So it appears that the US’s response to the coronavirus thus far is, “Good luck with that.” The saga of non-testing continues, with standard procedures still continuing to assume that travel to an outbreak area is required in order to catch the virus, and no real plan in place to do serious triage and infection control before exposing other patients and staff.
A few token patients get identified and quarantined, and everyone else gets a generic “stay home if you’re sick” message that in no way takes into account the reality that American society is almost entirely built on not staying home when you are sick. School attendance policies don’t allow for it. Workplace attendance policies don’t allow for it.
To make the spread of the virus even more certain, many school and work attendance policies require the provision of a doctor’s note in order to excuse absences and thereby avoid truancy charges or termination — thus the booming urgent-care industry, where you can pop in during extended hours and spend five minutes with a doctor who will write you an excuse.
Barring a major public health campaign to change these factors, people who value their jobs and their good relationship with the department of social services are going to carry on as usual. Even with a public health campaign in place, unless there are serious provisions made for assistance covering lost childcare and lost wages, people are going to make the hard decision to continue faking their way through the day, as we do now. Which means we continue to live behind the curve. Call it Italian-style.
The good news is that South Korea, which is testing vigorously and thus has the most reliable statistics, is showing only a half of a percent overall mortality rate (.62% at this writing). That’s awesome news for the general public.
Italian-style, though, does not bode well for nursing home residents, people at high risk of complications, and Walmart employees. Thus, prepping: If you buy your extra pack of toilet paper this week while you aren’t coughing and sneezing, you won’t need to run to the store in a pinch when you do come down with the thing, and thus go around infecting the people who cannot afford to be infected.
I do not have good prepping advice to give. I am not a minimalist. My house is cluttered. My hoarding instincts have been steadily reinforced over the years thanks to hurricanes, ice storms, dam breaks, water main breaks, almost-a-snowstorms (you want to never truly *need* groceries, lest you get stuck going to the store the day before the snow doesn’t come), guess-who’s-coming-to-dinner and “by the way I need _________ by tomorrow morning.” So maybe I have a closet we call “Prepperville”? Yes I do.
But these are things that I know:
#1. Bleach. It does so, so many useful things. Good for all kinds of emergencies. Get the plain stuff.
#2. You know you’re a born prepper if you hate going anywhere without dish soap. It can be used on bodies of many species, clothes, dishes, your bathtub, your car . . . whatever needs to be washed. You actually *can* put it in a laundry- or dish-washing machine, if you manage the dosage properly. Gets the grease out.
#3. Duct tape and contractor bags, individually or in combination, can be used to solve so many different problems I can’t imagine you don’t keep both on hand at all times. In a crisis, it’s therapeutic to go ahead and top off. It doesn’t really matter what kind of crisis.
#4. My son buys the wrong coffee. Actually every member of my family buys the wrong coffee, but 4/6ths of those people are not my problem, because they can just cope. In a crisis, nobody wants the boy and I going cold turkey on the caffeine. He buys this stuff:
Photo penance of the day: Me holding a package of Aldi brand dark roast coffee labeled “Colombia.”
This is wrong. In the same box from Aldi you can get either “Colombia” or “Sumatra.” Both are dark roast. Both are fair trade. But one of them is just not as good as the other. I confirmed this by accident this morning.
First week of any disaster, he and I are going to have the coffee we want.* We can slowly adapt to our circumstances as we toughen up gradually. Everyone will be happier that way.
#5. Your three teenage daughters do not want to adapt to improvised feminine hygiene products the first week of the disaster. Give them at least a month into the apocalypse before you lay that one on them.
#6. Yes. I know that most people throughout history did not have toilet paper. Many manage just fine without even to this day. I don’t care. Quit making fun of people who binged on toilet paper this week.
#7. Other people’s ideas of good prepper-food are usually disgusting. You have to figure this one out on your own. I go with ingredients that already feature in our regular menu, are pretty durable in a weather event, and can be consumed either uncooked or else can be cooked over an alternate cooking source (propane stove, charcoal, wood fire, etc). You’ll be pleased to know that the best popcorn recipe ever stands up to this rule.
In conclusion: In the face of any disaster, I’m totally prepared to live on coffee and popcorn. We’ll be fine.
*The ability to improvise coffee-making** under nearly any circumstance is my chief super-power.
**I did not say you would like my improvised coffee. Indeed, I prefer that you do not.