COVID19 24Feb20 Raising DEFCON

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.

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

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

COVID19 23FEB20

Working on a longer post, as there is a lot happening. In fact, some things just got very weird on top of unprecedented. The public reaction in China is something I would have considered impossible last week. More on that soon.

REPEATING: If you have not implemented the steps I discussed in this post, I strongly urge you to do so now. Use the interactive graphic to keep track of things. Is COVID19 an epidemic? Yes. Is it a Pandemic? Not Yet. Is there need for panic? No. Should you be paying attention? Yes. Hell yes.

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. In other words, standard flu protocols and fairly standard basic personal hygiene.

More soon.

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

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

COVID19 22Feb20

Not going to get into too much detail this morning, but do recommend keeping an eye on the region pictured.

REPEATING: If you have not implemented the steps I discussed in this post, I strongly urge you to do so now. Use the interactive graphic to keep track of things. Is COVID19 an epidemic? Yes. Is it a Pandemic? Not Yet. Is there need for panic? No. Should you be paying attention? Yes. Hell yes. Depending on how a couple of parameters go in the next few days, I am considering raising my personal DEFCON from Sit Up to Really?!? Much depends on what we see outside of China in that time. At this time, I still see the major impacts as economic.

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. In other words, standard flu protocols and fairly standard basic personal hygiene.

More soon.

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

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

COVID19 21Feb20: Just Look At The Blooms Dear

I had originally intended to do a starter post on the economic cascade effects that have started. However, I think we are entering a very interesting period where the data will tell us how things are going to go. To determine that, watch the blooms.

The bloom of infections is starting to drop in China, at least as far as we can tell. Again, don’t trust any official figures from the Chinese government as they lie, and have lied from the start. That drop, however, appears to be confirmed by at least some non-government sources in China.

They key to this bloom is that it will grow again once the draconian measures in place are eased. They will have to be eased for economic reasons if nothing else. Once they are, the bloom will grow. How large and how fast it grows, and how fast it stops growing, will tell us a lot.

The blooms are growing, however, in countries around China. This is not, repeat not, unexpected. What we are looking at now is how large and how fast those blooms grow, and if they can be contained to limited areas. If they can, good news. If not, bad news.

There are smaller blooms starting elsewhere, such as the U.S. However, keep in mind that a good part of that bloom are Citizens who have been repatriated from infectious areas, including those known to be infected. That there will be more, many more perhaps, is a given. The efforts so far are on slowing it down, not keeping it out altogether as that is impossible at this point. I do wish they had implemented travel restrictions and quarantines sooner. If wishes were horses…

My own estimate right now is that we could see some massive blooms in SE Asia, all the way down towards Australia and New Zealand. Australia is the one to watch, as it is the closest first world enclave to China. They have enacted a “proper” response based off of very modern public health and public hygiene systems.

If those systems have indeed provided an adequate response, the first place we will truly see it is in Australia. If not, again, the first place we will see it is in Australia. The lessons learned from Australia can be applied to either improve the existing plans and protocols, or to make changes with enough time to prevent a complete disaster. We hope.

Given that there appear to be a number of “superspreaders” with this virus; that it can be transmitted while asymptomatic; that it can be transmitted by multiple vectors; and that we really don’t have good data yet on transmission values (or death), well, much is in up in the air.

Add in that in multiple countries there were people who were allowed in who spread it asymptomatic, and that no effort to find everyone they came in contact with will be 100 percent effective… Those are the new blooms to pay close attention to. Again, if things continue to work well in the U.S. and other first world countries, we should be relatively okay. The slow-down of the spread buys time to develop vaccines, effective treatments, and even more effective protocols for containment.

While I am not raising my alert level yet, I am strongly recommending not traveling to anywhere in SE Asia other than Australia or New Zealand. This does include Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, etc. Have plans for the Olympics in Japan? Cancel and see if you can get refunds. Business absolutely requires working in/with those areas? Telecommute.

Oh, some quick thoughts on a couple of areas.

First, there is a large possibility that it may be more deadly in China because of the massive (and sometimes deadly) air pollution in major cities and/or regions; smoking habits on top of said air pollution; nutrition and basic health; and, public hygiene/sanitation. Again, time will tell.

Second, I really would love for someone to check the grey water systems on the Diamond Princess. Given the increasing number of reports that one mode of transmission is via fecal matter, I think tests on white, grey, and black systems could tell us a lot. Given the level of response over there, am not going to bet that such tests will be run.

Side note is that a number of the systems and such pushed by the so-called Green New Deal types could be almost tailor-made to encourage epidemics and/or pandemics. Again, good reason to check those recycling systems on the Diamond Princess. Sadly, these days I’m not as inclined to consider such “oops” as poor planning, but rather as intentional.

Third, there is some hope that better sanitation systems and practices can help contain the outbreak to some degree. The better the systems, and the more people follow good to excellent hygiene, the better.

Fourth, pray that it does not get a foothold in Africa, particularly south of the Sahara. If it does, it will have a second natural reservoir in which it can lie dormant, mutate, and/or otherwise come forth on a regular basis to plague the world.

If you have not implemented the steps I discussed in this post, I strongly urge you to do so now. Use the interactive graphic to keep track of things. Is COVID19 an epidemic? Yes. Is it a Pandemic? Not Yet. Is there need for panic? No. Should you be paying attention? Yes. Hell yes. Depending on how a couple of parameters go in the next few days, I am considering raising my personal DEFCON from Sit Up to Really?!? Much depends on what we see outside of China in that time. At this time, I still see the major impacts as economic.

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. In other words, standard flu protocols and fairly standard basic personal hygiene.

More soon.

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

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

COVID19 Update 20 Feb 20

There are a number of topics I want/need to cover, but time is a hard enemy to beat. There is containment, which has not worked as well as hoped. There is some serious weirdness with how this virus is spreading and who it hits, for example there are effectively zero (statistically speaking) cases in younger patients. The economic impact is going to be huge, far more than expected if things don’t change for the better and soon.

First up for today is an interesting take on the horror-show that was the quarantine on the Diamond Princess. I don’t think there is a single expert out there who doesn’t see it as a disaster. By rights, done right, it should have been a model for quarantine and containment. So, what went wrong?

According to this man, Iwata Kentaro, it was the bureaucrats. For what it is worth, he is an MD, Ph.D., with Kobe University’s Division of Infections Diseases Therapeutics — in other words, he is a specialist in things like this. Listen to what he has to say, look up his background, and make your own informed decision.

I will say right now that if you plan to travel to Japan for the Olympics this summer, I recommend against it. To be honest, I recommend against any travel to SE Asia at this time, and for the foreseeable future. Have to attend a meeting? Telecommute.

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention released new data (covered here by the Irish Times) which indicates that COVID19 is 20 times more deadly than seasonal flu. There are also some other oddities in there. However, keep in mind that this is still early data; and, moreover, it is data approved and issued by the Chinese government. The Chinese government has lied about COVID19 from the start, and apparently continues to do so even as they seek to censor their own people and others who expose those lies. Take it with a huge grain of salt.

Let me continue to note that it will be weeks, if not months, before there is sufficient accurate data to begin to understand COVID19 and what is going to happen. No matter what you read, any effective vaccine is probably at least a year away.

An interesting note while I’m thinking about it. There are a number of people crowing about bringing various types of manufacturing back to the U.S., including drug and medical supply production. Yes, it can be done. Personally, I hope it is done. However, re-tooling facilities of any type to do any new manufacturing means at least a year lag, as it will take that long to re-tool, reconfigure, and start producing products.

As for some of the industries being affected by COVID19 outside of China, see this update from Apple. There are more like this coming out in a variety of industries, feel free to share links to them in the comments if you like.

Oh, by the way, despite a degree and a goodly number of published stories (and even a couple of awards), WalMart says I’m not a real journalist. I contacted them in regards a shortage in rubbing alcohol that has been noticed. I asked if this was related to the situation with China. Deafening silence. No idea if it is or not, since they won’t talk to a mere online journalist/blogger/whatever.

If you have not implemented the steps I discussed in this post, I strongly urge you to do so now. Use the interactive graphic to keep track of things. Is COVID19 an epidemic? Yes. Is it a Pandemic? Not Yet. Is there need for panic? No. Should you be paying attention? Yes. Hell yes. Depending on how a couple of parameters go in the next few days, I am considering raising my personal DEFCON from Sit Up to Really?!? Much depends on what we see outside of China in that time. At this time, I still see the major impacts as economic.

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.

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

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

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

Update & Quick Thoughts On Preparation

First, while keeping in mind that both WHO, the CDC, and other agencies are political agencies first and foremost, here is an interesting interview (with some truly great weasel-wording) about the virus. There is a lot of good info in here, even with having to do some reading between the lines.

Second, I do believe in preparation. Unless something changes rather dramatically, I expect the major impact will be economic rather than in terms of public health. Longer post needed on that, but here is an article that lays out some of what has been discussed here before about the folly that was our former China policy — an idiocy that gave them control over several critical resources.

It’s not just medical and medicines, it’s automotive parts, it’s about the precursor components for a host of other products, it’s the things we often take for granted until they are gone. Ladies, do you know where your feminine hygiene products come from, or the components for them? Men, do you know where your razors come from? In both cases, some do and some don’t.

If you are going to prepare for this to hit the U.S., the first thing I would do is talk to my financial advisor on planning for both short- and long-term hits to the economy. Right now, I don’t think anyone has truly gamed out the cascade effect that is about to hit. It may be short and not bad (for us), or it could be worse and longer. For other countries, it won’t be recession but depression.

Second thing I would do is make sure I have as deep a supply of medicines, supplements, and basic supplies as I can. Check with your pharmacist: which of your medicines (if not all) are dependent on China in whole or in part? Get 90-day supplies if you can, and encourage your pharmacy to keep them in stock ahead of demand. It’s what I did a few weeks ago, now working on stocking up on OTCs and supplements.

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.

Fourth, I have increased my ready food reserve. Since what I’m adding are things I already use, I can add it into regular use if not needed or things reach expiration date. The strategic coffee and hot sauce reserves are being upped a bit, and I’m slowly making sure I have water, the capability to store additional water, and other basics beyond my normal 3-5 day reserve.

Finally, and it is a finally, I have masks. I’ve always had some around given my allergies, and I use them for yard work, woodworking, metalworking, and other projects. Masks are currently my lowest priority here in the U.S. I have some (at lest one pack put up in a very good safe place, call if you know where it is) and while I may add a few more, the items above are a higher priority than the masks. Again, as I’ve stated before, I recommend the R95 masks as they have far more day-to-day utility and emergency use than just the N95.

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.

More later, I hope. Going to be a long day at work. Be safe, Be prepared, and keep an eye out.

Also, hat tip to Instapundit for the two articles linked.

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

Expansions On A Theme, A Mental Exercise In The Hypothetical

In the post that went up earlier today, I added an update that briefly explored the idea that the virus was indeed a bioweapon. That is something that deserves a fuller treatment than was possible this morning.

I’ve argued that the R value and the death rate are too low for a WMD bioweapon. That is based off severely incomplete (and false) information from the Chinese government plus what little has been observed in patients outside of China. There appears to be a trend towards COVID19 having a R3 level, but again the data is incomplete and it will still be several weeks before we can develop better data.

But, there are two cases where the spread rate and death rate could actually be the sign of a bioweapon. But first, some background.

A couple of decades ago, there was an effort to develop a series of weapons that could be used to temporarily disable enemy troops rather than kill them. This non-lethal force initiative had some very good ideas and looked at a number of systems that could disrupt, disorient, and disable both humans and mechanical devices. This led to a some serious thought, and some re-adjustment in terms of how a number of parties came to view weapons/systems development. NOTE: I am not saying anything now comes from this, but that knowledge of the effort is a necessary link in the chain.

If memory serves (and it may not) there were also some other programs by various parties to develop weapons that were not necessarily world-enders or otherwise function as weapons of mass destruction. Rather, they were designed to incapacitate an enemy without totally destroying them.

The key point here is that there was some serious examination of finding weapons that would either not kill at all or not kill everyone, but would make it impossible for an enemy to fight/resist. It was and is a radical change of mindset from Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) and the idea of wiping entire populations off the planet.

For a MAD bioweapon, you would be looking at something highly contagious and with as high a death-rate as possible. You would also want it to be something your own side (and friends) could be vaccinated against. Also, in a perfect world, you would want it to spread easily and fast before symptoms appeared.

Typical development would start with something promising, work through a number of stages where it is “improved” over time, then result in the production of a final product. The number of intermediate stages would vary based on technology, refinements, and success/failure in testing.

Now, with a change in mindset from wiping everyone out to more controlled damage, it raises a possibility. And, yes, the U.S. has said any chemical or biological attack is the use of a WMD and would be treated as such. Yet, under the previous administration, there were reports of chemical and biological attacks by Syria against rebels (and others) that were not dealt with as promised. That was noted by many parties.

Now, there are two possibilities for a bioweapon that is either not very transmissible or potentially as transmissible as the flu and has a solid but not huge death rate. One comes from efforts to develop a WMD weapon, the other from a more targeted economic attack.

The first is that what we see spreading is an intermediate-stage WMD bioweapon that was accidentally released. Being intermediate-stage it does not have the transmission rate or death rate that an end-product weapon would have. It could even be a fizzle: a project that looked promising but didn’t deliver what the developers wanted to get.

The second is that what we have is the accidental release of a bioweapon being developed for targeted economic attack. The weapon itself has a spread rate and a death rate that require it to be taken seriously by public health officials and other government agencies where released. It can’t just be ridden out like the flu, but takes quarantines, active treatment, isolation, and suspension of normal work and related activities. It would be devastating to a national economy and tie up quite a bit of total national resources (food, medicine, etc.). In short, pretty much what we are seeing happen in China right now.

In both cases, the accidental release means there are no vaccines yet developed for the weapon. Which means the disease has run rampant since there was considerable delay in effective reaction to the virus.

Again, this is simply a mental exercise. Does it tie in with some of the evidence? Yes. But, there are a number of areas where it does not/may not match. The two big labs in Wuhan both have a history of protocol problems/breaches. So, the theories are not improbable; but, that does not mean they are yet probable based on current data.

They are, in my opinion, mental exercises that should be held up to the data along with other theories to see what pans out.

I also want to thank Alberto De La Cruz of the excellent Babalu Blog for letting me bounce some things off him today. His comments were most helpful, as always.

Now, a challenge to the reader: shoot holes in these mental exercises. Or, if you prefer, show where they correlate to actual data.

For now, I remain neutral on if COVID19 is man-made. While there are two scientific papers claiming to show that it is, there is no peer-review and frankly the peers that understand things on the levels being discussed seem to be divided on the issue. Until more is known, there simply is insufficient data for me to make a useful and informed decision about it.

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

Well Maybe I Was Wrong

Some Quick Thoughts On Coronavirus 2019-nCoV

Why Should You Be Prepared?

Keeping Alert

Coronavirus And Practical Preparedness

Well, Maybe I Was Wrong

Edited to add an interesting possibility at the end

It’s early yet, but in last Friday’s post on 2019-nCoV/COVID-19 I had my doubts about the virus coming from either the BSL-4 National Bio-Safety Laboratory or the Wuhan Institute of Virology. As I noted then, I remain agnostic on the first paper suggesting that it was engineered and still feel that the response would have been different had it been a leak of a bioweapon.

That said, there is a new scientific study and additional analysis that would appear to support both the original paper and the theory that the virus is bioengineered. Is it proof positive? No, not even close. It is additional data, and until other studies take place — and the White House has directed that research into the origin be a priority — we simply have some more data.

I maintain that if it were a bioweapon, it was not an end-stage product. We would be seeing many more dead and a higher infection rate if it were an end-stage product. That said, there is reason to believe it is more infectious than previously reported and good reason to believe that the death toll is much higher than the Chinese government has admitted.

Inside China, by all reports, the situation remains very bad. Outside China, provided it does not spread into Africa (where it could form a natural reservoir as has happened in China), there will be more cases but if quarantine and proper procedures are followed, it will remain an epidemic but not become a pandemic. I will caveat that by saying that this is based on what we know at this time, and given how little we truly know about it so far there is room for error.

Outside of China, the largest impacts will be economic and non-virus medical. Again, keep in mind that China provides quite a bit of the medicines in the world, as well as a large amount of the precursor materials for medicines, vitamins, etc. They also provide a great deal of disposable medical equipment, including masks.

So, where do we stand this morning? Per the interactive graphic we have the following:

Epidemic: Yes

Pandemic: No

Total cases as of 0545 Eastern: 71,810

Total cases in mainland China: 70,553

Total Deaths: 1775

Total Recoveries: 11,258

Alert Status: Sit Up

Best way for personal prevention outside of China? 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, keep your bugger hooks out of your eyes and nose. In other words, standard flu protocols.

Hat Tips to Rod Dreher and Instapundit/Ed Driscoll.

UPDATE 1: It occurred to me a few minutes ago that the belief that this is not a bioweapon because both the R value and death rate are too low could be very sadly mistaken. About 20 years ago, there was a lot of work on forms of non-lethal/non-world-ending weapons. And, yes, there has been a lot of speculation and probably even efforts over the years to develop chemical and/or biological weapons that would incapacitate a population for a period of time. During that period, of course, actions could be taken such as invasion, disarming, etc.

Suppose that COVID19/COVID-19/2019-nCoV was not intended as a weapon of mass destruction, but as an economic weapon? Release it into a target area and the spread as well as the deaths would have a severe economic impact (for China, it may well be crippling) but not totally destroy the target population. In that case, the R3 that seems to be emerging makes more sense from a weapons perspective. Purely food for thought, and to keep in mind as we start to get real and accurate data on the disease.

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