My threat level on 1 to 10 is now a 5.5, and will be moving to a 6 if the economic situation gets any worse over the next 1 to 2 weeks. A perfect storm of intersecting events will be required for this to ever go over my level 7, however, that foundation has certainly been set and is not out of the realm of possibility.
At this point it’s a given we will all be (or have been) exposed to the virus. Most of us will experience it on one level or another, and most of us will be fine. My concern is not the virus proper, but rather the economic issues the world now faces as commerce grinds to a halt and markets continue to crash.
Shelves started to clear over the last week, and I’ve been getting reports all day today from around the country that the “quickening” seems to have arrived with that. The next 48-hours will be interesting.
In my best estimate (take it for what that’s worth, which is some guy who graduated high school typing an opinion) is that at the present pace the supply chains for necessities – food and medicine – are 30 days from disintegrating. They may be two weeks out, they may be two months out, but it’s the biggest issue we face next to an overloaded medical system.
It’s March 12th and we are moving into spring, which means crops need to go to ground. Yes, in many places there’s a month or two of leeway for corn, etc., however, crops are hard to plant when Cargill and Monsanto send all their employees’ home for a month and agricultural necessities are not being produced. Fuel, fertilizer, seeds, machine parts, trucking, etc., all need to be in place when the fields are dry and the calendar window is open.
We simply can’t instruct the entire world to stay home for the next month and not perpetuate a famine. I hope I’m wrong, and I hope there are surplus food stores that will fill in the gap [and hope isn’t a plan.] I just can’t see it being feasible for the entire planet. A bad year taking out a percentage of Nebraska corn – sure, the world can absorb that and make due. Nothing shipping, nothing growing, no one working- that’s a big problem.
I’m not convinced we’re doomed to that path, I’m simply pointing out that something has to give in the next few weeks or that’s where we’re headed.
Medically, the issue again is not the “survivability” of this virus, it’s the potential overload of critical care facilities. The US has around 45,000 ICU beds, and that number could probably be expanded a bit by converting some rooms and dragging old equipment out of storage. Of course, they would need to be staffed, and as we’re seeing in Seattle, doctors and nurses start running thin really quickly. We’re also using a number that assumes none of the beds or staff are needed to treat cancer patients or accident victims, etc… And, are there enough of all the other supplies needed – masks, gloves, intubation tubes, disinfectants, etc…?
The idea of shutting down events, schools, and businesses is a sound one if the object is to slow the spread of the virus so critical cases are kept at a manageable number at any given time – pace it out instead of all at once. Of course, the flip side is the economic destruction the practice causes and the potential for the food production disaster I outlined above.
We’re in a bit of a Catch22, here.
I have no answer or prediction.
Words to the wise, if you must leave the house, do so armed. This is not the time to roll the dice of fate on your personal security.
In public, no hand shaking – keep your distance. Carry wipes with you and disinfect any keypad, pump handle, etc., you’re going to touch. Disinfect your phone and debit/credit cards constantly. WASH YOUR HANDS EVERY CHANCE YOU GET!
It may also be prudent at this point to withdraw a small of amount of cash to keep at home. The banking system is in an incredible mess right now, and it’s anyone’s guess how it’s going to play out. Don’t be surprised if there is a banking holiday or if accounts are frozen.
Lastly, a hint for those of you who might be behind the curve: Office supply stores and hardware stores carry hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and disinfecting wipes. Many have not been raided…yet.
Dr. John Campbell’s update for today: