a peek inside the fishbowl

07 Mar, 2020

Are you worried about coronavirus?

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life

Ottawa Public Health has declared that risk is very low, but news of the virus is so widespread and pervasive right now that it’s hard not to want to do something in response.

What have you done, or changed, in response to COVID-19?


1) One thing I’ve changed is that I wash my hands with a frequency and dedication that has never existed in my Personal History of Handwashing, especially at work. (As some of you know, I work in a health care setting.)

Someone on Twitter said their hand washing intensity was at the same level as if they had just deseeded a jalapeño with their bare hands and needed to take their contacts out.

That is intense.

I practice Complete Handwashing. This means using enough soap to create a good lather followed by 20 seconds of rubbing my hands together (as per video!) before rinsing. Some people sing a song in their heads (apparently two rounds of “happy birthday” does the trick) but I just use this time as a mini meditation.

2) I use hand sanitizer between hand washings. It is widely available at work so I use it freely and frequently. I thought it would dry out my skin but so far, so good. Some people use hand sanitizer after washing their hands for complete coverage. NOTED.

3) Related to this, I keep my fingernails short.

4) Related to this, I try to use my non-dominant hand to open doors and don’t touch things in common areas like elevator buttons and handrails if I can help it.

5) I bought Lysol wipes for my office at work.

6) I try not to touch my face, but it’s hard, because I do it without thinking. It helps if I have something in my right hand, like a stress ball (or stress avocado):

Squeezy avocado toy

Here’s an article with some tips that might be helpful if you are the kind of person who touches their face.

7) We stocked our pantry. (Notice I used the word STOCKED UP instead of stockpiled!)

Stocking up

We aren’t buying water, generators, or kerosene-powered camp stoves at this stage, but I think it’s a good idea to have a pantry that’s full instead of empty in case one of us needs to stay home for 14 days.

I made an “emergency supply” list, but it was hard to know whether to approach it from the perspective of being healthy or ill. If I’m fighting the flu, I probably won’t want to be baking loaves of bread or making pancakes from scratch. So convenience had to take priority.

My shopping list was also drawn up with a few other things in mind. If we are confined to our home, we’ll eat perishable goods first. Plus, we already have bunch of pantry staples, like rice, flour, cooking oil. (If we didn’t, those things would be on the list.)

Also, we don’t have a chest freezer, which is a tiny bit of a downer, otherwise we’d really be able to stock up on frozen fruit, veg, meat, and bread. As it stands, if anything happens we will be bit limited in this department.

I also debated whether to buy enough food to feed two, four, or more people. What if extended family needed supplies? Our grocery shop the other night was planned with the intent of feeding two people for two weeks. We bought food we like to eat (no 20lb bags of dry beans for us!) so we can slowly nibble away our supplies if nothing comes of this. The next time we go grocery shopping we will continue to buy doubles of the things we normally buy.

Our emergency food supply list for Operation Restock the Pantry (two weeks worth of food)
(keeping in mind we already have some food at home – in our pantry, fridge, and small freezer):

Canned meat and fish
Vegetables (canned and in jars)
canned fruit
canned beans
Soup, stew, chili (boxes and cans)
ramen noodles
peanut butter
pancake mix (the kind that only needs water)
large bag of rolled oats
container of steel cut oats
dry pasta (and KD!)
pasta sauce
whole grain crackers
dried fruit and nuts
non-perishable milk (in boxes and cans)
boxed juices (1L boxes)
coffee and hot chocolate mix
granola bars
toilet paper

Speaking of grocery stores, I predict a quick end to sample tables at Costco and olive bars in the coming weeks. What do you think?

2 Responses to "Are you worried about coronavirus?"

1 | Beverley

March 9th, 2020 at 3:17 pm


This is a good list, thanks.
We have also stocked up, not stockpiled. And we have also stocked items if we do get the flu – ginger ale (to flatten), veggie broth, soda crackers.
Being prepared helps, a bit, to mitigate fear.

2 | a peek inside the fishbowl » Blog Archive Coronavirus in Ottawa, part 2 - a peek inside the fishbowl

March 14th, 2020 at 1:20 pm


[…] few things have changed since my previous post about what we are doing now that COVID-19 has arrived in […]

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human daughters: Emma (20) and Sarah (18). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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