Day 10 of Quarantine: Quiet on the Home Front

After 10 days, we have adjusted to our life in quarantine and settled into a routine. We’ve adapted to being home full time and are getting along well. We’ve determined that it is important to have goals and to schedule at least one activity or chore per day.

It rained steadily today, which is good for the garden, but means we cannot work outside.  We pushed today’s outdoors activities off until tomorrow and did some reading and relaxing and we both had a conference call and later touched bases with family.  It was a good day. Very much like a lazy Saturday a few months back.

Forced to work inside, I worked out and then I cleaned and lubed the rest of my guns.  I found that most of them are in good shape – no actual cleaning required and just some light oiling.  Those that need the most attention are my daily carries, which tend to collect holster lint, and the rifle that often resides in the car.  The Remington 870 I keep by my bed was dusty and had some rug lint, but it functioned just fine.  Given the amount of dust, it probably good that it is a pump and not a semi auto.

While cleaning the guns, I also check the flashlights and optics to ensure they are operative and that the batteries are in good shape and that nothing has corroded.  Where possible, I use lithium cells, even with AAs, because they are not prone to corrosion like an alkaline battery.  Yes, lithium AA batteries are a couple bucks more expensive, but who wants to ruin an Aimpoint 4 because they skimped on batteries?   Plus, their longer shelf live and run time is bonus that might save your life on day.

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U.S. COVID 19 Cases Grow Ten-Fold in one Week

This morning saw 33,018 COVID-19 cases reported in the United States, which is up 36 percent or 8,638 in the past 24 hours and ten times as many as it had a week ago. Deaths attributed to the coronavirus jumped 79 percent to 428.

Almost a third of all U.S. coronavirus cases are New York City.  When combined, New York State and New Jersey account for more than half of all cases in the U.S.

The growth in cases is not limited to the New York metropolitan area as other states have seen surges, including Louisiana, with the majority in New Orleans.  The state has made drive through testing available, and greater testing may account for some of the grow in cases. After recording 20 deaths due to COVID-19 in Louisiana, their governor has followed in the footsteps of other states with high levels of infection and initiated a state-wide lockdown to help reduce transmission of the virus and flatten the curve.

Globally, there are a reported 352,000 cases, up 12 percent, and the U.S. has passed Spain.  We now rank third in number of cases confirmed, behind only Italy and China. 

Even if U.S. lockdowns and social distancing start to have a noticeable impact on new cases, deaths will continue to soar for some time as they lag reported cases.  It is yet to be seen if treatment with hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin will reduce deaths as many hope.

The Cost of Non-Compliance

As the numbers of infection grow, there are a rising number of complaints about people who ignore the requests to stay at home and practice social distancing.  This was initially directed towards the younger generation who were enjoying spring break but has grown to include people across all demographics.  Too many people think they are special and that that the rules don’t apply to them and they are contributing to the spread of COVID-19. California has had to close down some golf courses, beaches and hiking trails because people have refused to practice social distancing.

Until a successful cure or other treatment is found or a vaccine is developed, the only way to stomp out this virus is to stop giving it hosts. That means eliminating transmission via casual contact. 

Coronavirus: Bug In or Bug Out

The question of whether to bug out and when to do so is one preppers face every time there’s an emergency. Sometimes it’s pretty clear. This is not one of those times.

I recently spoke to a good friend who is in our prepper group.  He and his family live and work in one location but most of his prepper supplies are at his retreat, which is about 3 hours away.  This includes the bulk of his storage food and ammo. 

They have plenty of food for now, and lots of .22LR, but he mentioned having only 150 rounds of ammo on hand for his rifle.  (Having this little ammo is, in my opinion, a mistake.  It’s easy to pack 500 or 1,000 rounds of 5.56 in an ammo can and throw in your trunk or the back of your car.)

I told him he had two choices:  One, go to his retreat, load his truck up with food and ammo, and bring it back home or two, bug out to his retreat and stay there.

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Novel Coronavirus Continues to Spread

The novel coronavirus that originated in Wuhan, China, continues to rapidly spread, both globally and in the U.S. As of this morning, the New York Times was reporting at least 24,380 cases in the U.S., an increase of 6,418, or 36 percent, in the last 24 hours. Deaths in U.S. due to COVID-19 jumped by 101, to 240.

Global case numbers reached 312,000 overall, with significant case growth in Italy and Spain.  Johns Hopkins reports that there have been more than 13,407 deaths from COVID 19 with Italy suffering the most at 4,825 known dead, more than China and Iran have reported.  (Note that I say “reported” because data from both Chin and Iran is largely suspect and believed to be vastly under reported.)

A few other interesting data points:

  • Washington State seems to be flattening its curve as cases grow more slowly, showing that social distancing and quarantines can and do work. 
  • Of all the coronavirus tests in Washington, 25,328, or 93 percent, have tested negative.  That’s pretty good for a state that lead the country in COVID-19 cases for most of March.
  • Nationally, more than 195,000 people have been tested for the virus.
  • In the past several days, New York State surged past Washington and now has 10,356 known cases, more than six times Washington’s reported 1,647 cases.
  • In addition to New York and Washington, California and New Jersey also have more than 1,000 cases.  Six other states have more than 500 cases.  There are now more states with over 100 cases than there are states with fewer than 100.
  • West Virginia, which was the last state in the nation to report a case, now has 12 reported cases.  It remains the state with the fewest infections.

Lockdowns Grow

More governors, mayors and other municipal officials are requesting, and in some cases insisting, that people stay home so that we can break the cycle of infection that is leading to the spread of COVID 19.

I’ve seen news reports that 1 in 4 Americans are now on lockdown.  I’m not sure that’s enough.

Day 8: We Cautiously Venture Out

We left the house again today, but we stayed as far away from people as possible.

Our first stop was a plant sale.  My wife, the gardener, usually attends a plant sale run by a well-known local organization that sells plants that are well-suited for our climate, zone, and and altitude.  Because of the coronavirus, the plant sale was cancelled by the venue where it is normally held, but the non-profit still had all the plants, so they offered them to their customer list via a big email list.

My wife picked out the plants she wanted and emailed them a list.  They gave her a time and place to pick them up.  We drove there, check in hand.  A woman stood at the end of her driveway, well behind a table filled with plants.  She took my wife’s name and then pointed to the plants set aside for her.  My wife slipped her check into the box they had for payments and grabbed her plants.  There were a few moments of chit chat from about 10 feet apart, but then a car pulled up behind me and, assuming it was the next customer, we left once the plants were carefully positioned in the back seat.

Next, we went by the CVS and picked up my prescription via the drive-up window. The guy working the window was wearing gloves but I didn’t see anyone in there with a mask.   I used my own pen to sign the receipt.  I now have 110 days’ worth of my hypertension medication.  Hopefully, that’s enough to outlast this virus.

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What’s Next: Recession, Depression, Economic Collapse or Rebound?

I suggested to my wife that we consider buying more meat from one of the local farmers we deal with, but she thinks we have enough beef in the freezer.  We do, under normal circumstances, but I not worried about what we’ll be eating in the next 30 days; I’m now worried about 90 days and beyond.  I’m worried about what happens to the economy after the coronavirus peaks and the lockdowns and quarantines are behind us.  Will there still be groceries on the shelves?  Will restaurants reopen?  Will we see a recession, depression, or experiencing a total economic collapse? Or will we bounce back and recover quickly? 

I don’t think anyone knows for sure, but I think we can all agree that when we emerge from our lockdowns and the coronavirus is just a bad memory, there will be a new normal and it may be quite different from the life we’ve enjoyed the past few years. 

Yes, America has suffered catastrophe before and persevered.  But the legacy of 9/11 was foreign wars, creation of TSA and Homleland Security, and the birth of a surveillance society.  I expect the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak may result in fewer handshakes, more people working from home, more people prepping, and more people glaring at you every time you cough or sneeze in public.  We can’t begin to imagine how the stock market crash will affect everyone who planned to retire in the next few years. We don’t know the impact of a wave of sudden deaths. And we cannot begin to imagine what legislation will come from this or what changes will be made to our relationship with China.

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New York Drives U.S. COVID-19 Growth

I awoke this morning to the news that 17,962 people in the U.S. were known to have COVID-19, an increase of 5,570 or 45 percent in 24 hours. There have been 44 new deaths, bringing to total to at least 239. Globally, there are more than 284,000 cases and close to 12,000 deaths.

Of the new cases in the U.S., more than half were from New York where the governor made news on Friday by asking all non-essential business to close or have all employees work from home, effective Sunday.  The list of “essential” businesses includes health/medical, public safety, drug store, grocery store, and food related businesses.  But the list of non-essential business is shorter, and includes places how large groups of people would congregate, like casinos and movie theaters, but also smaller places like nail salons, hair dressers, and barbers.

In short, this is no Chinese-style lockdown and you need not fear being welded into your apartment or dragged off to the gulag if you don’t obey.  Hopefully, it will be enough to keep selfish people from engaging in behavior that endangers themselves and others.

One has to question the unfairness of this shut down to businesses in Upstate New York, Central New York and the western portions of the state where there are still plenty of counties that no or only one or two reported cases.  Linda’s Family Diner in East Pembroke in Genesee County (where there is only one reported case) has to shut down because New York City has thousands of cases?  That doesn’t seem very fair.

I’m sure the same could be said in California, Pennsylvania, and other states where the governors have decreed lockdowns and shutdowns and closed non-essential businesses.  There seem to be clusters of virus outbreaks in urban counties while rural ones suffer the penalties but have little or no contagion. Maybe the shutdowns and lockdowns will stop the spread and they will thank us. Or maybe not.

There are days when I look at this unfolding disaster with optimism and there are days when I am pessimistic.  Today, I find myself vacillating between the two. I’m afraid pessimism may be winning.

Apparently, I’m not the only one feeling this way. Here’s an article on the worst case and best case scenarios. Read it and decide where you stand.

How One week in Quarantine has Changed Us

We are on day 7 of our self-imposed Quarantine. After a week, it’s safe to say our lives have changed a bit. Here’s what I’ve observed:

We shower less.  I used to shower every morning before work.  Since I’m not going to work, the shower can wait.  I’d say we’re showering four times a week, instead of six or seven.  Today, for example, I put on a baseball cap instead of showering.  Later, I did some work in the yard, work that required a shovel and caused some sweat.  By the time I came in, I was happy to shower.  But when you don’t leave the house, the social pressure of being clean and neat with carefully combed hair drops way down.  Thankfully, my wife married me for better or worse.

We both sleep later.  I used to go to bed between midnight and 1 a.m.  I’d get up every morning at 7:20, hop in the shower, leave the house around 8 a.m. and get to work by 8:30.  Sure, I might sleep in a bit on a weekend, or take an occasional nap, but I usually got by fine with six or seven hours of sleep.

Now I find myself staying up until 2 or ever 3 a.m. and then sleeping to 9 the next morning.  I also nap more often in the late afternoon or early evening. I truly think I would be a night owl if I didn’t watch myself, and sleep from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m.  There are days when I purposely avoid napping so that I won’t stay up too late.

My wife has always needed more sleep than I do. That’s still the case.  She goes to be several hours before me.  She’s occasionally sleeping later than normal for her but that might be because she’s been a bit under the weather.

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COVID-19 Cases Surge, but Hope is on the Horizon

I woke up this morning to learn that the authorities have now confirmed 12,392 cases of COVID-19 in the country, an increase since yesterday of 4,075, an increase of 49 percent. Today is March 20 and that number is closing in on three times the number of known cases we reported on the 17th. There are 195 known deaths, up from 147 yesterday.

The surge in numbers is attributable to two things: Increased testing and the high rate of infection in New York City.  The New York Times is reporting that the state of New York now has 4,152 cases, but the Times appear to be behind as other outlets are quoting a number in excess of 5,600.  This page from Syracuse.com gives NY-specific data and shows that out of 22,284 people tested, 5,638 have tested positive and 777 have been hospitalized.  New York city alone is home of 3,950 cases and 26 deaths, followed by cases 798 in Westchester County and 372 in Nassau, the portion of Long Island closest to the city.

Globally, Italy topped 41,000 cases and 3,400 deaths while the total confirmed cases reported by Johns Hopkins is just over 247,000.

A Possible Treatment

The biggest Coronavirus new is not the increase in cases, which to some extent is to be expected, but that an anti-malaria drug has been shown to halt progression of the disease in patients, especially when given early and in combination with the antibiotic azithromycin, (which many may be familiar with as the ingredient in a Z-pack).  A nice summary of the report is given by ZeroHedge, but I have not seen much coverage elsewhere as one would expect.

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Quarantine Day 6 – We Try Curb-Side Grocery Pickup

My wife’s health and spirits continue to improve, and she continued to rest and take it easy today.  However, we still have no pretzels, carrots, or sugar-free non-dairy creamer.  The warden, that’s me, will not let her go to the grocery store, so we tried out the local grocery store’s online shopping, which uses software from InstaCart. Normally they offer delivery, but the slots are all full, so we decide that I’ll go pick it up.

Can we live without groceries?  Certainly, but we choose not to.  I am not convinced that groceries will be as easy to come by in two or three weeks as they are today, so why not shop while we can and save our long-term preps for when we truly need them?  And curb-side pickup sounds like a decent compromise with no face-to-face interaction with potential asymptomatic carriers. 

As I explained to my daughter, I think your chance of getting COVID-19 from a living, breathing, coughing, sneezing person is much higher than getting it from an inanimate cardboard box.  To get it from the box, you’d have to touch the contaminated area and then rub your eyes, nose or mouth.  So that’s an area where proper hand-washing can help.  Having the box in a bag in your trunk isn’t something I’m going to worry about. 

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