A Quick, Rambling Warning & Some Thoughts About Current Health Scares

Don’t believe the media hype.
We need to worry about Coronavirus, but we should not panic.

The numbers are necessarily going to skyrocket over the next few weeks. We are actually testing people, now that we both have effective tests and have those tests in mass quantities.

As more people get tested, and the numbers skyrocket, we will begin to get a more clear picture of what we are actually dealing with.

The death *toll* will rise, but the death *rate* will almost certainly drop – potentially by an huge degree.

There is no possibility of containing the virus, it’s out. But there is a chance to slow it down – and every extra week we buy, the better off we are – it puts us closer to the possibility of vaccine. There are mixed reports of how long that will take. There is an Israeli company which has actively been working on a vaccine for a sister-virus to this one, and may be months away from a human-ready vaccine; at the same time, there is still no vaccine for the sars virus from… 2003?
Moreover, viruses like this one are seasonal. We don’t know if this one is, but we hope it is. If it’s seasonal, the spring will see huge drops in its developing rates. That’s huge. We’ll see the outbreak continue in the fall, but every month of relief puts us closer to a vaccine.

Okay… so who’s at risk? Well… probably everyone will eventually get this. It’s likely to become part of our annual flu rotation.

But no one, outside of China (and there it’s like… 1?) under the age of 9 has died. Almost no one under the age of 18 has died. There’s no evidence, which I have seen, which suggests that pregnant women are at any particular risk. Most people under 60 are at no significant risk. Those who have respiratory weakness or immunodeficiencies are. Over 60, risk increases rapidly, with the average fatality being around 80 (if I understand it correctly).

It has been reported that the cdc advises people over 60 to hunker down and isolate themselves inside their houses. That’s not true. The cdc has advised people over 60 to prepare to be able to hunker down; it has advised people over 60 to avoid contact with others *as much as possible*, ***if*** there is a local outbreak; which has the specific definition of being “a sudden or violent increase in activity,” not simply the report of some people in a community having the virus.

What can we expect? Well… that’s impossible to predict, but
It appears China, who’s outbreak is about 2 months ahead of ours, has met their peak; they are beginning to return to work, and beginning to return their lives to normal.
Italy, who’s outbreak is about a month ahead of ours, is in complete disarray – *complete* disarray. They don’t seem to have hit their peak, but there are such legitimate problems there, it is hard to imagine that they aren’t close to their peak.

We need to remember that Italy has a much more densely concentrated population than many parts of the United States; whether that makes a difference is not determined. Much of the rest of Europe is similarly timed with our outbreaks, give or take a couple of weeks. Our initial travel bans to/from Asia seem to have bought us a couple of weeks, at least. The rest of Europe, then, may be an effective guide rod for what we can expect.

What can we do? Obviously, we need to be doing basic preventative measures: wash your hands. Socially distance yourself (don’t stand up close to people; don’t shake hands; etc). Stop stockpiling toilet paper… seriously, what’s up with that? This isn’t a digestive virus.

There are, in my view, contradictory reports from the cdc concerning masks. “They don’t work, anyway…” Which is why “we need to save them for the medical community.” That mixed communication, in my view, is causing people to freak out and stockpile masks. People aren’t stupid. If they work for the medical community, then they obviously work… right?

Well… yes… and no. The masks work (n95 and above) to filter the
Virus… until they get damp… which happens when your wear a mask outside all day. They work until you touch your face… which you do constantly. They work until you touch a contaminated surface… which you have little control over. But perhaps most importantly, they work to prevent a carrier of bacteria and virus from spreading those to at-risk people with whom they have close contact. The average person shouldn’t be in close contact with at-risk people… like… seriously – get out of granny’ face. Your doctor/nurse, however? Constantly in close contact with those who are precisely at the greatest risk. The masks may help these medical professionals from getting the virus, but they certainly help them reduce their cross contamination of it. That’s why we need to not stockpile masks. Do they help? Yes… in very controlled circumstances. They don’t really help the average Joe.

Finally, I hope I’m wrong, but I think it’s going to get a lot worse, and very fast. Have at least 2 weeks worth of food and water in your house. In the event that there is a forced quarantine (see Italy), it shouldn’t be longer than that. That doesn’t mean *hoard*. It means you should draw out a menu and get the ingredients which you can store. Bottled water is good… but not what you need. You need 1 gallon of water per person (and pet) per day for two weeks. There’s no reason to believe that your water will be shut off, however, so there’s no need to panic on this front; still, if one is taking this as a reason to finally get ones food storage in place, that’s the standard – 14 gallons for each person and per in the house… and bottled water just doesn’t cut it.

Finally, I’ve been thinking about organizing groups of non-medical, not at-risk individuals, who can prepare to do the dirty work in the event of an Italy-style shut down: people who can go to the hospitals and collect the garbage, for example; another group who can be prepared to make meals for medical staff, who may be unable to go home (as is the case in most of Italy) – because of contamination risk, this group would ideally be people who are trained in food handling, and ideally it would be done in an industrial kitchen; perhaps a group could utilize industrial laundry services to collect and wash bedding/clothing/etc from the hospitals – both from patients *and* medical personnel who may not have a chance to do it for themselves; another group may be those who are trained or prepared to be trained, in cadaver response… from some reports I’ve read, Italy has need for this kind of response… but doesn’t have it. Yeah, that’s kind of a morbid thought, but I don’t think it’s ever a bad idea to consider the “worst case scenario,” though considering it, we shouldn’t necessarily *expect* it.

the idea, bouncing in my head, is basically a loosely organized medical militia… kind of a silly idea… but having heard some of the worst of the reports from Italy, it got me thinking of how many people are capable of helping, and willing to do it… but probably have no clue how, and are now waiting for an overwhelmed and under-prepared government to take the reins and tell them how they can help. Those few days of delay, in an emergency shtf scenario are deadly. I don’t know how one night go about organizing…. but maybe it wouldn’t hurt to talk briefly with your like-minded buddies and consider, if the worst happened, how you could contribute to solutions.

Again, there is a difference between preparing for the worst, and planning on it; there is a difference between being worried and being panicked; there is a difference for having food storage and hoarding… and each individual needs to use their judgment.

I worry that there are ‘news’ reports utilizing the current circumstances to further their pocketbook and/or political agendas, actively working to discredit governmental responses because of their personal disdain for the federal administration and its head.

At the same time, I think that reports by some on the other side of the political spectrum, that the whole thing is overblown, ignores what has been happening in other countries. I don’t think the Italian news are out to get trump, so to speak… I think it takes conspiratorial levels of worry to get there.

However, we should also be constantly mindful of our liberties, and not allow emergency conditions be used as a catalyst for authoritarian minded individuals from permanently grabbing at our rights and keeping them for the government. Short term must mean short term.

Solutions may be organized from the top, but even that is questionable. If things get as bad here as they have elsewhere, the system will be overwhelmed. It is local action, then, and action not dependent on government direction, which will be the ultimate saving grace