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The coronavirus is spreading rapidly around the globe.
A group of New York City preppers recently shared their tips for what to keep in an Every Day Carry, or "EDC" kit during the coronavirus outbreak.
Top preparedness items include wet wipes, alcohol prep pads, and a squeeze bottle of soap.
On the second floor of Our Saviour 's Atonement Lutheran church near the tip of upper Manhattan, sitting under colorful strings of un-illuminated Christmas lights, around a dozen New Yorkers came together on a recent Sunday to discuss how to better prepare for the novel coronavirus.
It would be just hours later when New York would announce its first case of COVID-19, the viral illness caused by that virus.
But the group's prepper-in-chief remained unconcerned.
"I wouldn't be scared yet, I wouldn't even be nervous," Jason Charles told the crowd, standing before them in black fatigues, a black baseball cap, and a black t-shirt that read "fearless" down the side.
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For the past eight years, Charles has been running the New York City preppers network, a small and diverse group of concerned citizens preparing for the end of society as we know it, whether it may come by a natural disaster or one created by humankind.
Charles says he's not concerned the coronavirus will be the "end game" for humanity, for a few key reasons. The virus appears to be spreading slowly around the world, the majority of cases reported are mild, and the virus doesn't appear to be mutating much as it hops from person to person.
"If you have a healthy immune system ... you're going to be able to fight it off," Charles said, noting that the overwhelming majority of cases to date have recovered from the novel coronavirus.
The virus does have a low fatality rate overall, and around 80% cases to date have been mild. But the death toll for COVID-19 mounts quickly with age, and some of the most vulnerable groups have included people with heart issues, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, and chronic respiratory disease.
To better prevent infection and keep people healthy, Charles prepared a list of go-to items that everyone should take with them when they leave the house. Here are the top items he suggested we should all be carrying in our EDC — every day carry kit — during the COVID-19 outbreak.
1. Wet wipes
Not just for babies anymore. If they're sold out in the drugstores, it's relatively easy to make your own using a concentration of at least 60% alcohol (rubbing alcohol works well) and paper towels.
"When you get off the train, or the bus, or you shake somebody's hands and you don't know their hygiene, wipe your hands," Charles said.
The novel coronavirus is an enveloped virus, which means that the virus is completely surrounded by an outer lipid membrane, and thus relatively easy to kill off with disinfectants.
2. A spray disinfectant
If you'd rather not carry wipes around, you can spray surfaces instead with a travel-size handheld cleaner. Make sure you're keeping any surface that you want to clean wet for long enough to disinfect it thoroughly (This can take around 3-5 minutes, check the label of your product).
3. A small squeeze bottle of soap
Regular, judicious handwashing with soap and water is by far the best prevention measure to avoid contracting COVID-19. But good hand hygiene is not always easy to achieve when public restrooms are perpetually out of soap. Bring your own suds so you don't have to worry next time you're at the sink.
Charles fills a small, travel-size squeeze bottle from his home soap dispenser.
"If you sneeze in your hand, go to the bathroom, wash your hands," he said. "You don't want to shake anyone else's hand in case you might have [COVID-19], and you don't know."
In a pinch, hand sanitizer works too, though studies show it's never as thorough at eliminating pathogens as an old-fashioned scrub under the faucet.
4. You can carry alcohol prep pads to wipe down your phone, but be careful not to hurt your screen
The old advice about how smartphone screens have a coating that might be damaged by surface cleaners like alcohol has been debunked. Manufacturers now admit you can wipe down your phone with 70% isopropyl alcohol wipes, or Clorox disinfecting wipes.
One of the audience members at the prepper chat said she carries alcohol prep pads with her — the same kind nurses use to clean your arm before you get a shot.
Gerald Martineau/The The Washington Post via Getty Images
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