Yesterday’s Presidential/CDC press conference had little effect on quelling any stock market jitters. Today the Dow dipped below the correction threshold, losing close to 1200 points. There are now 51 nations with cases.

Regardless of the actual severity of the situation, public panic will eventually set it if there isn’t an immediate reversal of the illnesses spread. Should the path we’re on continue into next week, expect “crazy” to begin at Costco.

Personally, I’m not a fan of crowds, especially emotionally charged ones ready to exchange blows over the last package of toilet paper. If you think preparations are prudent step, then stop reading and go get what you need now. If you’re set to stay home through a quarantine, then read on.

I’ve lived through duck and cover drills in the 70’s, being told the Russians were going to reign nuclear hell fire down on us. Global cooling and global warming predictions. Acid rain, “hole” in the ozone, 3 Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima. The ’87 stock market crash, the 2008 economic implosion, and the Obama administration. Two Gulf Wars, 9/11, Y2K, and recently I endured The Irishman on Netflix. On top of all that, for my entire existence on the planet there has always been some religious zealot trying to convince everyone that “the end times are upon us!”

All of these things have come and gone, and the world has not ended. I suspect the same will be said of COVID-19

However, I can say with complete confidence that today, as I type this, people I know who are in the know are spooked. They are taking this thing quite seriously and advising me to do the same. (You can take that or leave it)

What does that mean to me? It means the threat is real and no one knows how bad it will get, or when it will end. That uncertainty has my contacts loading up on supplies and tripling up on their family’s prescriptions. They don’t see it as “hype” or “only something nations with less sophisticated health care” must worry about. They see it as an event that is beyond any real control since a vaccine is a year out (at best) and the only guaranteed way to stop it is complete lock down, which isn’t going to happen before it spreads to the point of causing problems so big the damage will already be done.

So, where does that leave us?

Well, for those thinking they need solar panels, bottled water, gold bullion, and all manner of survival supplies – go with god. If any catastrophe occurs that collapses the world economy and results in grids going down, water supplies being cut off, and mass famine, we’re in a situation that is beyond any “survival preparation” short of a bunker city with its own nuclear reactor and pharmaceutical manufacturing capability. We all need to get the science fiction out of our heads and ground ourselves in reality.

My threat level on this is now at 5 of 10. (Review: 1 = not even on the radar, 10 = Armageddon is upon us. It was nice knowing you.)

5 is this:

– Preparations of food, medicine, toiletries, pet food, fuel, batteries, and disinfection and medical supplies should be the priority over the next 48-hours.  Again, don’t spend money you don’t have. DON’T GO INTO DEBT. Don’t buy things you will never use.  Have all of your needs in place for a 45-day quarantine by Monday.  [As I was writing this, I was informed suppliers are completely sold out of Mountain House storage food. I did a quick search – they are.] Of course, don’t head out into the world unarmed! Desperate people do desperate things, so keep your eyes open at all times during your shopping. Do not converse with anyone about who you are or why you are making your purchases, and notice those who notice you, especially as you load your vehicle.

– Sit down with your spouse/family and decide when you will stop leaving the house. Figure out what has to happen for you to pull the plug on sending the kids to school.

– Unnecessary public gatherings should be nixed. Concerts, sporting events, movie theaters – any recreational crowd gathering should not be on your agenda.  (Funerals, weddings, etc., are going to happen, and I understand they can’t be avoided at this point without causing relationship problems. See below for procedures on navigating those events.)

– Public transportation is a surgical gloves and mask affair from this point on.  Trains, buses, planes, cabs, ride sharing vehicles – don’t use any of them without protecting yourself.

– Sanitary directives need to be issued from every employer. A morning meeting with employees needs to be immediately scheduled, and guidelines for personal and public hygiene need to be reviewed. Ask your employer to provide wipes for general cleaning of door knobs and bathrooms, and gloves if you deal with the public at large.

– And as a general directive for daily life, all of us should undertake the following habits:

1 – Wash hands as often as possible. Never pass up an opportunity. Wash before touching any food. Wash after touching anything in public, e.g. door handles, key pads, etc…

2 – Disinfect your key, credit, and debit cards daily. Every time you stick one of those in a reader, and press buttons, you’re exposing yourself to the last 100 people who did the same after they used the bathroom and didn’t wash their hands.

3 – Monitor hygiene and hand washing with the children in your charge. Remind them regularly of proper procedures.

4 – Disinfect your cell phone, and all other items you carry daily.

5 – Keep a sprayer of disinfectant in every bathroom. Toilet and faucet handles should be sprayed with every use. At home, at work.

6 – Door knobs/handles, hand railings, light switches, key pads, keyboards, the copy machine display – everything people regularly touch needs to be disinfected at regular intervals.

7 – If you’re sick, stay home! If your symptoms are that of COVID-19, get to an ER immediately and notify the staff that you think it is such.

Grocery stores provide wipes for the cart handles – USE THEM!

8 – Your personal bad habits need to stop, now. If you pick your nose and then shake someone’s hand, not only are you exposing them to potential harm, it will also work in the reverse against you. Unless you’re a sociopath, knock it off – it’s grownup adult time. Your health is at stake and so is everyone else’s.

The only way we’re going to put this crisis to bed is through individual effort. Every single one of us must take hygiene seriously. Consider it your patriotic duty to quit sneezing on your hand and touching the rest of the world.

Keep it clean, “For God and country!”

Again, it is my most sincere hope that this will be a bad memory two weeks from now, but hope is not a plan. The prudent will do their own research and act accordingly. And the window to act is closing.