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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U.S. Covid-19 Cases Grow 41 Percent Overnight

The rate of COVID-19 infection in the U.S. climbed from 5,881 to 8,317 in the past 24 hours, an increase of 2,436 or 41 percent. At that rate, infections will more than double every two days instead of every three, which is what I projected back on Sunday, March 15, when the country had only 2,759 known cases.

If this rate of growth continues and there are sufficient test kits available, we’ll reach the one million mark on April 2 instead of April 10, which is what I had projected earlier in the week.   In other words, our curve is climbing, not flattening. However, federal official still hope it will flatten in the next week or two.

According to the New York Times, at least 147 people in the US have died from COVID-19, a jump of 40 from yesterday, or 38 percent. 

Much of the surge in new cases increase is attributable to cases in New York, which reported more than 1,000 new infections, thanks largely to increased availability of testing kits.  That means the cases were there and the disease was spreading, we just didn’t have sufficient test results to show it.

What does 1,000 new infections mean?  It could mean 150 people who will need to be hospitalized, with around 60 of them needing ventilators.  It will probably lead to at least 20 deaths, possibly more.

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Coronavirus Response Halts Alcohol Sales in PA

“Despite being the Pickled Prepper, I am not that a heavy drinker,” I say with a slightly slurred voice.  “Honest.”

But I am curious why they are closing liquor stores in Pennsylvania and talking about banning the sale of alcohol in places like New Orleans.

In the interest of fairness, the New Orleans mayor later confirmed that they are not banning alcohol sales, but she has given herself the power to do so, as well as the power to ban guns.  (Add tobacco products and she’d be her own miniature BATFE.) Of course, this is the same city that confiscated weapons after Hurricane Katrina, so that shows they are untrustworthy when it comes to protecting or 2nd Amendment rights.

If there was ever a time people needed a good stiff drink, it’s probably now.  Massive changes in our daily activities; forced to distance ourselves from friends and loved ones; constant news stories about infections and death; being tuck at home with the kids off school and not allowed to leave the house.  All of those sounds like a glass of wine with dinner might be called for, if not your own personal happy hour starting, oh, maybe late afternoon. 

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Day 5 of Quarantine Brings Good News

We have some good news to report: My wife’s visit to the doctor confirmed she did not have COVID-19.  I’d like to say we’re both breathing easier, but she’s still got the asthma flare up, so while we’re both relieved, I’m the only one breathing easier.

Admittedly, she did not get a COVID-19 test, so it is still possible that she has it, but if so it is not a very bad case. Of course, it’s possible that I have it too, even though I’m exhibiting no symptoms.  The deciding factor for her doctor not testing her was apparently the lack of fever.  They are treating this as asthma aggravated by spring allergies, which in all likelihood is exactly what it is.  They gave her an inhaler, refilled another prescription, and promised to issue a quick taper of steroids without a visit if she needed it in the future. 

Of course, that meant a trip to the pharmacy and pick up her prescriptions, which is a violation of our self-imposed quarantine.  But hey, that’s what drive up windows are for.

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1400 New U.S. Coronavirus Cases in 24 Hours

The number of cases of people infected with the coronavirus in the U.S. grew by almost a third in the past 24 hours. As of this morning, there were 5,881 cases, an increase of 1,399, or just over 31 percent. At this rate, my earlier report that cases were doubling every 3 days and projection that we could reach 88,000 cases by March 30 and 1 million by April 10 is going to end up being too conservative.

I’m getting my figures from the map published by the New York Times and updated every few hours.  (Be sure to all the way scroll down for other useful charts.)  I like it better than the Johns Hopkins map, which shows global figures as well as the number of people who have recovered. 

Virus-related deaths also increased, from 86 to 107, an increase of 24 percent.  The majority remain in Washington State and are the result of infections the tore through a nursing home, but keep in mind that deaths lag reported cases.  Both New York and California are reporting deaths in the double digits.

Washington State continues to see over 100 new cases per day, and cases in New York are soaring even faster.  This seems to demonstrate that when the virus gets a grip in your town, it’s going to spread rapidly unless you take immediate measures.   

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Coughing on Day 4 of Quarantine

This morning, the New York Times chart showed 4,482 known coronavirus infections in the U.S., a jump of 880, bring us back down to a 24 percent increase. Deaths jumped from 66 to 86, an increase of 30 percent.

My wife woke up today with a gravelly voice and a mild sore throat.  She said she felt “pretty good” but not 100 percent.  She was definitely hoarse. She got some coffee. A few minutes later, she coughed.

This is pretty frightening wake up call when there’s a coronavirus outbreak. It’s made worse in our particular case because she has asthma.  In the past, she has ended up in the hospital at least twice with severe pneumonia.  She gets bronchitis pretty much every year and deals with occasional periods when she has shortness of breath.   Her asthma is generally well controlled, and she usually avoids the flu, but who knows how her lungs will react to the coronavirus?  This is one reason we’ve voluntarily quarantined ourselves.

I hop on the county health department website and look at what it takes to get a COVID-19 test around here.  Basically, you have to have the appropriate symptoms and have failed a rapid flu test.  It doesn’t say where to get either test, but there’s plenty of info on who to call if we have no insurance.  Seems to me they may have their priorities a bit backwards. Let’s get the test first and worry about how to pay for it later.

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They are not Laughing at us Anymore

I could not help but enjoy this article from the Associated Press that people who used to laugh at their prepper friends are now coming to them for advice. 

I have an old T-shirt from Ranger Up (see image above) that has a very heavily armed dude on the front. On the back it reads: The hardest thing about the zombie apocalypse will be pretending I’m not excited.

I won’t go so far as to say I’m  excited that we’re experiencing just a taste of an end of the world as we know it scenario, but I can’t help but feel a bit vindicated!

Hey, it could be Worse

As I commented over at SurvialBlog.com on March 12, things could be worse.  We expect the power to stay on, and that’s really a HUGE difference between a pandemic that kills people versus a nuclear war, a large asteroid impact, the Yellowstone Caldera blowing sky high, or another massive world-changing disaster.  When the disease is over – and no one doubts that it will end – then we’ll get on with our lives and we’ll still have all the benefits of modern society.   It may take a few months to restart everything, to get the just-in-time supply chain functioning again and refill the empty store shelves with electronics and clothing from China, but we’ll have the technology, the infrastructure, and the know-how. 

Many of us have prepped to grow our own foods, tan our own leather, harvest our own firewood for heat, and be as self-reliant as possible.  Sure, we stock supplies, but we also have the tools and hopefully the knowledge to provide for our own needs.  For example, I know preppers who own a forge and have blacksmithing skills, or who make black powder and cast their own lead balls for when their modern cartridges run out.  I doubt we’ll need these preps this time around, and we should be thankful.

In the meantime, it sure feels good to have all that food, medical supplies, and paper products in our cache.

Day 3 of Quarantine and We’re Bored Already

This morning, the New York Times reports that there are 3,602 known cases of COVID-19 in the United States. That represents an increase of 843 from yesterday’s report, a growth rate of 30%. I suspect the increase in the growth rate is likely a result of greater availability of test kits. New York State has now eclipsed Washington and has the most reported cases at 732. However Washington still has the most deaths at 42 out of a national total of at least 66.

We’re well into day 3 of our self-imposed quarantine and my wife is getting restless.  She’s bored and maybe a little cranky.  Part of this is that she’s not used to having me home and underfoot. (I’m trying to stay out of her way.)  Part of it is that she usually has meetings and other activities that take her out of the house several days a week. Attending church online is not the same as doing to so in person.

She also wishes she had done a better job menu planning and had stocked more “snacks.”  We are running low on fresh carrots, but I think she probably means junk food, like pretzels.  My guess is that this is compounded by her having given up chocolate for Lent.  (Sometimes, knowing you can’t have something just makes you want it more.)

I’ve been preparing for some kind of massive disruption for years, so we have huge amounts of long term storage food tucked away.  I’ve also been aware of the novel coronavirus that erupted in Wuhan China for a good two months.  That’s allowed me to prep some additional short-term storage foods.  For example, I have 12 boxes of crackers in our pantry that I picked up from Costco in mid-February simply because I like crackers.  I like them with my soup, with a piece of cheese, or with a dab of peanut butter.  In our house, my love of crackers is a running joke. Although I discussed our short-term needs with my wife and shared a list with her, she apparently didn’t get her equivalent of crackers.

I suggested we break out the flour and bake some pretzels. It didn’t go over well.

Lesson learned: Stock more snacks for the apocalypse.

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