that scenario, Thomas says, “Clean high-traffic areas that get touched frequently, such as kitchen counters and bathroom faucets, three times a day with a product that kills viruses.”

The good news is that coronaviruses are some of the easiest types of viruses to kill with the appropriate product, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. “It has an envelope around it that allows it to merge with other cells to infect them,” explains Thomas. “If you disrupt that coating, the virus can’t do its job.”

Even if you can’t get your hands on hand sanitizer or Clorox wipes, below are a number of cleaning products you probably have around the house already, and that stores are more likely to have in stock, that are effective in deactivating the novel coronavirus. We also tell you the products that don’t work, and when you can expect retailers to stock back up on cleaning supplies.

Cleaning Products That Destroy Coronavirus

Soap and Water
Just the friction from scrubbing with soap and water can break the coronavirus’s protective envelope. “Scrub like you’ve got sticky stuff on the surface and you really need to get it off,” says Richard Sachleben, an organic chemist and member of the American Chemical Society. Discard the towel or leave it in a bowl of soapy water for a while to destroy any virus particles that may have survived. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a diluted bleach solution (⅓ cup bleach per 1 gallon of water or 4 teaspoons bleach per 1 quart of water) for virus disinfection. Wear gloves while using bleach, and never mix it with anything except water. (The only exception is when doing laundry with detergent.)

“Bleach works great against viruses,” Sachleben says. Just don’t keep the solution for longer than a few days because bleach will degrade certain plastic containers.

Bleach can also corrode metal over time, so Sachleben recommends that people not get into the habit of cleaning their faucets and stainless steel products with it. Because bleach is harsh for many countertops as well, you should rinse surfaces with water after disinfecting to prevent discoloration or damage to the surface. 

Isopropyl Alcohol
Alcohol solutions with at least 70 percent alcohol are effective against coronavirus. Do not dilute the alcohol solution. Alcohol is generally safe for all surfaces but can discolor some plastics, Sachleben says.

Hydrogen Peroxide
According to the CDC, household (3 percent) hydrogen peroxide is effective in deactivating rhinovirus, the virus that causes the common cold, within 6 to 8 minutes of exposure. Rhinovirus is more difficult to destroy than coronaviruses, so hydrogen peroxide should be able to break down coronavirus in less time. Pour it undiluted into a spray bottle and spray it on the surface to be cleaned, but let it sit on the surface for several minutes. 

Hydrogen peroxide is not corrosive, so it’s okay to use it on metal surfaces. But similar to bleach, it can discolor fabrics if you accidentally get in on your clothes. “It’s great for getting into hard-to-reach crevices,” Sachleben says. “You can pour it on the area and you don’t have to wipe it off because it essentially decomposes into oxygen and water.”

What Not to Use Against Coronavirus

Homemade Hand Sanitizer
You’re probably seeing all sorts of hand sanitizer recipes floating around your social media and the internet, but Thomas, at Upstate Medical in Syracuse, advises against making your own. “People don’t know the right ratios to use, and the internet won’t give you the right answer,” he warns. “Not only can you hurt yourself, but it could give you a false sense of security.” 

Sachleben seconds that advice. “I’m a professional chemist, and I don’t mix my own disinfectant products at home,” he says. “Companies spend a bunch of time and money to pay chemists specifically to formulate hand sanitizers that work and that are safe. If you make it yourself, how can you know if it’s stable or if it works?”

There are widely circulated recipes on the internet using vodka to combat coronavirus. A couple of vodka makers, including Tito’s and Smirnoff, have already come out with statements telling their customers that their 80-proof product does not contain enough ethyl alcohol (40 percent compared with the 70 percent required) to kill the coronavirus. 

Distilled White Vinegar
Disinfection recommendations using vinegar are popular online, but there is no evidence that they are effective against coronavirus. (Read about the 9 things you should never clean with vinegar.)

Planning a Local Event? Risk-informed decision-making for mass gatherings during COVID-19 global outbreak

Mass gatherings occur in a range of public places (e.g., spiritual and cultural settings, theatres, sports arenas, festivals, conference halls) and result in a large number of people being in close contact for extended periods of time.  Mass gatherings can contribute to the transmission of respiratory pathogens, such as the virus causing the current outbreaks of COVID-19. However, mass gatherings are not homogenous and the risk must be assessed on a case-by-case basis by Public Health Authorities, event organizers and relevant planners. Canceling large events may be recommended from a public health perspective, but compliance and sustainability may be difficult and may cause significant social disruption and public resistance.

PHAC recommends conducting a risk assessment when determining the public health actions related to a mass gathering during the COVID-19 outbreak.  This involves assessing the epidemiology, related impacts, and the weight (importance) of each of the factors involved in the risk assessment.  The rationale for the potential health risks of mass gatherings include: increased crowd density, restricted points of access/exit which force participants through high touch areas (e.g. doors, elevators), and limited medical care. The diversity of spectators and participants can be varied which can increase the risk of communicable disease transmission due to close contact with people who have a diverse risk factors and/or immunological status. Limited environmental cleaning and the potential for individual health measures (e.g. hand hygiene) may play a role in increasing health risks at mass gatherings.

This tool was based on advice contained in the World Health Organization’s mass gathering guidanceFootnote 1.  Public Health Guidance on COVID-19 is available on, with community-based measures (including mass gatherings).

Decisions regarding mass gatherings can be considered on a continuum from no changes needed, to enhanced communication to attendees, to risk mitigation strategies being employed without cancelling the event, through to postponement or cancellation of the event.

Risk mitigation strategies could include:

  • reducing the number of participants or changing the venue to prevent crowding;
  • staggering arrivals and departures;
  • providing packaged refreshments instead of a buffet;
  • increasing access to handwashing stations;
  • promoting personal protective practices (hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, staying home if ill);
  • offering virtual or live-streamed activities; and
  • changing the event program to reduce high risk activities such as those that require physical contact between participants.

Since mass gathering events, their settings, and participants/attendees are generally unique, the advice varies regarding which measures should be implemented.   Public health authorities and event organizers must work together to assess the situation. The following risk considerations related to the event, the disease, and the environment/setting are provided to promote a systematic review of risk and to inform decision-making.  The classic epidemiologic triad contributes to the framework for risk assessment by highlighting the interplay between the host (in this case, the mass gathering event), the agent (SARS CoV 2 causing COVID-19) and the environment/setting (the broader context of the gathering in terms of its geographic location and associated resources).

More things you can do:
• Address key strategies in your emergency operations plan
• Promote daily practice of everyday preventative actions for respiratory infections.
• Provide COVID-19 prevention supplies at your event (e.g., adequate supply of soap, hand sanitizers, tissues, disposable facemasks (if someone develops symptoms)).
• Plan for staff absences
• Increase social distancing (e.g., separation of 2 metres, not shaking hands, avoiding communal sleeping areas)
• Eliminating self-serve buffet style eating at social/religious gatherings or sharing food/drinks
• Promote messaging to discourage those who are sick or have high risk medical conditions from attending
• Identify a space where participants can self-isolate if they become ill -an important measure to prevent transmission.
• Develop flexible refund policies for participants from affected areas
• Identify actions you need to take if you need to post-pone or cancel your event (e.g., insurance, vendor cancellation), or re-arrange your event (e.g., offering virtual participation, live streaming).
• If possible, collect comprehensive contact information on participants as this may be needed by public health.

Communicate about COVID-19:
• Keep up to date with the local situation and current public health advice.
• Providing clear communication to participants before attending about the risks and advice on how to protect themselves and others to reduce virus transmission to inform individual decision making about attending the event.
• Update and distribute timely and accurate emergency communication information.
• Know who is in your chain of communication (e.g., event staff, participants, suppliers, vendors, community partners, stakeholders) and establish systems for sharing.
• Identify potential language, cultural, and disability barriers associated with communicating COVID-19 information to event staff and participants.

Ways you can support artists, creative businesses and freelancers

Many businesses, organizations and people are finding themselves in the position of canceling public events and gatherings due to the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. This is disappointing and scary for a lot of organizations and businesses who rely on in-person events to fulfill their mission and to generate income. It also has the potential to be extremely damaging to artists and other freelancers’ economic stability.

Many artists heavily rely on contract work to make a living, feed their families and to sustain themselves. We know that many artists do this work without strong contracts that protect them from cancellations or loss of income. We recognize that canceling or postponing events is a hardship for everyone involved and we encourage businesses and organizations to help mitigate the impact on artists, freelancers and contractors.

Together we can help sustain our vital creative community by taking the following actions, even if you are not contractually obligated:

1. If you can, postpone the event and keep the artist’s contract in place, even if you don’t yet have a date for the future event, the reassurance that you intend to reschedule and honor your commitment is important.

2. Consider transferring your event online. Can you reimagine the event as a video or web-based offering? Classes, workshops, and even fundraising events might be able to take place in a new way.

3. If you have paid an upfront fee or deposit to an artist, do not ask for the fee to be returned.

4. If the artist has invested time in planning, supplies or other preparation, compensate them fairly for this work.

5. If the artist has hired other artists to be a part of the event or project, talk with them about how you can work together to compensate these artists.

6. Discuss other opportunities with the artist, if the event or project must be cancelled are there other things you might be able to hire the artist to do? Webinars, graphics for your social media accounts, performances at a future fundraising event, writing case studies or conducting interviews to share your work, creating drawings for a publication. Invite artists to think creatively about how you might be able to work together in other ways.

Other ways you can support artists, creative businesses and freelancers:

1. If you have flexibility in your budget consider moving up the start date of projects that don’t take place in person. Can you contract with artists now that you might not have reached out to until later in the year?

2. Promote artists work online, encourage your supporters and followers to buy their work.

3. Buy gift cards from your favorite venues, artists, chefs, and restaurants — you can make sure the creative businesses that make our community strong can survive AND give yourself something to look forward to!

4. Write to your local and political representatives and encourage them to support measures to include artists and creative businesses in economic relief efforts.

The Above links and Resources can be found here; The Guardian, Public Health, Blog, Gov of Canada, Ministry of Education, PBS, Springboard for the Arts, Medium,