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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Keep Safe with Self Quarantine

When I work up this morning, 2,759 people in the United States had tested positive for COVID-19, according to the New York Times. That’s a whopping 540 more than yesterday, meaning that cases are growing at a rate in excess of 24% per day.

If cases continue to grow at that rate, we’ll double our caseload every three days.  That means we’ll have more than 88,000 cases by March 30 and one million around April 10, assuming that 1) the growth rate continues and 2) there are enough test kits and necessary infrastructure to actually test that many people. it should become clear by now that a self-imposed quarantine is one of the best ways to keep safe as the coronavirus explodes across America.

If you look at the map the New York Times updates several times per day, you can watch how quickly it spreads. In some states, it doubles overnight. 

I honestly think that this growth in the number of infected will slow down somewhere between late March and early April thanks to the many closures and cancellations that have taken place in the past week.  Those numbers, which are simply a mathematical progression rather than a true estimate, assume that nothing changes.  They give us a glimpse of what things would be like if hundreds of thousands of people went to March Madness, hockey games, NBA games, the South by Southwest conference, business meetings, flew in from Europe, and took cruises, all of which is no longer possible. With most states canceling large gatherings, with businesses telling employees to work at home, and with at least 11 states and many urban school districts closing schools, the rate of infection should slow. 

Because it might take you five or more days to show symptoms, plus a couple days to find a way to get tested and wait for results, I hope we’ll see cases peak in 7 or 14 days before slowly dropping off.  This depends, however, on implementing successful social distancing and quarantines.

Which basically means: stay home, folks.  To fight this requires more than avoiding a handshake and washing your hands.  You have to avoid ALL CONTACT with the people that do not live with you.  If the government won’t shut everything down, you need to take matters into your own hands and self quarantine.

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Why are you Buying Bottled Water?

I’ve been following the Wuhan Virus for months now, and I have seen no reports stating that it affects the water supply.  So why are y’all buying up all the bottled water? 

First, you’re not going to catch the coronavirus by drinking tap water.

Second, it is extremely unlikely that the infrastructure that brings us all the miracle that is clean, water pouring out of our faucets will fail due to the virus.  Even China, with more than 80,000 cases and Italy, with more than 20,000 cases, have kept the water on.  So why do people think they need to buy bottled water?

Only reason I can think of is that its habit.  When a hurricane hits, bottled water sells out, so the non-preppers, the panic-stricken folk who react at the last minute, do what they always do and buy bottled water. 

Let me give you folks a suggestions: Buy food, because no utility is going to deliver it to your kitchen. See our list of items to stock. They don’t require refrigeration and they’ll last anywhere from six months to three or more years if you don’t need to eat them right away.

I can’t help but be amused that these same folks are buying water are buying up all the frozen food.  Doesn’t it stand to reason that if the water stops flowing, the electricity is going to have been long gone?  (Let the record show that I fully expect both to stay on for the duration of this emergency.)

These are the same people who crowd the hurricane evacuation routes at the last minute and have only a quarter tank of gas.  Then they complain that all the close nearby are booked solid.

Where’s Darwin when you need him?