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

Coronavirus Update

Again, I have to start by saying there is no need to panic (yet) if you are in the United States. Running around in a mask and/or exposure suits is not helpful or smart, nor is making a “joke” and saying you have it: both types of things just point out that you are a dumbass.

Is there reason to worry? Yes. Now that even the WHO is reported as saying that there are likely more than 100,000 cases (mostly in China), it provides some validation to this study, this study, and this study.

As I’ve said before, the Chinese government has lied from the start about the disease and how bad it is. Read this article about what is coming out of China, and this article by Rod Dreher. The last also brings up two things that you do need to know about, along with some heartbreaking information from inside China.

The first is that the medical gear/drug shortage in China is not just a Chinese problem. It is also a problem here, in that there are already shortages here. It is going to get worse before it gets better. A number of people have argued for some time that it was not a good idea to become so heavily dependent on China for medicines and medical gear [not to mention electronics (including efforts to make us dependent upon them for military electronics) along with other finished products and raw goods]. Using regulation and other tactics to push things overseas was seen as a positive foreign policy in regards China and trying to control it. I would call it what I think of that policy, but am trying to some degree to keep this PG-13. Is this all going to have an impact on the US, Chinese, and global economies? Yep.

The second thing was a twitter link that Rod added to the article. I pulled up the source site for the graphic, and found it interesting to look at China and compare it to the interactive graphic from Johns Hopkins I’ve been linking to on a regular basis. I’m still playing with the data a bit, but I do find the correlation between high sulfur dioxide levels coming out of the cities with known high contagion rates interesting. Yes, it does appear to suggest that crematoriums are working overtime. And possibly in areas where there are no official cases…

If the models are correct, and if even the current official reports from China are correct, it appears that 2019-nCoV is more contagious than originally thought (hoped). The death rate, based on official figures, is approaching five percent however. If the unofficial reports coming out of China are correct, it is potentially much higher.

I wish the travel restrictions had been implemented much sooner. Then, you might not be reading about new cases in England and elsewhere, and the efforts to locate and test everyone those tourists contacted/interacted with during their trip. If the current restrictions and quarantines had been implemented even a week sooner, it would have taken thousands of potential transmission opportunities off the board. This article from Scientific American looks at some possibilities that are not good.

For all that I trust the WHO about as much as I do the Chinese government, they have daily situation updates that are a resource as you monitor what is going on.

So, should you panic? No. Should you be concerned? Yes. What is going on worries me, which on my personal defcon levels is a step above concerned. What am I doing? I’m watching, reading, and researching. Yes, I have started beefing up some of my normal levels of preparedness. If nothing happens, what I’ve gotten will get eaten, used, etc. in the normal course of life. More on preparedness later.

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

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.

Be Prepared

Two simple words. Yet, words that can and have had tremendous impact on myself and others. I came to embrace them as a Boy Scout, and have found over the years that preparedness always, always pays.

The media likes to portray all who prepare as poorly educated nuts preparing to fight off the government. Yes, there are nuts just like that, but most who prepare are simply being prudent. Keep in mind that almost every household has at least some, occasionally small, start at preparedness.

We keep bandaids just in case. Preparedness. We have batteries for toys and more serious things. Preparedness. Some of us have multiple lighters, and even matches, in case we need to light a cigar or a candle. Preparedness. Most households have cans of food in the pantry and things to eat in the refrigerator that can feed us for several days. Preparedness.

The degree of preparedness taken is up to the individual. Given where I live, I tend to keep 3-5 days of food, water, medicines, and basic supplies simply because we get ice, snow, tornadoes and damaging winds, and even the occasional (small, thankfully) earthquake over the course of a year. In short, there are things that can happen that could trap me in my home for a day or three. If so, I have what I need to survive in style.

If there is something else happening — civil unrest, terrorist attack, epidemic, major earthquake — I have the means to quickly up my level of preparedness. I can and will fill emergency containers with water while it lasts. I have several tanks of propane for the grill (actually my landlord’s grill), burner (closest I can find to what I have), and smoker, and they provide one means of cooking food at need. Another is a portable chef’s stove (note: link similar to mine) I’ve used for years at events, for which I keep a reserve of butane.

And, yes, I am an Amazon Affiliate and if you use those links and buy something I may one day finally earn enough to get paid.

Note something with the above. These are all things that I use on a regular basis. They are things many people have. Preparedness isn’t about getting things you never use except in an emergency, at it’s core it’s about making the most of what you already have or are likely to get to improve your life. Yes, there are some things that you may not use except in an emergency, but most have everyday uses.

A good example, and an good example of preparedness paying comes from collapsable water containers. This one is great for camping or backpacking; this one for camping; this one is very good for emergencies (and this one is double the use) but may have other uses. Don’t backpack or camp? Keep one in the car.

Why keep one in the car? A number of years ago, some people I knew had a hose rupture on their car as they were on a remote section of interstate. Using materials they had on hand for an emergency, they fashioned a patch for the hose that would hold until they could reach an exit where they could replace the hose. They then took a collapsable water container down to a nearby creek and filled it up. With that, they refilled the radiator so that they could drive the car. The state trooper who stopped to check on them just as they were finishing up was shocked and pleased with what they had done.

Note also that they avoided being stranded for hours or longer, avoided a major towing bill, avoided having to be towed to a mechanic they did not know and had no choice about, and avoided their car being further damaged by unsafe operation. They were, for about $20 worth of preparation, able to safely drive to a location where they could safely obtain a new hose and put it on/have it put on with only relatively minor inconvenience.

Does the fact that there is an almost infinite list of disasters keep you from preparing? If so, take heart. While the list of potential disasters is indeed almost infinite, the list of types of damage boils down to a total of three: People, Places, Things.

In the days ahead, we are going to explore these topics. My goal is to introduce you to practical preparedness and help you disaster-proof your life as much as possible.

Why Should You Be Prepared?

Because your government is not in many cases. In fact, depending on where you live, to call what passes for disaster preparedness as preparedness is on par with calling prostitution virginity.

Here is a report (and more) on global health security that you really should read, or at least skim. While the US rates high, my own opinion is that there is still room for improvement on this topic and on many others.

As before, here is a page at Johns Hopkins that includes a very good interactive graphic that allows you to display current data on 2019-nCoV.

More soon.

Coronavirus And Practical Preparedness

I had originally planned to write about the bigotry of Stephen King and some other authors along with a miserable trope in USA channel movies, but that will have to be later this week. Instead, I need to cover a more important subject.

There is a lot being written about the coronavirus that is raging across China, and headed world-wide. A coronavirus is any of a family of single-stranded RNA viruses that has a lipid envelope with club-shaped projections. Some of the family don’t really have a negative affect on humans; but, some strains do. While a suspect for some cases of gastroenteritis, the ones that do effect humans do so through the respiratory system. The common cold is a coronavirus.

Unfortunately, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) are both of the coronavirus family. The strain currently spreading from Wuhan (2019-nCoV) is a new strain and is similar to SARS.

It can infect human lungs as easily as the common cold, it can be passed person-to-person (patient to caregiver is confirmed), and while England has issued some strong precautions, at least one of the cases in the US is being treated by telemedicine as much as possible.

Also understand that the Chinese government has lied about this disease from the start, and there is no reason for them to stop. They are severely censoring information as fast and as hard as they can. They are taking the virus seriously, but the question is will their efforts be effective. As a bit of background (hope to add more later), when the Chinese government was admitting to 50 cases, outside experts pegged it at 1,700. That was on the 18th, and there are reports suggesting that while there are roughly 3,000 confirmed cases, that the actual infection rate is in excess of 90,000 people.

Is there cause to panic? No. Is there cause to be concerned? Yes. A good resource for keeping up with the current outbreak is here.

What can and should you do? Well, I think having 3-7 days of food and water is a good start for anything. I try to keep that and a bit more (so I have a month’s supply of coffee, don’t judge my addictions) on hand at all times. For other reasons, I’ve been upping some of my preparations. If you don’t have a 3-7 day supply of food, water, medicines, supplements, and basic supplies, it is good to get and maintain them for general preparedness purposes.

If this does turn into a true global pandemic similar to the 1918 Spanish Flu (or worse), then you are talking a different level of preparedness. For that you will need 4-6 weeks worth of water, food, and supplies.

I will discuss practical preparedness, as well as preparedness for a pandemic more in the days ahead.