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Friday, February 28, 2020

Quarantine

I'm not going to get started on the Wuhan Flu, Corona virus, COVID-19, or whatever they're calling it this week. The amount of actual information available is too sparse and unreliable for me to make many recommendations, so I won't be writing much about how to deal with this particular nasty.
Today's post is about my thoughts on one aspect of the spread of this disease.

There are some basics that are almost universal to preppers, the main one being “Stay away from crowds”. This is good advice for a lot of reasons, but slowing the spread of disease is an important one. One method of avoiding crowds is quarantine. People on cruise ships, in hotels, and even entire cities are being locked down with nobody being allowed in or out. Some travelers are keeping themselves apart or away from the public as a form of voluntary quarantine, which sounds to this cynical old man like a good reason to take a vacation from work. Two weeks of no people isn't a punishment for some of us, and I've paid good money for less.

Whichever way it happens, quarantine outside of a hospital or government facility is going to be a form of forced bugging in. You're going to be unable to restock food supplies for around 14 days, although water and electricity should still be available. If you get stuck in such a situation, treat it as a test run for your food preps. Do you have two weeks worth of food on-hand right now? Are you ready to spend two weeks in close proximity to your family or roommates? I pity those who have young children that don't understand why they can't go outside or visit their friends, and I pray that their internet and cable don't go out.

I happen to live within an hour's drive of one of the few infectious disease isolation facilities in the US. They treated Ebola patients, mainly medical staff returning from Africa, a few years ago. The dealt with SARS before that, and have a good reputation of doing their job well. That level of quarantine is close to an extended stay in an intensive care unit, and the patients are only going to be vaguely aware of what's going on.

We also had a few dozen US citizens brought back from China placed in quarantine in a National Guard (NG) base nearby (they all went home after their stay). Government-funded quarantine would be like staying in a 2-star resort for vacation: not much to see or do, but your meals and shelter would be provided. The NG base was fairly close to an airport, had good access control, and the barracks weren't in use at this time of year, so it made a good low-threat quarantine site. If COVID-19 blows up to full pandemic-scale disease outbreak, I doubt the authorities will even try to move people to quarantine sites, because it's much cheaper and easier to simply lock them in their own homes, towns, or cities and control the traffic going in or out.

I've seen stories coming out of China of people in high-rise apartments relying on their upstairs neighbors lowering food down in baskets to stay fed. Do you know your upstairs neighbors? Do you have a good enough relationship with them that they would be willing to help you? What about the neighbors below you, are you willing to help them if you have the supplies to spare or aren't part of the quarantine? Do you have a basket/bucket and a piece of rope long enough to reach their window or balcony?

Most diseases have an incubation period where people have been infected but aren't showing any symptoms, allowing them to spread the disease as they travel. I've seen a range of possible incubation periods for this bug (that “sparse and unreliable” part I mentioned) that vary from 9 to 21 days, with 14 days seeming to be the default number. Your 72-hours kit isn't going to be quite enough, so you might want to set aside some extra supplies while they're available. I expect to see regional runs on canned foods and other supplies soon if things get much worse.


I'll be keeping an eye on the reports of how this outbreak unfolds and may write more about it in a few weeks. The levels of hysteria and misinformation at present may make some people a pile of money, but they do nothing to help people actually get through it. Panic and fear are often used as tools to steer people towards a desired purchase or action, so be aware that there are plenty of folks out there who will use any crisis to enrich themselves. We are not here to spread fear; we aren't selling anything, and we write this blog to pass on information and help you, our readers, prepare for bad times. 

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