COVID-19 7Mar20 How To Do It Right If You Think You Have/Have Been Exposed To COVID-19

We now have our first confirmed case of COVID-19 here in Indiana. It is a case study in how to do things right if you think you have, or have been exposed to, COVID-19.

The basic story is here. Whatever I may think of the person for having gone to an event at this time, they did things right in a way that should become the text book example of what to do if you have/have been exposed to COVID-19.

Note that they contacted the state health department as soon as they suspected. Working with them, they went to a hospital and parked away from everyone else. They contacted the hospital by phone, who had already been contacted by the state. This allowed them to have those responding take all appropriate precautions. They then took the person in via an entrance not normally used by the public, after putting them in clothing/gear to prevent spread. They was taken to an area of negative pressure for testing. Given that the case is mild at this time, they was taken out the same way and put in quarantine at home.

All of this allowed for: protection of the medical team/first responders involved; it allowed easy decontamination of the areas where this person went; it ensured that the chance of spread to anyone — especially other patients — was minimized.

Note that they did not go to a doc-in-the-box; they did not go to the ER directly; and, they minimized exposure to the public. This is how you do it.

Doing my normal bi-weekly shopping yesterday, I saw panic. People were wearing masks, which is in many respects idiotic. The one person I saw doing it right was from our SE Asian population and they were wearing a mask because they clearly were ill. I steered well clear of them. The others, well, not so much and not so well. Good luck finding disinfectants, hand sanitizer, etc. If you waited until now to begin preparing, well, sucks to be you. Failure to prepare is preparing to fail.

Again, wearing a mask if you are sick is a good idea. If not, you are mostly asking to be sick as few know how to put them on, how to wear them, and — most importantly — how to take them off without increasing your risk of infection. Masks, gloves, and other precautions require you to treat them as hazmat, not just throw them in the trash.

Again (and again) the best way to protect yourself here in the U.S. is to stay away from anyone obviously ill, and to wash your hands well and frequently, particularly after using the bathroom. In between washings, use hand sanitizer on a regular basis. Keep your booger hooks away from your face as much as possible. Don’t shake hands. For me, I like the idea of using the Vulcan salute instead.

Given that most people, especially those falling for politico-media fear mongering, have less sense than God gave a cherrystone clam, I would avoid crowds and as much as possible and avoid medical triage areas such as doc-in-the-boxes and ERs. Most people are not, unless educated by posts such as this one and actual medical statements, are going to flock to such places en masse which will increase the rate of exposure and the rate of infection.

If you think you have been exposed, or that you have COVID-19, do like this person. Call your state or local health agency and work with them so as to minimize the chance of exposing anyone, especially medical or other first responders.

Per my previous posts, if you are a first responder of any type, go to the highest level of precaution your department will allow — especially if responding to a report of someone ill. We can’t afford to have a dozen or more first responders quarantined for each incident as happened in Washington state (see previous posts).

With luck, planning, and people taking sensible precautions, the spread of COVID-19 can continue to be slowed until the weather gets better. There is a reason winter is worse for the flu, and the longer we can put off major spread the better. Also, keep in mind that the majority of cases are going to be mild, in keeping with a flu epidemic (which we have every year). There are a number of reasons it will not be as nasty and deadly here as in China (again, see previous posts). Panic will not help, and in fact will hurt. If you are older (60+) and have underlying health conditions, go to full, stringent, flu precautions as you are the most likely to have real problems with COVID-19. Right now, based on data from here in the U.S., 70+ with underlying health conditions is where we have the highest mortality.

It will be at least another 4- to 6-weeks before we have good data on COVID-19 here in the U.S. Data from China, Iran, etc., is both highly suspect (hint, the Chinese government and other governments have and are lying) and not directly applicable. Don’t panic.

Best thing you can do, other than washing your hands frequently, is to prepare for a possible quarantine. Make sure you have food, medicines, and other supplies to stay at home without leaving for at lest two weeks. This includes financial preparations where possible. Stock up prudently, in that what you buy should be what you normally would eat, drink, need. That way, if not needed, you simply fold it into your normal operations and move on while saving some money on food and such on the far end.

This is NOT Capt. Tripps, and while it will be a pain in the end, it is not something over which to panic. Unless you are in that specific demographic for it to be bad or fatal, you will get by. The major impact will be economic, though I suspect/hope it will change how we do business on several levels. We’ve slowly been trending towards remote work, and I expect that to become more the norm. I won’t object if handshaking becomes a thing of the past. For those smart and fast, there are some potentially fantastic business opportunities as we rightly move away from single-point failures in the supply chain.

Again, and again, and again: it is not a cause for panic. Be smart, be informed, and take media/politico reports with a tun of salt. Instead of a tun, maybe even a ton or two of salt.

As always:

Use the interactive graphic to keep track of things. Is COVID19 an epidemic? Yes. Is it a Pandemic? Not according to WHO, but most everyone else is saying yes, it is. 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. Right now, there is no way I’m going to a trade show, major convention, etc. 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.

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.

Other COVID19/COVID-19/2019-nCoV articles:

COVID-19 6Mar20

COVID-19 5Mar20

COVID-19 4Mar20

COVID-19 3Mar20

COVID-19 What Am I Doing?

COVID-19 2Mar20

COVID-19 1Mar20

COVID-19 29Feb20

Quick Additional Thoughts On The Bureaucracy

Panic Is Off And Running

COVID-19 28Feb20 Reasons To Hope, Reasons To Fear

COVID-19 A Plea To The Politicians (And Media)

COVID-19 27Feb20

COVID-19 Breaking A Chain?

COVID-19 26Feb20

COVID19 The Situation In China Gets Even Weirder

COVID19 25Feb20

COVID19 24Feb20 Raising DEFCON

COVID19 23Feb20

COVID19 22Feb20

COVID19 21Feb20: Just Look At The Blooms Dear

COVID19 Update 20Feb20

COVID19 Update

Update & Quick Thoughts On Preparedness

Expansion On A Theme

Well Maybe I Was Wrong

Some Quick Thoughts On Coronavirus 2019-nCoV

Why Should You Be Prepared?

Keeping Alert

Coronavirus And Practical Preparedness

COVID-19 What Am I Doing?

It’s a fair question. What am I doing? Am I following the guidelines I’m giving you?

Short answer is yes, I am following those guidelines for the most part. Some minor tweeks for my particular circumstances, but yes.

First up, I travel for work on a daily basis. Some is in state, other involves out-of-state travel. No, I’m not wearing a mask or suit. Sadly, telecommuting is not an option. Also, no work no pay, so…

What I am doing is what I recommend. I wash my hands as often as I can, particularly if I’ve had to handle things touched by others, used the bathroom (every time! everyone should), or had contact with others. I’ve stopped shaking hands, citing the flu season. I also have two travel-sized bottles of hand sanitizer that I use frequently since they can be refilled from larger containers, and use it frequently. I avoid getting near anyone that appears sick. I am washing my coat, vest, other winter gear at least once a week and may step up to twice a week. I have rinsed my toothbrush in alcohol for years, and am cleaning as I can.

You never will get things perfectly sterile. It’s not about killing every last flu/other bug: it’s about killing enough of them that enough of them to make you sick make it into your system. Some get in, but not enough. It’s breaking the chain of the infection by keeping the numbers low.

I’m doing what I can on the financial front. On the food and water front, I have increased my normal reserves of water, coffee, and food. I believe strongly in survival with style, so am working to cook and freeze as many tasty complete meals as circumstances allow. I’m stocking in some not-quite-as-tasty things (canned meats/meals) as well, since freezer space is limited. Upping the coffee, spice, and booze reserves as I can as well. I also need to do more on the tobacco front, but food (obviously) comes first (followed by coffee).

Yes, I may buy a half-face respirator again soon. Not so much for this, but because the one I bought about 15 years ago for wood/metal/not-nice-materials projects is no longer supported. As in you can’t get new cartridges anywhere. Annoying, but it did have a good run. Grumble. There are a few projects I might like to do if I have to be home that would need one.

Yes, I do have a few R95 (and a well put up pack of N95) masks around. Again, projects and yard work. the R95 is a good one to keep around for projects, yard work, allergies, and potential emergency use. I do recommend them over the N95. If I absolutely need them, I do have them but don’t anticipate using them at this time.

That’s the short and sweet of it for now. We will see if it is enough.

Panic Is Off And Running

As I noted on MeWe yesterday, the panic is off and running. I stopped by my local Lowe’s yesterday, and was unsurprised on many levels to find out that a small number of people had come in and stripped them of very N95 and R95 mask in stock. I was a bit surprised that they still had respirators left.

Yes, I have a mask or two. But, as I’ve noted before, more masks are the lowest item on my preparations list. For most of us, they don’t make much sense at this time.

If you want to minimize your risk of getting COVID-19, use strong flu protocols. The biggest thing is to wash your hands frequently, follow with sanitizer; and, sanitize your hands on a regular basis between washings. If you use the bathroom, WASH YOUR FLIPPIN HANDS! Good hygiene and strong flu protocols are, for now, the best bet.

COVID19 Update

There has been a massive jump in cases and deaths, pretty much all from/in China on the quick look.

There have been several previous reports that COVID19 spreads before symptoms appear (asymptomatic), but this NEJM article would seem to confirm that. Such a confirmation will change both how it is handled and the models on spread. It may also mean that efforts to contain it outside China may be in severe trouble.

Efforts to develop an effective vaccine continue, but are most likely a year away. That said, the U.S. government is providing direct funding to both vaccine and treatment development.

In light of this previous post, I do find it interesting that Xi had far earlier awareness of the situation than previously reported. This, along with asymptomatic transmission, are two things I would have expected were it some form of bioweapon that got out. Again, that is not saying it is: in fact, I still remain somewhere between neutral and no-it’s-not camps. But, these are two interesting data points. As is the Chinese Ambassador’s comments on the speculation by Sen. Tom Cotton. Note that he does not deny, but pivots to a different point. Again, an interesting data point.

There is more to discuss, including the apparent failure of many quarantines in China and with the cruise ship. In regards the ship, as noted in the linked article yesterday, something went very wrong.

Meantime, per the interactive graphic, it is still an epidemic and not a pandemic. Should you panic? No. Should you be paying attention and making preparations as discussed yesterday? Yes. Hell yes. Do I still expect the major hits to be economic? Yes, based on what we know right now.

Want to avoid catching COVID19 here in the U.S.? Wash your flippin hands frequently, then follow with hand sanitizer, use hand sanitizer liberally when you can’t wash. 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. In other words, standard flu protocols.

And while I’m thinking about it, there are two books I highly recommend for those interested in preparedness. Neither applies directly to this situation, but both capture the right mindset almost perfectly. The first is Alas Babylon, and for it’s age the lessons in it remain timeless. The second is Pulling Through by Dean Ing. Dean has written extensively on preparedness and survival, and I highly commend his works to you. And, yes, I am an Amazon Affiliate, see the disclaimers as you cheap jerks have yet to buy enough through my links for me to get paid.

Also, if you would like some good bio background as well as a fun read, allow me to recommend Under A Graveyard Sky by John Ringo. It looks at an engineered bioweapon that does a number on humanity. I’ve not been into the whole zombie thing (at least on a literary front), but as with almost all of John’s work, the series has been a fantastic read and well worth re-reading. Let’s hope we never live a Ringo novel of any type, especially this one or The Last Centurion.

Other COVID19/COVID-19/2019-nCoV articles:

Update & Quick Thoughts On Preparedness

Expansion On A Theme

Well Maybe I Was Wrong

Some Quick Thoughts On Coronavirus 2019-nCoV

Why Should You Be Prepared?

Keeping Alert

Coronavirus And Practical Preparedness

A Preparedness Day

I may or may not be able to get the planned post up, thanks to some very uncertain weather. Depending on which forecast or model one goes to, we could see snow, sleet, freezing rain, or hamsters. Well, maybe not the latter but it is going to be a bad day to be out driving. No choice, so out I go.

But, I am prepared. Earlier this morning, I went out and salted our driveway. This was done using a small spreader that is used for a rotating variety of tasks throughout the year. I’m about to go check it again in a few minutes. No real ice buildup, so far, but why take chances and if we do end up getting almost an inch of snow, the ice melt will also help deal with it — which reduces how much shoveling or plowing I get to do.

My vehicle has not only de-ice fluid in the wiper washer, I also have a small hand-held pressure sprayer filled with the same stuff. One, wiper-washers can get iffy when very cold and ice is involved. Two, I can use it on any and all windows, to help cut down on the scraping and the time I’m out in the cold and whatever is falling.

Finally, my vehicle has good tires, antifreeze, oil, and other basic maintenance done. It also has tools and things I could need should I get stuck so that I can — on my own or with help — get myself unstuck. If I can’t? Well, there’s preparations for that as well.

More in a bit, I hope. Oh, and yes, I am an Amazon Affiliate and if you click the links and buy something, I may (one day) earn enough to actually get some money that way.