Dateline: 2-26-20. Why would I write about the Coronavirus (COVID-19)? As a person who once was among those responsible for emergency management and disaster mitigation at a college with 76,000 students, who were attending classes at multiple campuses, I participated in extensive planning for the highly-anticipated “Bird Flu Epidemic.” While that disease did not produce a Pandemic, the current spread of a Coronavirus, or COVID-19, does pose such a threat.
So, I’d like to share some information and a few suggestions with you. This info will become outdated as the situation evolves rapidly. Feel free to skip the preamble about the country’s preparedness, what testing involves, etc. and go directly to the tips at the end, if you want to. Look for the mask emoji, like this one if you want to skip.
How Widespread is the Coronavirus as of This Date?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is the national public health institute of the United States. It is part of the Department of Health and Human Services and is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. I’m about to share some information from a CDC press briefing, of 2-26-20, by Dr. Dr. Nancy Messonnier. You can read the entire transcript or hear the audio recording by Clicking Here.
In case you are short on time or patience…
…below are some CDC excerpts that will be followed by a few basic ideas for how you can prepare for a potential pandemic. Food, gasoline, medical supplies, personal protective equipment (PPE – like face masks and protective clothing), and other goods may be in short supply if large areas become quarantined. We’ve already seen this happen in China, and Japan has closed its schools for one month, so it’s best to start thinking about it now and to take action before huge crowds empty the stores, like they do when blizzards are approaching.
COVID-19 Stats According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
In China, there have been thousands of deaths, but the exact number is unknown for a variety of reasons.
“There are 14 confirmed cases picked up through the U.S. public health systems. And 40 plus 3 makes 43 among individuals repatriated into the United States.”
“…cases of COVID-19 are appearing without a known source of exposure. Communities include Hong Kong, Italy, Iran, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand….The fact this virus has caused illness – including illness resulting in death and sustained person-to-person spread is concerning. These factors meet two of the criteria of the pandemic. The world moves closer towards meeting the third criteria – a worldwide spread of the new virus.”
(Before I finished this post, the number had risen to 60 people known to have the infection in the USA and 47 countries had reported outbreaks, including in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.)
“….It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness…no medications approved to treat it. Non-pharmaceutical interventions or NPIs will be the most important tools in our response to this virus. What these interventions look like at the community level will vary depending on local conditions.”
Current Answers to Questions About
Symptoms, Vaccines and Test Kits for COVID-19
Death Rate: currently estimated at about 2% of those who contract the disease, as compared to about less than 1% of those who die from common flu. Most susceptible are people over sixty and those who have other medical issues, such as diabetes, congestive heart conditions, cancer, and lung issues.
Vaccine. There is no vaccine. It is likely to take about a year and a half to develop, test, and approve a vaccine.
Medications. There are no medications approved for treating COVID-19.
Symptoms and Transmission Issues
According to Dr. Christopher Mores, Public Health Professor at George Washington University: at this point, the virus does not seem to change or weaken as it is transmitted.
COVID-19 symptoms are similar to other disease indications, and some people with the virus are asymptomatic. This makes it difficult for clinicians to differentiate fully on the basis of symptoms. That is why tests are needed.
“Community Transmission” refers to the virus being passed from person to person – versus known instances of transmission from bats in China to people who interacted with the animals in a Chinese market. In community transmission, it is expected that the transmission is through airborne droplets, and experts do not know precisely where the infections originate.
About Those Coronavirus Test Kits
Test Kits. There have been issues with the quality of results from test kits, AND there are very few test kits. In fact, according to the CDC, test kits are only in 12 state or local health departments…not 12 states total…12 state or local health departments! There is no current backlog or delay for testing at CDC. Commercial labs will also be coming online soon with their own tests.
The Process for Testing With Current Test Kits (per CDC)
- The focus priority is on people with a travel history that puts them at risk for contracting the virus and on people close to them.
- A health care provider identifies them and calls the health department
- The health department helps them triage those patients…and then the samples are worked with the health department.
- …If that happens, it will be more and more important that the clinicians have a full tool kit. That’s why the availability of commercial kits would be so helpful. So in the short-term, it’s the clinician calls the health department. And either the health department already has the test kit themselves or if they don’t yet have it stood up, they send it to CDC. Our turnaround at CDC is within a day. There is a little bit of shipping time. But that’s the process health, retail, education, and business sectors.
Point of Care Reliable Testing
Obviously, reliable tests are needed, and they need to be readily available for administration and processing at the Point of Care “in the field” without having to be sent to the CDC and awaiting results after shipping, processing, and reshipping to the originator.
Non-pharmaceutical Interventions (NPIs)
Without vaccines and medications, we use other protective measures. Again, the CDC briefing mentions three categories of NPIs. I’ll list some specific things you may either want to do (or we may be forced to do) below. Here are the categories.
- Personal NPIs include personal protective measures you can take every day (like thorough hand and food washing, for example) and personal protective measures reserved for pandemics (like wearing protective masks, or telecommuting, for example.
- Community NPIs include social distancing measures designed to keep people who are sick away from others. (This may involve closures of schools, religious, and entertainment venues, among others.)
- Environmental NPIs include surface cleaning measures.
Who Is Responsible for Handling a Coronavirus Pandemic in the USA?
Ultimately, the President is. Obviously, it is government employees who do all the work, however.
What we know is that, since 2018, the President directed that key scientific and management staff plus major funding for disease management be stripped from the Global Health Security Units in the National Security Council (NSA), the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Housing and Human Services.
It took years under the Obama administration to construct these emergency management groups, which work together to handle various facets of health problems and to obtain Congressional funding for research and operations. Then, the current administration purged the lead scientists and managers in each of these agencies, stripped the funding, and did not provide any replacement plan, agency, or operations.
Update From the President in Press Briefing on Coronavirus
Of course, President Trump now has submitted a budget that cuts about $4 Billion from the CDC and the National Institutes of Health. Will he revise those line items to restore funding and appoint a true expert to manage the crisis? That remains to be seen; but, as I am writing this, he is holding a press conference, indicating he appointing Vice President Pence to oversee the COVID-19 response plans. He says he also is going to agree to more funding, as requested by Congress, and to create an operational plan for working with the state governments, for developing vaccines and medications, and for acquiring Personal Protective Equipment.
Among other representatives on stage with him was Dr. Anne Schuchat, CDC Principal Deputy Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director, National Institute of Allergy & Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health. He indicates that a vaccine is being developed, but that it will take months to go through all the protocols necessary for approval.
This article is not primarily about the political situation. However, if you want to hear about it from an expert, rather than from me, I refer you to Laurie Garrett, who is a health policy analyst and science reporter. In 1994, she wrote, “The Coming Plague.” In 1996, she won a Pulitzer Prize for her work regarding the Ebola epidemic. In 1997, she won a Polk Award for studies of infectious diseases in the Soviet Union. I discovered her via The Rachel Maddow Show, and so can you.
What Does That Leave Us With? The CDC!
How Well Prepared is the USA for A Coronavirus Pandemic?
The CDC has known for years that the U.S. could have a pandemic of influenza or other viral infection and has been exercising with the state and local health departments, despite cuts in federal funding and staff. But, issues are great…. Now is the time for businesses, hospitals, community schools, and everyday people to begin preparing as well.
Questions must be answered. What are the local considerations for quarantine or isolation and how can they be resolved? And in each location in the united states, it may end up being a slightly different answer.
How is it defined?
How is it imposed?
Who will enforce it and how?
The CDC exercises demonstrated that there will be supply issues…The health care workers put themselves on the front line caring for ill patients and have to be a priority to make sure they are protected.
Current estimates indicate that approximately 2% of infected people die of COVID-19. That sounds like a small number, but 2% of several million or billion people is a lot of folks. Thus, we should take the issues seriously and try to find solutions to prevent the spread of disease, as well as to cure it or to mitigate symptoms.
Things TO DO In Preparation for a Possible Coronavirus Pandemic
DAILY PROTECTION AND RECUPERATION AIDS
Get updates from WebMD. and/or the CDC. Alternatively, if the Trump Administration follows through on what appears to be an effort to stop Pandemic experts and top infectious disease scientists who work for the NIH and CDC from describing current realities, I recommend you go to the World Health Organization for information.
It is true that, per the NIMS protocols, (National incident Management System), crisis managers should appoint and utilize one source of public information. However, that source is supposed to give accurate accounts of a given situation, not to suppress the truth of that situation.
Wash Your Hands Frequently and After Contact With People and Pets
- Just like we all should do to stay healthy: thoroughly wash your hands – preferably along with wrists and forearms, where we lean on things and get all kinds of dirty.
- Ideally, we will keep washing our hands for 20 seconds as long as it takes us to sing the Happy Birthday song (maybe twice).
Also wash items that others handle, like using alcohol wipes to clean keyboards, cell phones, steering wheels and gear shifts, keys, door handles, and anything else you can think of that is likely to have come into contact with people’s hands or when they cough or sneeze.
Quit Shaking Hands.
- Great substitutes are putting hands in the prayer position, as the Indian people do when greeting one another with the words, “Namaste.“
- It also is a common salutation and departure custom in yoga practices wherein you put your hands together at your heart or in front of your “third eye” (the center of your forehead between your eyes), bow, and say “Namaste.”
- Obviously, if you’re just using the prayer position to substitute for a handshake, you don’t have to say, “Namaste.” Just say whatever you normally would say to the person whom you are greeting!
- We have learned that elbow-bumping and foot-bumping may bring the two people into close facial contact. Since the protocol is to keep 3 – 5 feet distance apart, those alternatives to hand-shaking and hugging no longer are recommended. (as of 3/13/20),
- You also may choose to hold some meetings online, rather than in-person, to reduce exposure.
Surgical Masks With Virus Protection
- Buy and use surgical or virus masks (unless otherwise guided by the CDC or other authorities) when in public gatherings. Very recent reports indicate there may be insufficient masks for all health providers, so be attuned to recommendations from authorities about what kind of mask is most effective and about availability. The truth is that many surgical and other face masks are ineffective when it comes to stopping viruses. However, they may assist in the containment of certain germs when the wearer is the one who is ill.
- First responders and medical teams and staff may need the kind with eye protection. They and health care workers need N95 masks to avoid incoming respiratory droplets.
Stash Stuff for a Few Weeks Period – For People and Pets.
Buy a supply of non-perishable foods. This is a great idea. Buy canned foods, packaged rice or contents that just need to be heated, but that can be eaten if utilities are down.
However, DON’T DO WHAT I DID last time – which was to forget to eat them periodically and to put the oldest things in front, so that they can be consumed before the expiration dates.
It’s also wise to buy stuff that you normally would eat. Otherwise, you’re likely to procrastinate past the expiration dates. If you’re like me and don’t typically eat canned foods, you must make a conscious effort to do this at least once a week and replenish what you’ve taken from your collection, putting new items in the back of the storage area.
Don’t forget laundry products, kitty litter, toilet paper, tissues, cold and flu products (if you use them), and other essential non-food items!
Yes, just like preparing for stormy weather, you should stockpile some water. NO, you don’t have to buy a bunch of bottled water and pollute the landscape and ocean with plastic bottles! You can use the water from your tap to fill glass bottles and storage containers for two categories: 1) for drinking and cooking water 2) bathing, washing dishes, and other household needs.
Store it, but be sure to change the water every six months or so. Perhaps you have a note-to-self about changing smoke alarm batteries. Just add this to that list, so you can remember to do it.
Here I Go – Talking About Using Clay Again – Internally
I am not a physician. I am not giving you medical advice. You should consult with your health care provider before trying anything ingestible. However, since there currently is no medication for treating the COVID-19 illness, I would refer you one more time to the ability to use clay to detox a body. It has such GREAT healing properties. It’s inexpensive, easy to use, and can do so much for you. It takes toxins, bacteria, viruses, and metals out of the body. Click Here to learn more.
It is up to you as to whether to explore this option after you consult with your doctor. Do NOT use clay if you are taking medications or have any metal in your body, as clay removes “foreign objects” from the body.
Medications for Family and Pets
If you can, stock up on medications and medical supplies you would need if you were housebound for some weeks. I know this is a major issue, as some insurance companies won’t let pharmacies fill prescriptions for more than a month at a time or one refill at a time.
Batteries and Battery -Operated Candles
These suggestions are basically the same as I would recommend for people weathering a severe weather storm which can cause prolonged power outages.
Battery operated candles (also known as flameless candles) will help you have light without worrying about flames and fires from unattended candles or those that could be tipped over by kids and pets. I find the ones which give the most light are those which have flickering “wicks” that look like real candles. They have the added advantage of giving beauty to the ambience of the room while serving this practical purpose.
Gasoline and Other Products
Again, it is possible that not only stores, but gas stations and other businesses will close if their employees become ill and/or if supplies cannot get to them. Thus, you may wish to use gas storage containers to hold gasoline – especially if your employment requires driving or you must mow grass as part of your lifestyle or business.
Again, DO NOT DO WHAT I DID which was to let the gasoline “sit too long.” Somehow it got distilled or lost its oomph and was unusable by the time I remembered it was there and tried to use it.
“PortaPotties” for Homeowners
In case you didn’t know this, portable jons are available to consumers. These are the size of a toilet seat, with a container receptacle below the seat. Not everyone will want to purchase them, but they are an option for personal use and for small businesses or organizations in case of long term power outages. The more expensive ones come with sanitizing products, or you can buy such products separately, if you wish. Lime has long been used in outdoor toilets (or holes in the ground used as toilets).
Let’s Get Real. Not Panic. Preparedness Is The Goal
A Coronavirus Pandemic Can Result In Major Changes
in Life Routines and Arrangements
The truth is – overwhelming – which is why I won’t elaborate here. When I was responsible for creating and implementing emergency plans, I learned that most people literally cannot “wrap their minds around it,” so they choose to “put their heads in the sand” and ignore it in favor of hoping all will be well.
But, the fact is, that – in a severe pandemic of any kind – people may be quarantined in large numbers. We’ve already seen that major events are being canceled. Joint military exercises have been canceled. Japan now has closed all schools. Even the Olympics may be canceled! Some airlines already are canceling flights. Sporting, theatrical, and other entertainment events may be shut down. it’s called …
Some of that seems like “no big deal.” We can forego a concert. But, that’s not the point. There are already over 47 countries experiencing the COVID-19 virus infection in their populations. Secretary Alex Azar, of the Department of Health and Human Services, says that “No-one’s life is going to change,” On the surface, that would appear to be a statement to calm the stock markets.
The fact is that, if we do experience a severe. world-wide pandemic, many people will be too ill to go to work or will be under quarantine, potentially resulting in failures of utilities, food supplies, etc. We already know that some people who tested positive for COVID-19 and “recovered,” now are testing positive again. It could become a problem of great magnitude. I’m not saying this WILL happen. I’m saying it is best to think about it a little bit and to plan for it as best one can.
What About School or Work Closings and Child Care Considerations?
For example, what if all schools close, and/or your childcare giver cannot take care of your kids for an extended period of time?
What are you going to do a) if you work b) if you don’t work?
- Who will take care of the children during this time period?
- How will they continue their studies?
- Do you and the schools have electronic systems available, so that homework assignments can be given, done, and returned>
- If one of your kids or other family members gets sick, do you quarantine your whole family? What will be the rules and government, educational institutions, and businesses impose on you, regardless of what you prefer to do?
The same concept applies to work. What if you are quarantined, but physically able to work? Have you and your employer made an agreement to allow you to work remotely? Do both of you have the physical means to do that? What assignments cannot be done remotely? What functions are essential? Which are NOT essential for a few weeks at time? What tasks can be outsourced?
Should You Avoid Sports, Cultural, Religious and Other Gatherings….Even Shopping Malls?
Of course, all of this bodes poorly for the economy – whether that be one’s personal income, or the economies of any community – local, state, nationwide, and worldwide. That is far beyond my ability to address. As mentioned, even what I have enumerated above may be outdated by the time I finish writing this post. I offer this information and these suggestions merely as “food for thought” to raise awareness as the Coronavirus spreads.
IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE CONTRACTED COVID-19 NOW
Per today’s expert advice, if you feel ill and as though you may have contracted COVID-19, please contact your doctor for advice BEFORE going to an health facility, unless your situation is urgent. That way, the physician can give you the best current advice about testing and can help prevent contagion through interaction with others. It also gives them a chance to prepare space and people for your visit if they have you come to a doctor’s office.
Let’s Gel Well, Stay Well, and Live Well Together Now!