The past 20 days have seen an outbreak of a seriously infectious virus originating in Wuhan, China.
The Chinese government has quarantined over 1-million people at this point, cutting off ingress and egress to multiple cities, as well as screening all travelers moving through their airports.
We been through this before – SARS, EBOLA, Bird Flu, etc. None of which became even close to the issue the fortune tellers told us they would become. Of course, with the warnings came a clearing of shelves of duct tape and plastic sheeting, mostly by people who had no idea what to do with it once in their possession.
So, how bad is this one?
I haven’t a clue. I’m not a virologist, on the board of the CDC, privy to Homeland Security meetings, or on the ground in China. My guess is as good as yours.
What I do know is the rate at which the Coronavirus is spreading is hyper-fast. There are rumors all over the net about it being a bio-weapon – wouldn’t surprise me, but, again, knowledge that’s above my pay-grade.
The Chinese are worried. They broke ground yesterday for a 1000-bed hospital they plan on completing in FIVE days. Now, they did the same thing during the SARS outbreak, so maybe that means nothing.
What concerns me is the virus appears to be communicable BEFORE symptoms appear – so much for checking the temperatures of passengers at the airport. Passing it on before symptoms can be noted means there’s no way to contain it other than absolute quarantining of EVERYONE. And that opportunity may have already passed.
5 cases have been confirmed in the US, and one in Canada. That seems like nothing to concern ourselves with, but the incubation period for most carriers hasn’t expired yet – that means it will be getting much worse before it gets better.
The question is, how much worse, and will it hit the US in any meaningful way? Again, I don’t have a clue.
My suspicions are that the reports of infection have been greatly under-reported, and the virus will spread around the Asian rim (cases now confirmed in Japan.) That will affect trade should enough travel and movement be restricted. In turn, the stock market will be embarking on a bumpy ride as all of this develops. Until there’s an official announcement from the White House, I don’t see much use in losing sleep over it. However, I’ve also been around long enough to understand that when it’s important, government is usually a month late and millions over budget, so…
My advice today to the advisable is this:
You have nothing to lose by making sure you have what you need to stay home for a few weeks. 3 weeks is barely enough time for extra milk to go bad. Having bottled water, food, extra medications, plenty of batteries, etc., is a minor expense that is spent on things you will eventually use anyway.
I don’t suggest doing anything that will strain your pocketbook, your employment, or your relationships.
I do suggest making minor preparations geared towards having what you need to ride out a 3-week quarantine in the event you find yourself in the middle of one.
Should this virus fizzle out, you’re not out anything but your time, which is a fair trade for using this event as a practice run for something more serious.
I also suggest doing it NOW. Like, as soon as you’ve finished reading this. Once a quarantine is in place, you won’t be running out to Costco. And only a fool would try.
Make your list, and start filling it.
– Food and water for every member of the family, including pets. Go heavy on food that does not require refrigeration or cooking and will store should you not need to use it immediately. YOU CANNOT HAVE TOO MUCH WATER.
– All prescriptions filled.
– Toilet paper, toiletries. Lots of towels and spare linens.
– Most hospitals use hydrogen peroxide as a disinfectant during viral outbreaks. You might want a gallon of that around.
– Spare batteries – and in this day of internet and satellite TV, a regular battery powered AM/FM radio should be in your home in the event all other communications go down.
– It’s January, and many parts of the nation are COLD. Alternative heating methods need to be considered.
– All vehicle’s gas tanks topped off. A few 5-gallon cans in reserve.
– And, of course, whatever defensive preparations you think are prudent.
Again, the time to have such things in place is BEFORE the emergency. If you live in a state that requires a permit to carry, and that permit takes weeks or months to acquire, expecting to get one during an emergency is a pipe dream.
Lastly, the most important thing you can do is PAY ATTENTION. Keep your finger on the pulse of this. Listen to the reports, take note of where new cases pop up, and how rapidly it seems to be moving. There may come a moment when you will have to make the call to stay home (and keep your family home), or leave early from your vacation or work trip, rather than risk exposure. Mentally prepare now to make that decision. Better a day early than a minute too late!
It’s my most sincere hope that this event passes in the next few days and we continue to go about life as normal. Of course, I also hope a rich benefactor remembers me in their will, and that I will never get old – Hope is not a game plan.
The prudent understand life on planet Earth is a risky business – They plan accordingly.