Unless you live under a rock, you will know that Coronavirus is a very hot issue in the world right now. It is almost impossible to visit a news site, turn on the television, or listen to the radio without encountering a story about it. It is so overwhelming that it is difficult to discern what the real facts are and what is hype to get better ratings or political clout. It is important to examine the details to determine the best course of action.
First, what is the coronavirus? According to the World Health Organization (WHO)
“Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19.”
Common symptoms that occur with COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Less frequently people may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. For the vast majority of patients these symptoms are mild and begin gradually. Some people who become infected don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell.
About 80 percent of the people that become infected actually get better without any special treatment. Only about 1 in 6 that get the illness will have serious issues. Lots of times this is due to other already present medical issues. Of all those that get ill, only 2 percent die according to currently reported numbers. Some sources theorize that this percentage may even be too high since some people that would fall into the mildly ill category might just get well and fail to report it. It might be chalked up to a mild case of the flu or a bad cold. As you can see from this data, Coronavirus is far from a Black Plague type illness.
While localized, the virus can spread fairly rapidly, globally it is very limited. Right now only about 5 percent of the verified cases are outside China. This means with proper medical response and quarantine those already infected should be able to get well without infecting others. Globally this makes a huge difference. While a vaccine would be great, stopping the spread from person to person will begin to snuff out the virus.
So, the biggest question might be “How do I prepare for this?” In all honesty the first step is common sense. Practice good hygiene to avoid the possibility of picking the virus up from your surroundings. This includes properly washing your hands, keeping your hands away from your mouth and eyes, and not sharing drinks with anyone. These will go much farther toward keeping you healthy in most surroundings than a mask. Another part of this is limiting your interaction with others if you become ill. As much as possible, avoid interactions with family, friends, and coworkers until you are well. This will contain the spread if you do have the coronavirus and possibly keep you from catching it a second time from those you infected.
As far as more traditional preparation, the need to possibly secluded yourself means you should make sure that you are stocked up on essentials. Food, water, toilet paper, prescription medications, and cold/flu medications to help with the symptoms is a good starting point. This will mean you can stay at home and limit exposing others or being exposed. This may well be enough if the virus progresses as it is now.
There are two other possibilities that you may need to ponder when deciding your level of preparation. The first is that due to either an explosive spread of the virus or a viral mutation that makes it much deadlier, the situation globally becomes much worse. The second is that public panic sets in causing social upheaval that exceeds the danger of the virus itself. If either of these were to happen, you may need to prepare at a higher level. In this case, depending on how bad it gets, you might need longer term and more elaborate food and gear stores. Gear such as flashlights, a camp stove, water purification systems, and hygiene supplies should be stocked in case power goes out and cannot be restored quickly. Longer term food in larger quantities could be needed since you may not know when you will be able to get more. Panicked people (for good reasons or not) can pick the stores clean very quickly. That is already happening in some areas. Also, transportation of goods might be limited as a precaution and that would isolate you from online sources. In addition, proper personal protection equipment (PPE) should be on hand to protect you at times you have to interface with people, animals, or locations that might infect you. Proper masks and gloves would be the most basic. Face shields, hazmat suits, and disinfecting chemicals might be in order if you plan for the worst.
Planning and gathering supplies should be done soon if you plan to. An amount of panic has already set in for certain people and areas. This is causing your selection of certain items to be thinner than normal. One example is N95 masks. These are almost impossible to get through normal channels and auction sites are seeing them sell for ridiculous prices. It is simply the law of supply and demand with a hefty dose of opportunistic greed tossed in.
If you are looking for more specifics on items you might need, my previous post The list I thought I would never make is a good starting point. The items listed there are aimed at making a family prepared for longer term survival in uncertain situations.
So, in this changing situation, remember to stay calm and plan ahead in order to stay on top of the situation as the level increases. As always, if you have specific questions, feel free to contact me.