Since last Friday, much has changed. I mentioned last week that I was considering moving up my personal DEFCON list — and I am doing so. I have moved from Sit Up to Really?!?
I want to reiterate that there is no need for panic, but there is a strong need to be alert, be informed, and be prepared. As part of raising my personal DEFCON, I’m going to be making some changes to my preparation list. Why raise and change?
First, while the origins are important, what truly matters now is that it appears to be spread when carriers are asymptomatic; it spreads by multiple vectors, not all of which are understood at this time; and, while the evidence is anecdotal at this time, there appear to be far more “super infectors” than normal.
There have always been super infectors in every epidemic. Just look up Typhoid Mary. The number associated with COVID19 just appears to keep growing.
Add in that the infection is not the normal bell curve, as the infection rate in children is so low (based on known data) as to be statistically zero, and we have something truly interesting. That said, let me say again that this is NOT a Capt. Tripps or even close based on what we are seeing. Again, there is cause to be concerned, but not for panic.
Second, it has now spread well beyond China. I’m not going to get into the Chinese government lying about it, or using a variety of means to delay travel restrictions that would have benefited the rest of the world, other than to note that they did and it screwed the rest of the world.
For me, what tipped me over to raising the DEFCON was Iran and Italy. I am not happy about South Korea, or that Japan’s bureaucracy may have screwed them over on a massive level. To the point I think Abe out to just buy tantos bulk and hand them out top to bottom in the appropriate ministries.
To be frank, I think a lot of us were hoping that South Korea, Japan, and Australia would be a buffer, and while that may happen it isn’t looking good right now save for Australia.
Late last week, word began to go out that Iran, which has no known exposure through travel and such, had cases. It has now been reported (though not in the U.S. that I have found) that officials in the Iranian government are admitting that it is in every major city no matter the official pronouncements. Take the latter with the same tun of salt that one uses with the official word out of China. To top it off, at least one case in Lebanon has been linked back to the outbreak in Iran.
Given that it is a totalitarian state, and given what I can find out about public health and related systems, Iran could well go the way of China. In any event, I’m willing to bet that more than one infected person has left since the outbreak, and to places other than Lebanon. To those countries or places that are hosting QUDS and other clandestine Iranian visits: Welcome to the wonderful world of COVID19!
Now, add in the outbreak(s) in Italy, and you have something spreading far faster than anyone wanted or hoped.
This morning, it is being reported that Britain expects to be hit before the end of the week. My faith in Europe holding as such is not high. I see a couple of countries that I think may be able to pull it off, but am not sure about most of the others including a couple of the “big” countries.
In short, the effort to contain the worst of it to SE Asia has failed. Given what I mentioned above, there never was any chance of stopping it from spreading. Accordingly, the CDC’s approach has been on slowing down the rate of infection to give time to develop treatments, vaccines, and to get the resources in place to deal with it. Given that such could fail, they have also been making preparations to quarantine small to major areas via shutting down schools, businesses, and curtailing travel. Prudent, and a good step to take.
I’m revising my previous preparation list a bit. So, here’s what I recommend now.
First, get with your doctor or pharmacist and get 90-day supplies (or more) of your medicines, as well as any OTCs and supplements. The FDA reportedly has a list of 150 drugs that they expect to see in short supply (soon, also ignore the blatant politics in the story) as a result of the loss of Chinese production. While I don’t have that list, here is the current FDA info on drug shortages. Given that China also provides raw materials and precursor materials for an even wider array of drugs and supplements… There will be shortages soon, so do this first.
Second, the primary impact will be economic. Drugs, steel, electronics — the list goes on. Thanks to the Trump economy and a number of new treaties, the U.S. economy is in the best shape it has been in decades. Is it going to hurt us? Yes. Could that downturn lead to an even greater economy? Yes.
People are waking up to the mistake that has been our previous China policy. There was already decoupling underway, and it is now accelerating. There are efforts already underway to return medical and other manufacturing to the U.S., as well as efforts to develop new resources in and outside of SE Asia. Thanks to the economy and economic incentives, as well as a still-improving regulatory environment, businesses have the liquidity and incentive to partake and accelerate. More on this later.
That said, retooling or setting up new production facilities — even under an emergency basis — will take at least a year. Some may get into production sooner, as you can bet the government/administration will be doing all it can to make that possible. But, the majority will not.
This re-investment in America and American production, along with helping others get going, can lead to an even greater economy. Keep in mind, the Trump Doctrine enshrines America First, but nowhere does it say America Only. More on this later.
So, what to do? As before, get with a financial advisor, CPA/tax preparer/other if you have them to plan what to do for short- and longer-term downturns. While professionals recommend having three months worth of normal bills in savings, few of us do. So, as quickly as you can, try to set aside 2-weeks to a month’s worth of bills both in savings and in cash. Why cash? It comes in handy in emergencies and gives you a buffer that you can hold on to or put back in your accounts later. Think on it a bit.
Third, look at what other supplies you get that may be dependent in whole or in part on China. Me, I keep a few months supply of razor blades on hand (esp. after dumping Gillette and the other expense brands), but I plan to up that to a full year. I have a several month stock of toilet tissue, but even though it’s not linked to China (as far as I know) I plan to add more (see the story on the great toilet paper robbery in Hong Kong). Thinking about a new phone? Might want to do it now. Oh, and as with toilet tissue, boost your stock of feminine hygiene products. Make sure you have plenty of normal hygiene items such as soap, shampoo, dish detergent, and especially laundry soap. If it gets bad, you are going to be wanting to wash clothes often as a precaution. Stock up on hand sanitizer while you can. Anything that can be used to clean and sterilize is probably a good thing to be sure you have on hand.
Fourth, I am increasing my normal food stocks. As much as freezer space and such allow, I’m cooking ahead as much as I can so that I have a variety of frozen meals ready to go. I’m building up canned and similar items, especially as I’m ketogenic and would like to stay that way even in a quarantine. Also, I believe in surviving with style, so am making sure I have as much good food put away as possible.
The strategic coffee reserve is in good shape, but I am going to expand it as I see that and the strategic tobacco reserve as investments on preserving the peace and the safety of others. Probably should lay in a bit more alcohol, but that’s low priority compared to coffee and basic food stuffs. While I don’t anticipate the loss of utilities, I am laying in a good stock of water just in case. Again, since we don’t understand all the vectors, contamination is a (remote at this time) possibility. The strategic hot sauce reserve is in good shape as well — amazing what you can eat with enough hot sauce on it.
No, not stocking in MREs and such, at least no more than I already have on hand. I’m working towards a months worth of meals, mostly frozen as I do expect there to be no major disruptions of power. That said, the quarantine may be 30 days based on what is being learned. I may add in some freeze-dried eggs or such, just because my normal supply of eggs might not last a month.
The last thing right now is getting a mask. Remember, the surgical masks don’t work. You need an N95 or equivalent. I’ve got some already on hand because they are useful for yard work, home projects, and during pollen season. If and as I can, I may lay in a few more but I think the other things above are far more important right now.
Use the interactive graphic to keep track of things. Is COVID19 an epidemic? Yes. Is it a Pandemic? Not Yet, but likely will be in the next 1-5 days. Is there need for panic? No. Should you be paying attention? Yes. Hell yes. Should you be preparing? Yes, better late than never.
Want to avoid catching COVID19 here in the U.S.? Wash your flippin hands frequently, wash them thoroughly every time you use the bathroom, then follow with hand sanitizer after every washing, use hand sanitizer liberally when you can’t wash on a regular basis. Cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze, and stay away from those who don’t. Also, keep your bugger hooks out of/away from your eyes, nose, and mouth. Do NOT shake hands with anyone, and avoid touching or being touched by strangers. Or your strange friends.
Avoid travel if at all possible. If you can telecommute, get that set up now. If you have to travel, use lots of hand sanitizer and go to full flu protocols. If you have to use a public restroom, take full precautions including using paper towels and such to handle faucets, doors,etc. Believe it or not, this was highly recommended before now, and major grocery chains have long told employees to use those practices to avoid getting or spreading colds, flu, etc. Not many actually do it, but…
If you own a business, make sure your employees know the above protocols. Have someone who refuses to wash their hands or otherwise follow the protocols? Talk to them, write them up, and if necessary fire them as they now pose a risk of infection to you and your customers. Extreme? Yes, but while the CDC and others are working to slow it down, odds are it is already here and could hit hard and fast. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
More soon. Lots more I hope, as there are many things I could not get to this morning. For one thing, I want to get back to this article on China by Rod Dreher. The locusts are weird but interesting; but, what really has me taking notice is what is happening within Chinese social media and who is involved. As I said yesterday, even last week I would have said such was impossible.
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