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How people can prepare for the next pandemic

Doctors say the way we prepare for hurricanes can teach us some valuable lessons in dealing with other public emergencies.

TAMPA, Fla. — COVID-19 wasn't the first pandemic, and medical experts tell us, it will not be the last. 

Just days ago, Vice President Kamala Harris addressed the United Nations about being prepared for the next pandemic as we continue to fight this one.

 "We need to invest in science, health workers, the wellbeing of women and our public institutions so they are prepared for the next emergency. Finally, we must be responsive. We need surge capacity in every region so that every country can access personal protective equipment, vaccines and tests."

So, how do we prepare ourselves for something like that? 

Every year here in Florida, we prepare for hurricanes, and that can really give us some insight into how we can be ready for another pandemic.  

"You see it coming, we can predict it a little bit better, people take it more seriously and they board up their houses, they get their water and their toilet paper and they exit when they can and that's worked. We've done very good at that,"  said Dr. Jay Wolfson, a public health expert from the University of South Florida. 

He says when there's a hurricane, we get very clear messages from our local and state government on what to do and where to go, and in most cases we listen.

We also take on that personal responsibility of getting our own hurricane kit together. Experts say we need to do the same for a pandemic. 

"Personal responsibility is the absolute core factor that will define our ability to manage against it, but we're not very good at that."

Author and Concierge Physician, Dr. Ken Redcross agrees that we should all plan ahead.

 "I love the fact that we're talking about this preparedness when it comes to viruses. Obviously, our focus right now is on the coronavirus, but influenza is still circulating and these viruses may continue to come."

He recommends putting a kit together now to protect you from illness:

  1.  Thermometer: If you don't have one by now, get one. When your temp is above 100.5 you should talk to your doctor.
  2. Keep supplies of vitamin D, magnesium and probiotics and take them regularly.
  3. Have a good supply of masks, gloves and antibacterial wipes on hand at all times.
  4. Create a relationship with your primary care doctor. Redcross believes this might be the most important thing you can do.

"That patient doctor relationship should have four things: It should have trust, respect, empathy and communication. And, all four of those are huge during this time of the coronavirus." That trust and communication will come in handy when you are getting mixed messages from other sources. 

RELATED: Gov. DeSantis extends Florida's COVID-19 emergency order

The future may be uncertain when it comes to pandemics, but Redcross said we can be certain about one thing and that's taking care of ourselves. "This day has come and it's something for us to really think about and make sure we're realizing these germs, our environment is teeming with these things, but now we're more mindful of that because of COVID."

There are a couple more things to consider when it comes to pandemics and illnesses.

Dr. Redcross says it's important to get any chronic conditions under control and treated regularly. Also get plenty of sleep and exercise regularly.

RELATED: Florida coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, deaths, vaccinations and recoveries

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