Our First Day of Self-Imposed Quarantine

When I woke up this morning, 2,219 Americans were reported to have tested positive for COVID-19. That represents close to 600 more than the day before.

It looks like today will be the first, official day of our self-imposed quarantine as we attempt to avoid catching COVID-19.  My wife had wanted to go to the Re-Store one town over to drop some items off and then to brunch, but I somehow convinced her that it could wait.

“What the heck,” she said.  “I’ve been adding stuff to that pile for three months, another three months won’t make a difference.”  She maintains multiple piles: One for the dump, one for the scrap exchange one for Goodwill or the veterans.  I mostly maintain a pile for the dump and for selling.  I’m not sure there’s a market for used science fiction and action adventure books from the 1990s and early 2000s, but I’m willing to give it a try.  I’m an old hand at eBay.  On the other hand, I know I can get cash for lead-acid batteries, copper scrap, etc.

We’re whittling down our possessions.  Giving away, throwing away, recycling, shredding and selling.  Last weekend, a friend picked up our two bunk beds.  The week before that, two bicycles found a new home.  We’re downsizing, planning to move into a smaller house in a far more rural area.

When I bought this house 18 years ago, it was rural-ish.  No sidewalks.  No HOA.  A well and septic system. Everyone had a few acres.  People raised chickens and guinea hens (some still do) and a few hunted.  Since then, the empty lots have filled up with new houses, not only in our little neighborhood but on the way here and out past us.  New neighbors hear a gun shot and they wince or complain on the community list serve, even though we are far from the city limits and there are no laws prohibiting the discharge of firearms. Go back to the city!  I think, but am too polite to say. (There is a reason my wife is on the list serve instead of me, and it has something to do with not suffering fools gladly.)  You moved to the ex-burbs for a reason. Adapt to it, don’t force them to adapt to you.

I am looking forward to moving somewhere that is far more off the beaten track. Somewhere that won’t get over run in another 20 years. But before we move, we have to get rid of 18 years of accumulation, and as you may know, preppers tend to accumulate stuff, thinking, Hey, that could be useful one day. Downsizing is no easy chore. 

OK, I take that back.  Some of it is pretty easy.  I’ve shredded taxes returns going back to 1989.  I’ve recycled work related materials from jobs I held before the turn of the century.  (I really doubt a hiring manger would care what I did in 1998.)  I’ve also tossed anything on a floppy disk.

I’ve found stuff while cleaning up and purging, too.  My favorite find so far is 12 boxes of 165 grain ballistic tip .308 ammo that I bought and tucked away for safe keeping some time before 2000.  Let’s just say it was so safe, it took me 20 years to find it.  I also found a small stack of Penthouse and Playboy magazines from 1993 and 1994.  In the interests of science, I glanced through a few of them, and I can assure you that women look pretty much the same now as they did back then.  Unfortunately, they are only selling for about $4 each on eBay – not worth the time and effort to list.  (Make me and offer!)

The Cat Gets Prepped

But back to the quarantine: My wife worried that we only had 20 days of wet cat food for the cat.  How is this possible? I wondered.  I had bought 18 cans a few weeks ago, that’s 36 days’ worth.  Then I did the math and realized that was probably 16 days ago.  I pulled up our local Walmart online. Maybe I could do one of their grocery pick-ups where they stick the bag in the back of your car and you are never really face-to-face with anyone.  (That sounds pretty safe.)  That would give me an excuse to get a couple dozen eggs.  We only have 44 eggs in the fridge, down from a peak of 60.  That’s 11 days’ worth if we each of two a day.  If my wife has one most of the time, so that brings us up to two weeks, assuming we don’t use any  in cooking or baking. 

Alas, Walmart is out of the particular brand and flavor of cat food upon which our cat insists.  No cat food means no excuse to get more eggs.  As you can probably tell, I like eggs, but I don’t care so much for powdered eggs.  I have 10 pounds of Quaker Oats oatmeal in the basement, plus pails of steel cut and rolled oats.  We have both grits and granola in #10 cans.   Clearly, we’re not going to run out of breakfast foods any time soon, but I still like eggs better.

In the search for cat food, I turned to Amazon.  They offer a 24-pack of the cat food we need for $13.99, which gives the cat 48 days of additional wet food.  I can get it delivered the next day, but I opt for Tuesday because I already have an Amazon Pantry order coming in that day.  Now the cat is prepped.

Since we are not leaving the house, I can always order eggs from our local grocery store, which has a delivery service.  Maybe we’ll make an online order in 10 days or so, if it seems safe to do so and if there is food available.  I’m sure my wife will want fresh vegetables by then. Time will tell.

We’ve been taking a wait-and-see attitude quite a bit lately when it comes to meetings outside the house.  I’ve been trying to get us to self-quarantine for about two weeks.  We have cut back on many things, but it has not been a total quarantine.  For example, we’ve both been to doctor or dentist visits.

I went to visit the spine specialist, figuring that this was safer than going to a general practitioner.  They asked me a series of questions about my travel, exposure to anyone with the coronavirus, etc.  I thought it was funny that they through Washington State into the list with China, Iran and Italy.  Why not add New York?  After I made it to the exam room, they took my temperature.  I’m sure we all breathed a sigh of relief when it was 98.6. The doctor coughed. I felt like asking him to take his temperature.

Decisions about where to go and when to politely withdraw have been made easier for us because the other parties have started canceling events and activities.  This has made it easier because I usually want to stay in and my wife wants to go out.

I’m the more serious prepper, but my wife is being a trooper and putting up with me.  She is not against prepping; it’s just tougher for her to withdraw from society.  I’ll admit that I was relieved when the bishop canceled church services because I think that’s an excellent place to catch a novel virus, and probably the largest gathering we go to most weeks.  They are offering online services.  I would not describe them as tech-savvy, so this should be interesting.

Our health insurer emailed us Friday night.  Considering that I don’t like health insurers, it was a pretty nice letter warning anyone who had missed the news lately that COVID-19 was spreading, the governor had declared a state of emergency, and informing us that they would be paying for all COVID-19 tests.  They also stated that anyone diagnosed as positive will not require prior approval for medically necessary services.  I did notice that they didn’t say they were covering 100% of those services…

They also encouraged customers to try to shift doctor’s appointments to phone calls and that they were waiving early medication refill limits and encouraging us to have medicines mailed to our homes.  Sounds like they think mandatory quarantine is coming.

Better Late than Never

My eldest daughter, who lives four states away, grew up while we were prepping for Y2K.  She knew we had boxes of #10 cans and super pails in the basement.  Yet she is one of the many people who waited to the last minute to prep.  Yesterday, she complained about the absence of toilet paper, not because she wanted to stock up, but because she was legitimately out of stock.  (OK, she as down to 6 rolls).  They finally found a store that ad 15 packs of 12 and she bought two of them.  I sent her a list of things she should buy for a 30-day quarantine. You can download it below.

Today she texted me that she “Went to the grocery store to get some stuff on your list.  I was at Aldi when it opened at 9 a.m.  Line around the building to get in.  Apparently, Walmart down the road ran out of pasta, sauce, tp and MEAT!!!  Aldi ran out of stuff but got a truck in overnight.  People are nuts, so I stocked up on meat as well as cans of soup, chili, veggies, pasta, rice etc.”

My youngest has a giant freezer chest and stocks up when things are on sale.  She confidently told he she has about three months of food on hand.

I’ve told both my kids that if they show up here, they’re going to have to be quarantined at least 14 days before we let them in the house.  That means you can live in the detached garage but you have to poop in the woods. Unless violence breaks out and their homes become unsafe, I’d rather they stay where they are and I’ll ship them supplies if they get desperate.  Or I’ll leave a pile in the driveway and they can drive up, load them in the car, wave to us in the window and head back home.  I’m serious.  They’re all grown up and have significant others.  They should be able to take care of themselves.  I don’t want them to endanger my wife and I. (I know, this sounds selfish, but quarantine is quarantine and they are both still going to work every day while we are not.)

Back when I was younger, HIV hit, and I remember being told that when you have unprotected sex with someone, it’s like you’re having unprotected sex with everyone they’ve ever slept with. That drove home the point to me. 

With COVID-19, that warning has changed: When you shake hands with someone, it’s like shaking hands with everyone they’ve met in the past three weeks.

Stay safe.

Author: The Pickled Prepper

Pete the Pickled Prepper lives on an isolated homestead on the side of a mountain deep in in rural America. He has been preparing for the end of the world for more than 25 years.