Shopping list

Coronavirus shopping list: your essential quarantine items

With the coronavirus pandemic upon us, Americans coast to coast are facing the very real prospect of having to spend two weeks cooped up in their homes. This raises an urgent question: what supplies should you have on hand to carry around during the fortnight?

Toilet paper and bottled water have flown off store shelves, but the list of essentials is a bit longer, the UC Riverside epidemiologist said Brandon Brown.

Before we discuss what’s in it, let’s pause to consider when an extended stay at home is warranted. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that some people self-quarantine for 14 days if they have been in close contact with someone they know is infected. Additionally, people with symptoms of COVID-19 — including a cough, fever, and shortness of breath — should self-isolate for 14 days, according to the CDC.

Keep in mind that people who feel well are currently only asked to stay home if they meet very specific criteria for close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient, or if they have recently returned from certain countries where the coronavirus is spreading widely.

Brown himself was quarantined for a few days in Singapore during the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS. He spoke with the Los Angeles Times about how he would stock up for a possible rehearsal.

Do not hoard

First, Brown pointed out that many people probably already have much of what they might need at home, so there’s no reason to empty store shelves when more consumers vulnerable, such as the elderly or those with weakened immune systems, may actually need supplies. at present.

“We should also think not only of ourselves but also of others,” he said. “Take what you need and leave the rest.”

Dried products

These will last a long time in your pantry, but are easy to throw in a pot and bake. Think beans, rice, cereals and pasta, he said. Nuts are also a good snack option.

Canned food

Canned fruits and vegetables may not taste as good as fresh, but they keep much longer. And soups will come in handy if you start to feel bad.

fresh food

If you have a fridge, there’s no reason not to have at least some fresh produce and meat, which can be kept cold or even frozen. Try to pick fruits and vegetables that will last a while so you can spread them out throughout your stay.

Frozen food

Easy meals that you can put in the microwave can be a good idea if you have a freezer and don’t feel ready to cook every day.

fun food

Just because you’re in self-quarantine doesn’t mean you have to eat like the apocalypse is upon us. Chips, candy and other snacks are a good idea in moderation, Brown said.


If you need a daily dose of caffeine to feel human and you usually take it outside the house, it’s a good idea to make sure you have some coffee or tea to brew at home. house, he added.

The water

You probably have access to drinking water through your tap, so refilling it isn’t imperative, Brown said. But if for some reason you don’t have running drinking water at home, it might be a good idea to get a two-week supply from the store.


Specifically, the type of soap you would use to wash your hands. This one is essential, because you can kill the coronavirus with a thorough scrub that lasts at least 20 seconds.

Oh, and don’t worry about running out of hand sanitizer when you’re home. If you’ve self-quarantined or isolated, you’re not moving around in shared public spaces and therefore don’t really need to. Also, washing your hands is almost always a better option, as long as soap and water are available.

“It’s important to have soap, it’s important to have water — and if you have those two things, you don’t need hand sanitizer,” Brown said.

Other cleaning and hygiene supplies

Don’t forget to make sure you have a few weeks worth of dish soap, laundry detergent and, of course, toilet paper.

“It’s important to have enough laundry detergent so you don’t have to wear the same dirty underwear for two weeks,” he said.


Make sure that any prescriptions or over-the-counter medications you use regularly are filled for at least the two weeks you will be off duty.

baby supplies

The good news for young people is that they seem to be less vulnerable to COVID-19 than their elders. But if they’re home with you, you should always make sure you have enough formula, baby food, diapers, and other essentials.

Pet supplies

Ditto for your pets! Make sure you have enough pet food, litter, and other supplies on hand.


Alright, so it’s not something you buy at the grocery store. But to pass the time, you’ll probably want access to streaming entertainment and the outside world.

Other Tips

Stay social: Be sure to connect with your friends and family. Video chat is a good option, and phone calls are also fine. It is essential to maintain these ties when you are physically isolated from the community as a whole.

“It’s super important because as humans, we’re social animals,” Brown said.

Exercise: If you can find the space, try practicing a little. Being locked in one place can get you down, and endorphins are great mood boosters.

Have a routine: If you’re used to getting up, making breakfast, showering, and getting dressed for work, do those things even if you’re working from home. Maintaining a sense of normalcy is important when the rhythms of your daily life have been disrupted, Brown said.