Coronavirus: To Prep or Not To Prep

Readers are showing understandable concern about the progress of the coronavirus, particularly given the combination of the the CDC warning that community spread was a given shortly before a confirmed case with no known vector to China was announced in California. Trump’s response was to make Mike Pence his coronavirus czar.

Perhaps Trump secretly believes in faith healing?

Needless to say, it is not terribly cheery to know so little about the transmission mechanism of the coronavirus and to be uncertain as to how contagious and lethal it is. As readers no doubt appreciate, only a subset of people with symptoms in China and even abroad are being tested, and individuals have tested negative, some repeatedly, only to test positive later.

It is also not terribly cheery to find out that the CDC as of two days ago had dispatched 37% of its 1,336 staff members tasked to coronavirus, to 39 US and international locations for coronavirus response. This is not a very large number. And as of February 23, all of 439 individuals had been tested, with 11% of the results not yet in. But as readers have pointed out, the huge cost of getting tested via an ER, which is how most Americans would normally go first, is a huge deterrent. So our terrible health system guarantees that we will have incomplete data on disease progress (ie, patients are likely not to get tested until they are very sick, so those with mild cases could continue spreading the coronavirus).

Now it may prove that the coronavirus is less deadly in populations that don’t smoke as heavily as Chinese men do, and that have less exposure to air pollution. But even in that case, it is still just about certain to have a mortality rate way way above that of seasonal flus.

However, one unnoticed bit of good news is Thailand. Recall Thailand was early to report contagion from China. Yet even with three new cases, all people returning from Japan, it has had only 40 cases and no deaths, which seems a low number given the density of Bankgkok. And there have been no deaths and no “community transmission,” unlike in the US.

However, Thailand also has a good public health system, unlike the US. But most of Thailand is also very hot. The average temperature range for Bangkok in January is a low of 72° and a high of 90°, and in February, 76°
to 92°. So there may be reason to hope the transmission rate slows when summer arrives.

There is plenty to focus the mind, but let’s serve up two examples. One is Nouriel Roubini, one of the few economists to foresee the 2007-2008 unraveling. From the Financial Times in Markets are too complacent about coronavirus despite sell-off:

It is becoming clear that this is a global pandemic rather than a China-focused epidemic. And we do not know yet how many other countries in Asia and other parts of the world will experience a severe outbreak — most likely many more.

The view that the economic impact will peak before the end of the first quarter now looks very shaky. The damage to China is severe, and global supply chains are being seriously disrupted, at a time when China accounts for about 20 per cent of global gross domestic product, not the tiny 4 per cent it had at the time of Sars in 2003. Add to that an economic shock to big economies like Japan, South Korea and Italy. When the disease spreads to other developed and emerging markets, this damage will increase.

Global business confidence will soften, too. Last year, companies’ capital expenditure dropped as executives waited for the risks of a US-China trade war and a hard Brexit to pass. With those tail risks partially clearing, capex will be pushed back further because of the incentive to wait and see how severe and widespread the virus will be.

Soon enough, headlines will also dent consumer confidence. Even in the US where the contagion is so far limited, events are being cancelled and consumers are starting to prefer to stay home rather than go out. This is mild compared to what would happen if contagion truly hits the US, which is likely given the long latency of the disease.

Dr. Doom is looking at only the macro impact, which looks bad enough. But given that many businesses have over-optimized for efficiency, with just-in-time manufacturing a classic example, there is also an unknowable amount of “tight coupling,” as in problems or destabilization will propagate through a system, with no circuit breakers to halt the process. The FDA has already warned of 150 medications from China that could wind up in short supply. How many might be added if diminished production in and container traffic from China continues well into the second quarter? And other important products, such as Vitamin C, come almost entirely from China.

Another issue is being caught in a lockdown area. SBS files a report from Australians in Italy (hat tip Kevin W):

More than 370 coronavirus cases have been detected in the northern Lombardy and Veneto regions and 12 people have died….

Authorities have so far put at least 11 towns in complete lockdown and children across the region have been sent home from school. In Lombardy’s capital Milan, a number of high profile events, including fashion shows and football games, have been disrupted and residents have been urged to remain indoors as much as possible….

Ms [Bianca] Lentini, 30 [in Milan], is one of many teachers currently unable to go to work due to a week-long school shutdown. She said she was aware the closure could be extended into next week and even possibly into March.

“There is a quietness in the city, Chinese restaurants, museums, cinemas, galleries, everything is closed at the moment,” she said, months after she moved to the city in September.

“It is a little nerve-wracking, the uncertainty over how bad the situation is now – is it going to escalate? We are in a moment of suspense at this point in time, just taking it day by day.”

Empty shelves in a supermarket in Milan.
SBS Italian

…..Residents within the identified area are being prevented from travelling outside the zone, with roadblocks in place on the outskirts of the towns….

Mr [Nicolas] Musto, who moved to Italy a year ago to work as an assistant English teacher, is currently living in a small town called Capriolo in the province of Brescia – about 90 minute’s drive from locked-down Codogno.

“I’m pretty sure the entire northern Italy has been affected,” he said.

“I went to the shops yesterday … and there were some entire shelves just emptied of milk or bread or pasta or whatever it may be. It feels like it’s a bit of an apocalypse era.”

Yves here. This is a long-winded introduction to an issue readers have been kicking around in comments: what are they doing to reduce their risk of exposure? And what other measures are they taking?

The example of Italy demonstrates how rapidly the contagion can spread and how quickly basic features of daily life become upended.

It also demonstrates that people are more likely to suffer collateral damage from the coronavirus, by being caught in a lockdown, by having their income suffer due to lockdowns, supply chain disruption, or other precautions. For instance, conferences seem to be imploding; one wonder when if and when people will start cutting back on non-essential domestic travel.

We’ve already pointed out the risk of medicine shortages. Readers have said MRE kits are sold out in US and Canadian online stores (but these are a staple of preppers and it’s easy to see them adding to their stockpiles). Masks are also getting to be in short supply.

But this conflates two issues: what level of hoarding makes sense for such a difficult to assess risk as being locked down? It’s the classic fat tail: the odds aren’t high, but the consequences are pretty bad. And one has no idea how long it might persist if it were to occur.

If you read the SBS article carefully, you’ll note stores near but not in the lockdown area were also cleaned out. Residents no doubt worried the cordon might be extended to include their town and acted accordingly.

This risk raises additional imponderables in the US. For instance, what if parts of California become locked down? Would the ripple effects include truckers being reluctant to risk infection to haul produce out? You could see the perverse effect of a fruit and veg glut in California and the rest of the US eating more rice and beans.

So I am asking you to parse out: what if anything are you going to prepare for possible coronavirus disruption, and what if any anti-infection practices are you taking?

I’ll natter on a bit on my situation.

Coronavirus disruption. individuals have wildly different profiles as to their personal scarcity and excesses. Were I still in New York, I would have very little storage space even if I wanted to stock up. Here, we have two refrigerators and a refrigerator-sized freezer, so I am putting some things away. But the idea of not having fresh vegetables bugs me. Frozen fruit is a no-brainer, especially berries. Frozen spinach is fine and if I can find time, I have a very easy cooked kale dish and I can put a lot of that away. But I have to do the evening meal for my mother and I pointedly avoid real cooking since I’ve never done that and do not have time to learn now (grilled meat, a very simple chicken dish, or scallops are as far as I go; I’d cook fish but forget about finding decent fresh fish in the grocers, along with some steamed fresh veg and maybe some sweet potato is as far as I go).

She does love butter so I am going very long butter and I may have to figure out how to do something with canned tomatoes if we get stuck. Maybe dried or canned mushrooms too.

Please don’t say rice and beans; I don’t have time to cook beans and my mother wouldn’t eat them. I am getting lots of steel cut oatmeal and grits (she might eat grits with enough butter and cheese) and have found a black bean soup she deems OK. I should probably buy pre-peeled garlic since that will keep and some onions even though that will last only so long. I’m not sure how many pounds of meat and chicken to buy (for her; I would be happy eating tofu and canned fish and just got a lot of the latter). And of course lots of sweet potatoes.

Oh, plus hopefully enough alcohol and some desserts to freeze and dark chocolate. And plenty of my mother’s breakfast breads. And I need to check our spice inventories and also get some of those normally-useful-only-in-a- pinch lime and lemon juices (the kind in those environmentally nasty fruit-shaped plastic dispensers).

My father did have a garden in our back yard and my mother though of having the yardman revive that, but is there any produce that will get well being tended only a day a week? I don’t have the time, joints, or know how to garden.

And regarding meds, you’d think I could advance buy for a 92 year old woman. Nope, her Medicare Advantage plan very much limits stocking up (I am trying to get the attention of her doctor with no luck so far). By contrast, I can buy the entire amount my MD prescribes when the scrip goes to the pharmacy (as in all refills up front). But I do have a ginormous amount of dietary supplements on hand.

Any other suggestions, recognizing the key boundary condition that I do not have the time or interest to learn how to cook?

Minimizing infection risk. Honestly, I am not sure there is much that can be done beyond relentless hand hygiene and reducing contact versus a hazmat suit.

One reader gave a very useful pointer: 70% alcohol is apparently better for killing microbes and viruses than 90+%. I have taken to being the crazy person at the gym and wipe down the dumbbells and all equipment handles and grips before I use them. I also wipe down the handles of shopping carts and took up clarky90’s idea of putting my hands in thin plastic veggie bags when I need to put my hands on things in the store and deal with checkout equipment. It ought to be effective and doesn’t lead to too many odd looks.

I am skeptical re retail-grade hand sanitizers and the authorities seem to agree:

Outside the health care setting evidence to support the use of hand sanitizer over hand washing is poor…Alcohol-based hand sanitizer is recommended only if soap and water are not available

I am very skeptical about masks. The ones that work (n95 respirators) take training to put on properly. When they are on correctly, they are so difficult to breathe through that doctors say they need to take a break every half hour or so, they start getting panicky about the effort.

So even if you can procure one and wear it correctly, I would reserve its use for real high risk situations, like going to a place where you have good reason to worry about exposure and will be in close quarters, like a doctor’s office.

One good bit of news is children aren’t vectors for this disease, so being around them and teachers isn’t all that hazardous. However, I have a problem here I can’t readily solve, in that my mother has home health care aides that come in ever day. I’m not around to see how often they wash their hands; they are supposed to when they come in and I put up a sign to that effect, but do they after running errands too? I have no way of knowing.

The other 19th century health method is airing out your quarters regularly. And stay well rested.

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  1. Isotope_C14

    Here in Berlin, I’ve been going out every night and getting cans of linsensuppe (lentil soup) in the big cans. Got enough TP for 3 months (I don’t use much as I live alone), and probably have enough food for a good 2 weeks. My concern isn’t exactly “prepping” but being able to self-quarantine if need be for at least 2 weeks. Going to get the last of the items tonight and hopefully spend my time on Twitter bumping the socialist down-ballot candidates.

    Hope everyone can dodge this disease, and hopefully everyone will make the case to their neighbors that epidemiology should be invested in heavily for these rare, but crucial times, where investment in early detection pays off globally.

    Medicare for All!

    1. Anthony G Stegman

      Bernie Sanders is deemed too radical for mainstream Democrats – they point to his push for Medicare for all. It is all so very foolish. The coronavirus pandemic is prima facie evidence for the need for cradle to grave health care. The existing system needs to scrapped, not merely tweaked, regardless of whether you do or don’t like your health coverage. “Pragmatic solutions” are the wrong solutions for these times.

  2. PlutoniumKun

    Just a point in Thailand – in todays Peak Prosperity youtube posting (a very useful source I find), they are strongly suggesting that the Thais have been suppressing information about a significant outbreak. This doesn’t surprise me, the Thais have a history of simply not reporting or admitting to anything that would interfere with their tourism industry. They didn’t even shut off flights to Wuhan. And much of Thailand is not super hot or humid this time of year, its quite temperate on some coasts and can be cool and chilly in the northern uplands, where many people (domestic and foreign) take breaks this time of year. There are reports that many Chinese are using BKK as a route to bypass restrictions elsewhere. Thailand also has a huge medical tourism industry – lots of worried rich Chinese will go there for treatment. It would be hugely surprising if Thailand wasn’t seriously effected. As PP points out, varous countries have been restricting flights from Thailand, which strongly suggests that they’ve had their own suspicions.

    As for me – well, this weekend I’m hiring a car to stock up on dried goods and essentials) (I simply can’t carry enough beer for a month on my bike). I’m following the Singapore government guidance, they seem to be the most open and scientifically precise.

    In terms of food, my understanding is that for a virus, maintaining a high calorie diet and nourishment seems important (the old advice of ‘starve a fever, feed a cold’ (cold =virus) seems to be scientifically justifed. So I’ll have a stock of energy drinks/gels and electrolytes along with my lentils and beans.

    I’m on the management committee of my apartment building (85 units). I’ll be organising two things:

    1. For every block to have volunteers doing daily scrubbing of ‘contact points’ with an alcohol based cleanser.
    2. A private contact number for anyone undergoing voluntary quarantine – hopefully I’ll be able to get a list of volunteers to do things like collecting food deliveries at the entrance, doing food runs if necessary.
    3. Our janitor has suggested purchasing a flame thrower, but we’ll keep that one on advisory for now.

    My employer is doing precisely nothing – and my office is in the heart of the main Chinese area of my city (locals joke that the first outbreak will either be here or in the main Louis Vuitton outlet on the other side of town). I’ve started queries through management and my union about protection and home working, I’m expecting a considered response sometime in 2021.

    1. The Pale Scot

      daily scrubbing of ‘contact points’ with an alcohol based cleanser.

      People don’t like to use it because of the smell, but a bleach solution is the way to go on surfaces. Nobody has done the experiment with the Corona virus yet. During the Ebola outbreak in central Africa, buckets of solution were put out at doorways for people to wash their hands. CL is a muck stronger oxidizer than oxygen.

      I am not suggesting drinking the stuff.

      1. divadab

        Bleach yes – how about hydrogen peroxide as a less-irritating option? It also kills viruses, bacteria, and fungi.

        Carbolic acid also works – my Mom says that general OR sanitation was better in the forties because of pre-antibiotic practices being continued. She says operating rooms were scrubbed with carbolic acid, and that she thinks current sanitary practices are far less stringent since the medical profession now relies much more on anitbiotics. She was quite distressed at how dirty the operating room was when my Dad had surgery.

      2. Kurtismayfield

        A quick trip for sterilizing surfaces.. vinegar or ten percent bleach. Leave it on for 30 minutes, and it kills everything. Vinegar is cheap.. and kills bacteria, viruses, and spores. 10% bleach has been shown to kill HIV and Hept.

        1. Titus

          HIV does not survive contact with the air and it only lives for a few seconds on other mediums. Generally with HIV, blood needs to be involved. Vaccines exist for hepatitis B & C. I’d recommend both. To make a disinfectant solution with bleach, mix 1/4 cup of bleach in a gallon of water. Beware !! Bleach must to used in a very clean container any organic material mixed in with reduces its effectiveness. Second to kill viruses- bleach takes about 60 minutes. Chlorine is pretty toxic in the environment and on people. Alcohol deployed by a sprayer under a surface is saturated is much safer and works just as well.

      3. Turing Test

        The effectiveness of bleach in killing COVID-19 hasn’t been established, but it’s cheap, readily available, and presumably can’t do any harm. It can also be used to disinfect water, though hopefully things won’t go that far.

        As all good preppers know you can make your own bleach solution with pool shock (calcium hypochlorite). Instructions are readily available online. This is more space efficient if that is an issue and stored bleach loses potency over time so it’s better to prepare it shortly before you intend to use it.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          You need to let the bleach have contact for ten minutes at a bare minimum, see above. I doubt anyone does that. Alcohol kills viruses way faster. And it does work against coronaviruses:

          Alcohol has also been shown to be effective in disinfecting surfaces contaminated with pandemic viruses such as Ebola and SARS Coronavirus and has some activity against Norovirus.

          Bleach isn’t used as a disinfectant because it has so many health risks. Look at the NIH warning:

          To prepare and use diluted bleach:

          use a mask, rubber gloves and waterproof apron; goggles also are recommended to protect the eyes from splashes;
          mix and use bleach solutions in well-ventilated areas;
          mix bleach with cold water (hot water decomposes the sodium hypochlorite and renders it ineffective);

          if using bleach containing 5% sodium hypochlorite, dilute it to 0.05%, as shown in Table G.1 below.

      4. Yves Smith Post author

        60-70% alcohol kills viruses. Bleach might be better for general cleaning but alcohol if you let it sit long enough does the trick.

        Isopropyl alcohol, particularly in solutions between 60% and 90% alcohol with 10 – 40% purified water, is rapidly antimicrobial against bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Once alcohol concentrations drop below 50%, usefulness for disinfection drops sharply. Notably, higher concentrations of alcohol don’t generate more desirable bactericidal, virucidal, or fungicidal properties.

        The presence of water is a crucial factor in destroying or inhibiting the growth of pathogenic microorganisms with isopropyl alcohol. Water acts as a catalyst and plays a key role in denaturing the proteins of vegetative cell membranes. 70% IPA solutions penetrate the cell wall more completely which permeates the entire cell, coagulates all proteins, and therefore the microorganism dies. Extra water content slows evaporation, therefore increasing surface contact time and enhancing effectiveness. Isopropyl alcohol concentrations over 91% coagulate proteins instantly. Consequently, a protective layer is created which protects other proteins from further coagulation.

        Ethyl alcohol even better than IPA.

        Bleach takes WAY LONGER contact time to kill pathogens

        Bleach is a strong and effective disinfectant – its active ingredient sodium hypochlorite is effective in killing bacteria, fungi and viruses, including influenza virus – but it is easily inactivated by organic material. Diluted household bleach disinfects within 10–60 minutes contact time (see Table G.1 below for concentrations and contact times), is widely available at a low cost, and is recommended for surface disinfection in health-care facilities. However, bleach irritates mucous membranes, the skin and the airways; decomposes under heat and light; and reacts easily with other chemicals. Therefore, bleach should be used with caution; ventilation should be adequate and consistent with relevant occupational health and safety guidance. Improper use of bleach, including deviation from recommended dilutions (either stronger or weaker), may reduce its effectiveness for disinfection and can injure health-care workers.

        1. Robert

          What about drinking a shot of whisky , cognac , Grappa , etc that are 40% -60% alcohol ? Do they kill germs inside the respiratory tract ?

    2. Ignacio

      This was a call for a rant, but not without first giving thanks for the Peak Prosperity advice. First China where Mr. Xi Jinping, who per Bloomberg, voices the advantages of a strong (autocratic) central government but in reality has been a disaster on epidemics management rapidly turning pandemics. Those supposed advantages are based on its superior ability to control the disease but Xi Jinping hasn’t controlled anything and let the disease spread from the very beginning only to later start a demented quarantine program that has almost certainly done more harm than good, except for the reduction on greenhouse emissions. Instead of closing the country to foreigners he’d better, from the very beginning, invite foreign experts to help study the disease, its epidemiological traits (still little is known) and the clinical properties of Covid-19 with full cooperation and transparency. Instead, we had secretiveness, playing the ostrich, and harsh treatments directed to a frightened populace. Jinping, if anyone had doubts before, has shown to be a leader to distrust. Incapable, egocentric and something more not proper for a family blog. Globalization should be built in trust and these epidemics have been a definitive signal of its absence. To be sure, Jinping has not been the only international leader to try to hide the facts and we could include as liars almost all Southeaster Asia governments. The WHO has played a sad yes-men role with Jinping when it should have been more critical and have pushed for stronger cooperation. International organizations of all kinds look rotten.
      Then we have the John Hopkins Institute whose effort to keep information available, though laudable, has IMO been, unwittingly, the origin of excessive complacency about the outbreak: if you publish bogus data the result is bogus. I believe it helped to give the false impression that these epidemics could be controlled.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        You make an excellent point about the JHA website. I’m amazed at how rapidly it has become everyones ‘go to’ source of information. This is great of course if the information is accurate, but in reality it may well have become a useful tool for China (and possibly others such as Iran) to spread a false picture of how the disease is spreading.

        I’m amazed at how many questionable assertions I’ve heard from ‘experts’, who have based their analysis on data which may have very hollow foundations (and yes, I know that when I question experts I’m in danger of wandering into tin hat territory, but I do think its a legitimate worry).

        1. Ignacio

          At least it was somehow informative. Specifically the slow leak of cases in Japan as well as Singapore, South Korea and Thailand was a warning signal IMO.

        2. Ignacio

          Trying to avoid contagion or at least avoid exposure to high virus loads is the first to think about but what if you become infected? How to avoid becoming seriously ill?

          1) Try to be in good shape physically that will be paralleled with a strong immune system. Eat well, varied stuff, increase vegetables and fruits. Do some exercise, not too exhausting. Walk, run, cycle but avoiding gyms I guess, so many fomites in there! Or at least clean by yourself everything before starting exercises. Sleep well. Drink a lot of water, some extra VitC, Keep your nose/mouth well hydrated. I do nose washes before sleeping this helps to drain not just mucus but contamination ask for medical advice on this I am not a physician.

          2) My god! I have some fever and already have a cough! OK. Keep calm and drink lots of water. Use a thicker pillow or two pillows to help nasopharyngeal drainage by night that may help to avoid it passing to the lower respiratory tract. Do not touch everybody. Keep… not INCREASE hygiene, your room tidy and well ventilated clean all surfaces you touch. Some deep breathing exercises can also help. Ask your physician for advice.

          This was supposed not as a reply here but at the end of the thread.

          1. campbeln

            > I do nose washes before sleeping

            I, too, am not a physician but take care to HYDRATE rather than REMOVE the mucus from the membrane. The healthy thin layer is there to protect us so removing it via a “too aggressive” (whatever that happens to be) wash would be counterproductive at best.

    3. Oregoncharles

      Easy, simple “flame thrower:” Alcohol in a squirt bottle/atomizer, and a lighter. My son has had a lot of fun with this arrangement – alcohol burns pretty cool, so unlikely to start a fire short of paper. Or, of course, a pipe lighter, with a much larger flame.

      Beyond that, best bet would be a “flame weeder”, used in the garden, which uses propane. Be more careful with that one – it could burn th eplace down.

  3. Lina

    It’s a nerve wracking situation. My partner works in a university and he said they announced that they will close down if the infection hits the school (or nearby, I hope??). They said “safety before economics”. Not sure if that’s all talk; hoping it’s indeed true. I will be emailing the superintendent of our elementary school (where my daughter attends) to find out their protocol. Though, I don’t have much hope to hear more than the pat answer – we will follow infectious disease protocol, etc. etc. As I mentioned in another post, my concern is competence. People are incompetent in the best of times, in my observation. I’ll take decisions into my own hand, for sure.

    But in any event, I am mostly stocked up for a quarantine. I didn’t plan for loss of electricity, etc. any more than what would happen should we have a weather related outage, but I do have loads of meds, food, drinks, cleaning supplies, etc. And I will start to air out my house every few days after spraying it down with lysol as a new precaution (in addition to the regular disinfecting I do almost daily – doorknobs, etc).

      1. Pym of Nantucket

        I was in an extended blackout in Ontario in the 90s. Be sure your combustion products can leave any enclosed space. Generators, BBQs and camp stoves indoors were the biggest killer.

    1. Wukchumni

      Candles have their use, but led lights are pretty sweet. We have a number of Ryobi 18 & 40 volt battery powered tools and multiples of batteries as backup. The area light lantern casts quite a bit and an 18v battery will last a fair amount of time.

      Around $30

    2. Anon

      Here’s a link to back-up electricity:

      It is a foldable, 200W PV panel that will allow you to keep your cell phone and other low-power devices charged if the electric grid goes down.

  4. Phillip Allen

    On the garden question: Yes, it is absolutely a good idea to revive your kitchen garden. Once-a-week maintenance should be fine. You may need to have a sprinkler set up so you can simply turn it on in dry spells. Lettuces, kales, other leafy veg, beans, melons, squash, radishes, beets — so many will grow with very little attention and harvesting is not terribly taxing. You don’t need a large garden to feed two people. You’re well sited to grow your own sweet potatoes, too. Your yardman can handle the harvesting of these and any other root vegetables. No matter what comes, virus-wise, you will have the enormous pleasure of stepping out to your garden of an evening and coming back with salad and fresh veg for steaming.

    (And don’t forget to have some flowers planted, too, to gladden the table and nightstand.)

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Oh, that is excellent news. My father would putter in that garden every day but I infer that was just spreading the work out.

      Plus some of those fresh veggies put store bought to shame. Particularly broccoli. And I like greens, so being assured of salad material is a plus.

      1. upstater

        The key for Southern gardens is mulch, mulch, mulch. It gets very hot and dry before thunderstorms later in summer. A fabric weed barrier mulch with an organic layer on top for esthetics. When I helped my elderly mom with her kitchen garden in Louisiana, she’d have all the tomatoes, peppers and eggplants she needed from 2-3 plants each from May through October. Leafy crops were difficult, if not impossible to grow because of pests.

        My seeds were ordered before the pandemic warnings, but we don’t even start seeds until next month.

        1. Charlotte

          I’m much further north, but I use a layer of newsprint to block light germination of weed seeds, then cover with straw mulch to keep in moisture. We have very very little atmospheric humidity in the summer, and it helps. The other great thing about mulch is it keeps down weeds, which makes maintenence much easier.
          Sweet potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, collards, squash should all pretty much take care of themselves in the south. And you can always do lettuces in boxes or planters if slugs are an issue.
          Freezing your own produce is also not hard, and makes for a nice change in the dead of winter. If you search my mostly-dormant blog: you should be able to find several posts on freezing my own veg.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          My father had leaf lettuce, kale, and spinach, all successfully. But Birmingham isn’t typical south. 600 feet, iron in the soil. Back in the day, every year, my father would go with the yardman and get a pickup truck of “zoo doo” and work it into the soil. The zoo no longer does that.

          It’s been 14 years since he tended that garden so I hope the soil is still in good shape.

          Any more advice re what to do now?

          1. petal

            I don’t know if it is available down there, but here in NH we have this stuff called MooDoo-it is composted cow manure. It comes in bags. Our community garden has a lot of clay in the soil, so when you start gardening there, an annual task is improving the soil of your plot. One year, we used funds to buy everyone 2 bags of it. Some people sprinkled it on top, some turn it in.

            Here is a link from the Alabama Cooperative Extension. Cooperative Extensions tend to have good information for gardeners, and they also have the Master Gardener program you can contact.
            Alabama Gardening Basics I hope it will be helpful.

        3. Titus

          I respectfully disagree, mulch is fine, but fabric weed barriers are terrible for soil health. Ive torn out thousands of square feet of the stuff. The garden functions more then the sum of its parts. The soil life is the most important part of any garden.

      2. Rob Dunford

        Yves, I know you said your mum cannot eat beans etc. But her in the UK (and maybe USA) we have packs of pearl barley/pea mix that will bulk out any stew. Plus mixing barley proteins with pulse proteins gives a more complete set of amino acids (don’t quote me though!)
        I have one pack and intend to buy several more.
        Frozen spinach sounds a great source of greens.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          I recently discovered using bean flour to thicken soups. I found some fava bean flour in a local Latino market and picked up a bag on a whim. I like beans though. That said I think the bean flour not only thickened the soup but added to its flavor. Fine ground grits is also good and complements the bean flour.

          1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield

            Red lentils are a great thickener for soups, especially those made with a mix of vegetables (some combination of carrots, potatoes, beets, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, pumpkin, with onions, garlic, and ginger). The red lentils get soft, and the whole mess can be thinned with yoghurt and mixed with a blender, stick or freestanding). Delicious hot or cold.

            1. Oregoncharles

              We use red lentils as a base for curries. They come out yellow, so the right color, and make a paste that is compatible with most anything. I think they and rice make a complete protein, too.

      3. jefemt

        You might also be able to find a labor source by share-cropping with someone who doesn’t have a garden space but that would love one and has gardening experience.

        You dad may well have been out there every day for the zen of it. Its apparently as addictive as crack, or running, or fly-fishing– depending on what makes your socks go up and down. Look at them socks!

        I have to say reading this one got mem more than a little blue. I wish you, your mom, and all of us here and everywhere some peace and grace.

      4. clarky90

        Sprouting mung beans, alfalpha, chick peas… et al, will give a constant supply of fresh greens. Initially, pour boiling hot water over the mung beans to get them to all “wake up” at the same time. Then rinse a few times a day. A few table spoon of dry mung beans results in litres of fresh veg! Bulk mung beans take up little space, are cheap and last a very long time.

      5. John Zelnicker

        @Yves Smith
        February 27, 2020 at 7:18 am

        Here in Mobile, my mother had a 10×10 ft. French postage stamp garden and grew more vegetables than she and my father could eat. She gave the excess to the neighbors.

        There were three or four stalks of Silver Queen corn, some of the best I’ve ever tasted, climbing beans and peas, and several different vegetables. She couldn’t put a lot of effort in the garden as she was being treated for cancer (ultimately unsuccessfully) but it thrived nevertheless.

        It might be worth your while to spend 10-15 minutes looking into the French garden techniques to see if they might be useful to you.

        My mother also planted marigolds around the perimeter. Apparently they keep various bugs and pests away from the veggies.

        As for me, I’m going to stock up on ingredients for the 4 or 5 dishes I can cook reasonably well. Mostly canned goods, rice, pasta, and meat I can freeze.

        I don’t go out much so I’m not too worried about exposure, but I am keeping my office and desk as clean as possible for my clients.

    2. carl

      Exactly so. You’re in a southern zone where you can grow things throughout the winter and spring. Although it may seem daunting, most plants grow without a lot of attention. I found this out myself last year when I started my first backyard garden. I had tomatoes, peppers and basil all summer long, and my winter garden has three kinds of kale, spinach, carrots, broccoli,cauliflower and cabbage. None of it required more than a little watering/weeding, and if it had, it would have failed (I was traveling for the entire month of January). Other than that, if you don’t like rice and beans, maybe pasta?

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I actually like beans, particularly chickpeas and black beans, and lentils. It’s my mother who is fussy. She’ll eat a good black bean soup, but one excellent mix (the beans + a spice pack, I’d tart it up minimally) is no longer available. I’m told just blenderizing cooked black beans and a good salsa works, but I’d have to figure out the ratios (and how much stock to add). She will eat split pea soup.

    3. Adam1

      Just to add on… since feeding 2 doesn’t require much of a garden container gardening might also be of value. It would reduce weeding demands and if you have a sunny porch or patio it puts your garden that much closer to the house. With that said it likely will need more watering as potted/container plants loose moisture faster.

      1. Ignacio

        With pieces of garlic, onion and celery please. Thyme is IMO excellent in any tomato sauce. Or simply in a tomato salad: tomato in pieces, olive oil, some salt, thyme and a few slices of onion. Easy and simple. A summer must. Excellent also combined with tuna fish and/or avocado and/or hard-boiled eggs. An alternative is the same tomato salad with boiled potatoes cut in slices and green pepper in slices. We call that a “country-side salad”.

        1. clarky90

          A trick I learned from some very Chinese friends. Get a saucer with water in it. Place an entire bulb of garlic (30ish cloves) root side down in the shallow water. Put on window sill and replensh water as needed. The bulb of garlic must be viable (farmers market or locally grown- not treated or irradiated). After a few days, the individual cloves begin to sprout. Just keep lightly trimming the garlic grass (garlic chives) as needed.

          Beautiful to watch growing, for all the keen gardeners out there.

    4. PlutoniumKun

      For those without a garden, you just need some jars and seeds to keep yourself going with a good handful of green shoots daily.

    5. tegnost

      yes, growing lettuce is easy and productive, especially in the cooler shoulder seasons such as now, and I’ve switched to canned tomatoes for salads, more flavor than those hydroponics in the produce section

  5. Anon

    Just saying that if you have a slow cooker or instant pot, start using it; either can prepare meals while you do other things. Also, slow cookers are being resold cheap.

    One last thing: is cheap vodka going for less than isopropyl alcohol? I remember Miss Joan Rivers carried a spray bottle of it, for her hotel and dressing rooms….

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Thanks but I don’t have one and figuring out and organizing what to put into it qualifies as cooking. You have no idea how chronically time stressed I am. Even finding and procuring a cooker takes time I don’t have. 10 minutes is a lot of time for me. The sun is coming up now and I have been up all night.

      1. Monty

        I am buying Campbells Chunky from the soup isle. It looks like the stuff I have made in a slow cooker. Visible pieces of meat and vegetables in a sauce. Many flavours, long shelf life, easy to stack and store.

        Available for home delivery via Amazon Fresh

      2. spro

        Instant Pot.


        And you’re done. You can throw anything in it (sweet potatoes, rice, meat, etc. anything), press one button (Manual) and adjust the time. You can even take a guess on the timing (4 min for rice, 8-30 minutes for meats/potatoes/stews usually, + a 0-10 minute pressure release), but the internet has recommended times for anything you can think of. The time saved cooking will balance out the time figuring out what to put in it. It is *well* worth it, and I am confident other readers will agree. No need to watch a boiling pot or worry about overcooking – it kicks into “Keep Warm” when it’s done.

        Bought one 7 years ago and have used it 2x weekly at minimum.

        1. hemeantwell

          Meals are easy to put together and the margin of error is large. Lots of recipes out there.

          Steel cut oats? 2.5 cups of water, 1 cup of oats, salt as preferred, hit the Multigrain button and then let it sit for 5 minutes after the cycle is done.

      3. Susan the other

        Green tea; apple cider vinegar/honey, dark chocolate, raw almonds, russet potatoes (yes sweet potatoes but they don’t store so buy frozen or freeze), carrots keep, so does cabbage; sauerkraut if you like it; multi vitamin-mineral and Emercen-C packets. About vitamin C – it’s back on everybody’s list. 1000 mg a day is fine – and Linus Pauling was right about its curative aspects as hospitals are now giving it in IV treatments and it’s very effective against various pneumonias and other infections. So stock up on vitamin C and don’t forget your D3. Sriracha is probably a good bet. And also too don’t forget toilet paper ;-).

        1. PlutoniumKun

          I’d echo all those, but also add brewers yeast and its varients. There is solid evidence that it may stimulate your bodies anti-viral defenses. I use it to make nut butter.

      4. clarky90

        Saturated fats: like butter, coconut oil, palm oil, lard, beef drippings are the densest forms of energy/food. Pemican, which is dried meat preserved in fat, has sustained indiginous peoples during lean times or when on the move. FI, boiled rice with slatherings of butter is filling, delicious, nutritious and, quick and easy…

        1. clarky90

          The saturated fats do not oxidize easily so last a long time without refrigeration. Buy/make ghee (just clarified butter) to keep butter unrefrigerated.

    2. urblintz

      a comment in yesterday’s water cooler suggested everclear as an alternative to isopropyl. Haven’t bought everclear since forever so I have no idea about cost differentials. But as it can do double duty in a pinch I think I might get a gallon, lol!

  6. Bugs Bunny

    Regarding the heat-transmission relationship, I see that India has only had 3 cases, all of them recovered.

    Note that India will only get hotter over the next 2 months and might be a good bellwether.

    Caveat: not sure how much we can rely on the central gov’t reporting but some state gov’ts are very competent.

    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield

      Re competence: Particularly Kerala, which is known to have a decent public health system.

  7. Paul O

    Prepping – in the sense of food/medicine hoarding is a new thing for me since Brexit (so, UK based). What prepping we have done is to cope with short term issues from panic buying. We had started running down the modest Brexit store but have now restocked somewhat. A significant part of that was pet food for our one dog and one cat – say, 3 months worth or so but we buy in fairly large bulk anyway.

    Thinking of possibilities of short term self-isolation and possibly with sickness we have added quite a few high calorie comfort items – chocolate, biscuits, tins of rice pudding, nuts, dried fruit etc along with things we can bake with – so cakes but we also make our own bread anyway. I will likely get some nice lumps of hard cheese over the weekend – this keeps well.

    This time I have added a small stock of extra medicines – mostly paracetamol based along with some diet supplements – enough to pass some out to neighbours if it really came to it. Fortunately we have no underlying health issues that we are aware of – though partner has just recovered from nasty seasonal flu which is in full swing in our small town (causing a brief Covid-19 lock down last week before the test came back negative).

    It sounds like more that it is. Though we buy food items in bulk also so would typically be able feed fairly well for maybe close to a month. Cooking nearly always from scratch we have a lot of dried foods around and – I guess important too – we know how to use them to maintain nutrition.

    We also happen to have a nice caravan which we store at home. We can cope ‘off-grid’ for some time if needed with several gas bottles (it has an oven), leisure batteries and (not much use in March) solar. Not thinking it will come to this or that water supplies are likely to be an issue (this last may be a mistake but there are plenty of natural sources around here and we do have some limited purification chemicals – we do a lot of festivals/camping/caravaning).

    We have a daughter at a big University in one of the larger UK cities – this may become a concern. Partner is a teacher but as said above – that may not be of any special significance.

    I was not the only person doing a modest prepping shop in ASDA last night. No sign of mass efforts but the pallets of long-life goods were run down as were the medicines (this may be a flu thing).

    I worry that I may be starting to find prepping fun!

    1. Rob Dunford

      I saw in Sainsbury’s packs of pearl barley/dried pea mix. This can be a good source of both fibre and protein. Could be mixed into a stew or eaten solo. It cooks fairly quick as well.

  8. Ignacio

    Contagion within Spain also confirmed. First avoid direct contact as much as possible. Reducing exposure is a must if one wants not to be infected or simply pass a mild acute infection. Not only mouth and nose but eyes can also be infected. Avoid touching frequently touched stuff: vending, elevator buttoms, knobs etc. Carry with yourself paper towels, use elbows instead of hands… I have to visit people in my job. Keep a distance do not shake hands. I have allergies so my nose is a mess. I wash it every night with salted warm water to remove excess mucus before sleep.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      Ignacio, do you think it possible that somehow getting into a sealed air tight can such as canned fruit would enable the virus to potentially last as a contagious entity for long periods of time?

  9. JohnB

    If you can do a passable bolognese (just mince cooked until browned, then tomato sauce with some veg/herbs – getting it tasty may be a bit more work) – it’s the kind of thing you can make a large batch of, and divide into meals + freeze forever – then just thaw + reheat it in the microwave.

    If you’ve got the taste right, you can get a giant pot and loads of food containers, and cook many weeks worth of it in one go, for freezing.

  10. Amfortas the hippie

    I’m going long with the seed order…and have successfully convinced Mom to do the same.
    and, remarkably(it’s a bone of contention that she reflexively won’t take my advice,lol)…i managed to steer her away from her usual fun-stuff(microgreens, which i could never sell out here, no matter a pandemic—“fun stuff” usually ends up in the compost pile), and go with things that will keep, or are easily canned, and that our small-c locals would be apt to at least try in a shortage situation.
    all of this with the expectation that the store shelves will empty out rather quickly—Hurricane Rita caused a truckless week out here which did just that….and I’m apparently the only one who remembers it and what it means.
    I have a lot of squash things in storage that we didn’t get to this winter…especially spaghetti squash and heirloom pumpkins. so those are being laid out in the gully under the mesquite, or in the pasture across the road, to do their thing….these tend to do well out here without intervention, and they keep well all winter, are packed with vitamins, etc and will come in very handy if there’s a re-outbreak and associated disruptions next fall.
    all of this, of course, is for the express purpose of feeding ourselves as well as essentially profiteering(except that i am not above giving it away and shoring up my usefulness with the locals)
    aside from that…I’m pushing hard for mom to fund a re-stocking of OTC meds…tylenol, ibuprofin, gut-bug meds, etc….and allergy relief(for us, and for tradeable goods–given our annual and universal “cedar fever”)
    zippo supplies, pre-mix chainsaw fuel(keeps forever, near as i can tell, unlike gas), kerosene in bulk, and other assorted things that would come in handy in a crisis of any depth and breadth, but that would get used around here anyway.
    with cousin coming up for an extended stay(labor and capital!), plus already extant plans for barn raising over spring break(labor, and much needed infrastructure), the biggest push…again…is the gardens.
    finally got enough mulch and horseshit this winter to complete the 20,000 sq ft of raised beds that have been the goal for years…with careful management, i estimate enough fertility right there for 10+ years…and i’ll be pushing mom to make getting more horseshit a priority—at least 10 tons of well rotted mostly horse manure behind the vet’s office, and he’s got a dumping trailer and bobcat on-site, just needs convincing to let me solve his manure problem for him,lol. mom and stepdad are closer to him, and can make the case better than I.
    I digress, as usual…and my situation is certainly much different than most people’s…but that’s what i’m doing to prepare for disaster…pretty much what i would be doing any way. but pandemic makes it easier to make the case to help me with these efforts, rather than resisting(“i really NEED to recover that furniture…again”) and/or leaving me to struggle through on a shoestring

    1. The Rev Kev

      Don’t know if it is of any help but my late mother-in-law used to gather up the horse manure from her horses and put it in a 44-gallon drum and filled it up with water and let it sit for a coupla weeks. When done, she had a supply of liquid fertilizer and the heat had killed of fthe seeds also gathered up in the horse manure that would otherwise sprout in the garden.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        “$hit tea” is the technical term.
        during the growing season, i spray it on everything.
        add a bit of dried molasses to jump start the microbes, and don’t let it go anaerobic.
        foliar feeding…and bad bugs aren’t supposed to like it(?)
        hafta be careful about harvest time, etc.
        i usually use cow patties collected from neighbor’s spread(good excuse to go awandering over there, too)
        my other go-to…for 40 years…is fish emulsion. basically fermented fish guts(Garum?) from mackeral processing(so unclear on how friendly,lol)
        I love that stuff.
        boys say it smells like Galveston.

  11. c_heale

    In Korea in a country area without the virus at present, using a mask n94 (highest that is easily available) to try to prevent aerolized droplets landing on my face, not touching face while I am out, wearing gloves. Leaving outdoor clothes/gloves/masks by the door when entering the house, washing hands and face after removing outdoor clothes, wiping down cellphone with sanitizing wipe on entry. Avoiding crowds. Staying in a lot with my wife, no visitors. Only going out in local area. Have stocked up on 2 weeks extra food. Am eating healthily and trying to take some exercise each day to strengthen my immune system. The local supermarket doesn’t have any shortages although a few things are increasing in price. However, I am in a high risk category due to age, prior lung surgery, mild diabetes and mild hypertension. There’s not much else I can do, and if there is an outbreak here it probably won’t be enough.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Try extra Vitamin C. Work up to 6000 MG a day, divided doses.

      If you feel something coming on, Vitamin A, 20,000 IU/day, 2 days only and those 2 days, increase your Vit C dose by 2000 MG or so. I have fought off flus successfully that way.

      Also if you are not taking ACE inhibitors, you might look into some dietary supplements that have that effect. Problem is I am not sure that dosage you get that way is enough to make a big difference but it can’t hurt.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Might be worth stocking up on those vitamin C tablets as China is the largest vitamin C exporter in the world so you would expect disruptions in supply.

      2. c_heale

        Well first… wow Yves replied to a comment of mine. I am slightly skeptical re Vitamin C, since my mum swore by it, and dosed us up religiously with it when I was young, and I still got every cold going (but strangely have only had flu a couple of times) and my youngest brother never got any colds. I also try to eat a lot of high Vit C fruit, and Korea has some great citrus which are still in the shops. I will look into it though. Also, having done a Chemistry degree, I’m aware of Linus Pauling – Nobel Prize in Chemistry, going crazy for megadoses of it at the end of his life, to no effect. I will get out in the garden too, and get my immune system fired up working with soil and plants and bugs.

        1. c_heale

          The other thing is that my lung surgeries were for parathyroid cancer, so I have to be careful about medicines.

        2. spro

          The only research I have ever seen on Vit C being effective was on Serbian special forces (or something to that effect) who were chronically stressed with no sleep and extreme physical labor. If anybody has any studies supporting general population use I would love to see them.

        3. Dirk77

          The wife of Linus Pauling also megadosed on vitamin C. She died of stomach cancer at 77. Everyone is different.

        4. Susan the other

          my comment above re vitamin C – Linus was actually right about vitamin C – just the method failed. they now give it intravenously in the hospital for serious infections like cellulitis and sepsis and for various pneumonias. Intravenous C is very effective. And it’s good to keep your own blood levels up with supplements.

          1. Dirk77

            You mention the success of vit C in the treatment of short term maladies. I can understand that as people can usually take a lot of anything if it’s short term. The question though as I inferred it was whether to use vit C in megadoses as a preventative, even via an IV. I bet not for many people, especially the elderly.

          2. Yves Smith Post author

            The theory of Vitamin C supplementation is that humans are one of the few species that don’t make our own Vitamin C, and the blood levels of species that do make their own is way way higher than what we get in our diets and hence via FDA recommendations (RDAs are based on norms, which are not necessarily what is optimal).

            So since there is no money in studying a vitamin, no one knows for sure how much. Vitamin C is not pricey and IMHO it doesn’t hurt to take some (unless you have a sensitive stomach) in case you might be one of the people it helps. 6000 MG is on the high side for normal people but for someone with an impaired system, it might be a useful precaution. The worst is that you wind up with expensive urine.

        5. neo-realist

          I do a Vitamin B complex daily plus an apple most days of the week and a banana every day; when the supermarkets have sales on organic blueberries I stock up w/ 2,3 pints at a time. Do Vitamin C when I’m on the verge of a cold. Eat organic green salads for lunch daily. The combination seems to work well.

      3. Krystyn Walentka

        There is only weak evidence for Vitamin C protecting against the flu and pnemonia and I actually advise against it. The problem with the flu is not the virus, but the cytokine storm that it causes. Vitamin C will actually RAISE cytokines while Zinc will decrease them.

        Also, I have a comment in moderation that speaks to the ACE2 function and the real issues looks like it is coming from an HIV related enzyme called Furin. Furin will be stimulated by calcium intake so probably best to avoid that but that is just an educated guess on my part.

        1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

          Much the same opinion was expressed by Dr. John Campbell who recommends an ordinary dose of Vitamin C for the reasons you list, but thinks D is more important particularly if stuck indoors for any great length of time.

          I will be mainly risottos with tinned soup, dried pasta cooked with pasatta, olive oil & if need be using lazy garlic. Tinned anchovies, sun dried, tomatoes, chorizo, Parma ham dried porcini a heap of frozen wholemeal flatbread & tortillas. Tinned tuna for 2 lunches a week, tinned veg & Sainsbury’s very nice tinned new potatoes. My usual breakfast of organic porridge flakes with 6 tinned prunes, half a handful of crushed walnuts, a spoonful of organic honey & while they last a chopped apple, replaced by something tinned. Also have a large pot of Ragu with added veggies split into 8 servings frozen & a few large jars of organic blueberry jam bought from an old Irish fella sometime ago at a craft fair where he sells out of all of his stock before lunchtime.

          A much cheaper version of the above got me through Universal credit & fortunately I like to cook.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          Interesting. I started taking a very good zinc (Progena’s Optizinc) three years ago and that did more to reduce my getting winter flus than other immune boosters (like high glutathione whey). And zinc is cheap!

          I do take Vit C daily for heart health. The Pauling evidence on that is pretty good.

          Nevertheless, I have repeatedly found that higher doses of Vit C when I am getting a bug + Vit A (ONLY FOR 2 days) have enabled me to fight it off. Ditto my mother. And I am not a placebo responder.

          Another thing that seemed to help was echinacea from Australia, which is pharmaceutical grade. The US research nixed it but they only tried one dosage level, and with herbs, potency is all over the map, so who knows if what they tested had any juice. So this might help but I would use this in addition to other measures, not as a primary defense.

          1. Krystyn Walentka

            Opticzinc is the best form and what I take. I agree as well about Vitamin A. Thew reason I eat fish and take Cod Liver Oil when I can!

  12. Maurice

    I haven’t done any preparations so far and don’t intend to, even though I work for a Chinese owned company with a lot of ties to China.
    The government seems to have a good handle on the situation so far (the Netherlands) with meaningful measures trumping corona theatrics. They have refrained from measuring the temperature of all incoming travelers for instance as that would just catch all people with the flu, overwhelming the system and leaving less resources for the real cases.
    I’m also not afraid of the virus. If I get it, I will get ill and recover and the same for my family. I don’t take special precautions against the flu and don’t see any particular reason to take them against the corona virus.
    The only real risk would be a panic and empty supermarkets, but I don’t see that happening for a prolonged time either and certainly won’t contribute to it by stocking up myself.
    Of course it helps that we have our family living close by, so even in the case of self-quarantine we can depend on others to do the groceries for us (just like they can depend on us). And we are healthy so our chances of getting killed by the virus are almost non-existent.

    And just to be clear, I don’t think countries are overreacting by quarantining infected people and areas. Trying to prevent a worldwide spread is a good thing. And I would think twice about traveling abroad. But so far I don’t see a reason to let it impact my day-to-day life, especially since there has not been a single case in the Netherlands yet (although that is expected to be just a matter of time).

    1. Krystyn Walentka

      Agree. I do not get all the people here talking about gardens and storing seeds like it is the end times.

      1. MOnty

        It will probably be fine, very highly probable in fact. There is a non zero chance it wont be fine and quite a good chance things will be disrupted beyond your personal health. Go back and look at what happened in Puerto Rico and Louisiana after their “surprise” problems when they needed help. It’s a bad bet to count on the US government to save you.

        Hope for the best and all that, but in USA it is every man for himself.

      2. kiwi

        It is better to be prepared than sorry. Prep doesn’t take that much time, either.

        I’m already checking into extra meds for my Dad, who is in a small memory care center.

        I bought some water and stocked up on rice, beans, and canned/boxed soups. Stuff I will use up anyway, sooner or later. I plan to buy a few more items here and there.

    2. Anon

      There is a difference between preparation and precaution. Hand sanitation, social distancing, are precautions. Enlarging the pantry to store more food, or growing a small garden are preparations. Precautions are applied for immediate concerns; preparations are for future anticipated events.

      With all of the interconnected, just-in-time, operation of most US cities, preparing for some disruption in essential supply chains (food, fuel, utilities, medicine) is prudent , not panic.

      Some may see Covid-19 as no dangerous than seasonal flu. They are wrong. The apparent mortality rate of Covid is ~25x’s that of the flu. That will affect the care of ALL citizens who get sick from ANY virus. Things will be different; resources will be limited. That is why the CDC is putting resources in place to mitigate potential impacts of Covid and attempting to educate the population on how to cope with the likelihood of a pandemic. They are telling us to be (pre) cautious and prepared, but not panicked.

      In the US many people do not live in extended families and rely on their routine to be uninterrupted. If they could not re-charge their cell phones many could not coordinate their day. Disruption to their routine is not only stressful, but calamitous, in some cases.

      Quarantines to prevent the spread of Covid-19 are not a bad thing; just proven to be ineffective for Covid. The best solution is, of course, development of a vaccine. But that is some time away. In the interim the operative activity is precaution and preparation.

  13. Nax

    My Dad used to buy a lot of canned stuff and we had a couple of cans of tomatoes that leaked copiously after a few years. So if you are thinking about maybe keeping those tomatoes around if there is no immediate crisis then I recommend putting them where they wont do any damage if they fail. Like not on a high shelf of an overhead cupboard above a shelf on which you stack useful stuff like we did.

    Possibly even put them in a plastic tub or something, I assume that would work but a cheap aluminium foil tray might not.

  14. LawnDart

    Know your neighbors and make an effort to be on good terms with them– volunteer assistance where you can, good will may come to short supply.

  15. Tom Stone

    As someone going through Chemo I had already started wearing Nitrile gloves when out and about and also using disinfectant wipes on the door handles and steering wheel of my vehicle.
    I will be most at risk while getting infusions in a hospital setting, an unfortunate ( And boring, it takes 24 hours) necessity due to my reactions to Rituximab.
    I picked up enough gloves to last 90 days yesterday and will be stocking up on food this week.

    1. doug

      Good luck Tom. Sending good healing energy your way from the east…
      I am still unable to walk, but now can ride a bike, which is great.

  16. jackiebass

    I listened to a good presentation about this. They had on several experts discussing the subject, What surprised me is that the expert opinion varied a lot between experts.One promoted closing schools, restricting contact and travel, while another claimed these measures weren’t very effective.My take away was do the usual things to protect your self. Washing hands being the most common. As a suspicious person , to prevent panic, people aren’t being given all of the facts they need to know. Probably because they would e a big negative on the economy. It’s another case where money is more important than people. The senator from MS was badgering a witness at a hearing.His biggest concern was. are their enough respirators for every person. The obvious answer would be no and he knew the answer but continued to showboat. Another example of him being more important than the people he serves. I’m concerned , not for me but for my kids and grand children. Instead of acting responsibly we are acting based on politics.

  17. vlade

    How old is the house you’re in? Some older houses have brass fittings, and brass/copper fittings are pretty good antimicrobialy/antivirally. Can be costly.

    Re food – you can stock on dried milk too. Butter is freezable and can last very long time frozen (as long as you don’t need it for cakes, then it may be a problem..). Frozen whole chicken is good food, because you can roast it, and then use the bones for chicken stock (basically, just chuck all the bones w/o meat into water and slowly boil at around 90C for a few hours). It is a bit of space-wasted compared to other meat though, unless you break it up.

    Garden – if you get someone to prepare the garden beds for you (or even better plant it with what you need), you can easily grow tomatos, green peas and all sorts of squash (including zucchini) with trivial to no effort, and even better with just a bit effort (pinching the tomatoes – it’s easy, you pretty much can’t go wrong), subject to water requirements (i.e. need to water in really dry and hot conditions – that can be hassle if you have to do it manually. Grass sprinklers aren’t good for this though, but drip irrigation can be done on the cheap if you don’t mind remembering turning it on/off manually). Potatos take a bit more effort, but still doeable as long as someone does the planting (you have to cover them with a bit more earth once or twice during the growth stage).

    All this comes from someone who doesn’t really like gardening and spending too much time in the garden (one hour a week if that). Last year we planted peas, beans, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, onions, sweetcorn and some kale + cabbages (those were the only ones we didn’ tharvest in the end, because we don’t want to use pesticides – so some insects overbred last year and we lost this). Post planting in the spring we weren’t able to spend much time on it (pretty much none). Yet we had crop that we weren’t able to process and ended up giving lots of produce to friends and family. Due to warm winter, I still have some red beets in the ground I take out now and then for cooking.

  18. Brooklin Bridge

    I’ve been getting a lot of canned goods as they keep for over a year. If my teeth were any good, I’d get a lot of canned nuts. I’m getting some anyway as I can grind them up if I have to. They keep and they provide fat and protein. Chocolate is good (I need to get more). I wonder about stocking up on bread. I too am lucky in that I have access to a freezer, but bread is not all that good for you and if the electricity goes, I don’t think I’ll have the ability to keep the freezer going (I do have a lot of birds though that I feed). Too many trees around here to set up a good solar installation – no time to really get into wind. I’m getting canned meat which will taste just fine after a few days without eating. There is a way sailors prep eggs (boil for 30 seconds or something?) that allows one to keep them for a month or more, I’ll look into that. Lot’s of protein in eggs.

    I’m trying to do my “prepping” in many smaller forays so as to avoid contributing to a run on the supermarkets.

    If shut downs go for too long, well, that will be that. More power to the preppers who have been practicing for events like these.

    One concern; I’m not seeing much light on is how to contribute to helping others if we are all locked down. Assuming I have anything left to contribute, it may – at some point – simply be worth breaking the rules and risking it all (I have all three conditions; lung issues, ex. smoker, and age, that make me a mortality bulls eye to this disease). But then, I might be a vector of the disease as well without knowing it. I’m leery of giving to the Red Cross and institutions like those that seem to have fallen prey to the super virulent corruption virus.

  19. Gus

    “One good bit of news is children aren’t vectors for this disease, …”

    * Citation wanted, if you could; a half hour of googling has not suggested support for this statement; rather, most remarks seem to focus on the idea that children are merely having mild or no symptoms, and the uncertainty on whether they might be asymptomatic drivers of infection.

    Apologies for the mailinator address – I haven’t used email for years.

    1. rd

      The children don’t seem to be showing significant symptoms. That does not mean they are not vectors as they could be carriers. My understanding is that China and CDC are looking into this, but there is little hard data yet. this is an important question to get an answer to in order to figure out if school closures are warranted and reasonable approaches.

  20. Hamford

    Thanks for this piece.

    I don’t understand what AOC et al gain from reflexively attacking Trump’s appointment of Pence. At the end of the day Trump put the second highest ranking executive in charge to manage. Pence’s religion and beliefs have little to do with how he manages the response.

    Focusing on the gutting of the CDC and others (Forest Service, EPA) and all the other societal goods / protectionary apparatus is a better opportunity.

    1. vlade

      “Pence’s religion and beliefs have little to do with how he manages the response.”
      Evidence? If given options, people tend to follow their beliefs.
      Being a second highest ranking executive doesn’t magically make one competent.

      1. Monty

        Maybe you missed the memo. In the last few days the MAGA tribe has been directed to believe and share a few new stories.

        1) Trump is doing a heckofajob and has locked it down over here.
        2) China released the virus on purpose to suppress HK riots, but were careful to make it non deadly. Its just like flu. No worries.
        3) Democrats are hyping it up to scare us, and hurt Trump
        4) Thank god we don’t have socialized medicine!
        5) Having successfully made America great again. MAGA is deprecated. Use of KAG is encouraged.

        1. jrs

          The only thing correct is Dems are playing politics. However they are far more in the correct than Trump and company here. They would not have gutted responses the way the Trump admin did.

          They are all heck of an *annoying* (and come across as ultimately self-seeking, more concerned about their reelection than the population) but that is not our biggest problem here.

      1. kiwi

        Yes, Pence and only Pence is responsible for this spread, and not the people using drugs and sexually transmitting the disease.

        People are so stupid. They don’t take care of themselves and are fine with infecting others.

        And needles and syringes can be sterilized by the users, had they wanted to be cautious.

    2. Brian (another one they call)

      This is an assumption that I would not make regarding how Pence would react to this global pandemic. Considering he is on the radical side of his religious beliefs, he may fade to the ‘dog’s will” side of things. His views have already shown him to be against the laws of the US using religion as a tool, a bribe, and influenza peddling, It gives me great assurance that nothing in hell will be done to protect anyone. The idea that an unrealist would preside over reality is one of those confirmatory lessons that we are on our own. If he is not replaced with someone competent, we will lose a lot more people to ingrained idiocy.
      And please, to all of you. Get exam gloves, wear them and find out how often you touch and cross contaminate things. You must learn to do it right or it won’t be worth your effort.

      1. kiwi

        Even if your notion about Pence was true, do you honestly think that the CDC, NIH, all health care workers would simply act passively?

        Heads of various medical organizations are talking about what they are doing; this information is widely available.

        1. JTMcPhee

          If they don’t tread carefully and toe the line, the Czar can just defenestration them. So there may be hope that those agency staffs still contain people who actually give a rip about their nominal missions to protect public health, but those staffs have been decimated (like EPA and OSHA and others) by two generations of “conservative” rule and I include Obama, who did his own share of filling the ranks with ciphers and fellow travelers. “Clean coal,” and “all energy sources,” anyone?

      1. notabanktoadie

        Except sin is sin and that includes neglect of duty.

        Besides which, God needs no help with acts of God.

        1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

          Perhaps a Machiavellian henchman ploy by Trump ?

          Very possibly a no win job & someone will have to take the buck.

          1. Anarcissie

            As to Pence, my experience with local and corporate crises is that you appoint a very higher up to show the shmucks that you care, and rely on mid- and lower-level people to do the actual work, hoping that the figurehead will stay out of the way. I would think this would apply to Pence.

            1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

              Yes, I have seen that happen & as long as the idiot at the top does not interfere too much it can work, but no harm having someone else as the face people associate with the job. David Cameron did something similar by appointing George Osborn as the chancellor of the exchequer in the UK, who did all of the austerity dirty work & became. forever associated with that.

              I could never understand why those who hated him for it, could not see that he was working under Cameron’s instructions, although he was obviously very happy to be the one turning the screw.

  21. ObjectiveFunction

    Medical alcohols of all kinds are in short supply here in Singapore; it seems the refinery complexes no longer include a distillery. The citizenry remains quiet, orderly and unpanicked. The harbor anchorage, though, is jam packed, horizon to horizon, with idled Capemaxes and bulk carriers, all empty.

    Re slow cookers, I have about the same aptitude and patience for cooking as you do, by the sound of it, but my wife has me doing some basic dishes involving tossing in a chicken and various bottled sauces (Mex, Indian, etc.) It’s basically load, fire and forget; the pot keeps it juicy and also keeps it warm until you’re ready to eat. You can also make yogurt in large batches.

  22. dougie

    I am mostly concerned about insulin for my spousal unit. She uses a lot. Also, glaucoma meds. Cant have her eyeballs exploding, now can we? My wife has been a life long food hoarder (not a prepper), and we relentlessly home can food year round, so I am not worried in that regard.

    We can isolate in place at our cabin, where we spend a lot of our time already. We spent five weeks here last summer. I only left a few times to hold court at the local brewpub, but we could sit here for a long,long time with no outside contact, if need be. Zero. None. Null. Zilch. I would have to hide all the knives, after a few days.

    I am more concerned about my business, an auto repair shop in a town of 300k. People start staying home, even 20%, and all the sudden, a fairly comfortable retiree absentee owner lifestyle becomes very problematic. And quickly.

    Who knows what will happen? I will take certain precautions, like cutting out business flights to meetings I didn’t want to attend to start with. Other than that, I will live life much as I have since the ’60’s…..depend on myself, and always have a fallback position that I can live with. So far, so good……

  23. John B

    One feature of this virus seems to be that teenagers may not be much affected. If so, they may step into roles normally performed by older workers. I have several in my house — I may just hide indoors, set up a sanitizing station at the entrance, and have them do all my errands. Of course, that will make them even more complacent and insufferable than they already are.

  24. lou strong

    I live in the Milan surroundings.The SBS probably reported about what happened last Sunday, when local and national authorities announced emergency measures, people panicked and supermarkets were quite emptied. I went shopping yesterday and supermarket supply was normal.What is not normal is everyday life, obviously emergency measures are going on , schools are closed etc etc . Traffic is like in holiday time. Many economic sectors are suffering and it’s more than likely than recession will arrive sooner than expected.
    In the whirlwind of the opinions I read about Covid in my country , I give preference to these ones
    -Italy appears more hit than others because there was massive NHS testing even without the faintest sign of illness, so now authorities are saying that tests will be done only in presence of specific symptoms
    -tests, due to the fact that pharma firms had too little time too produce adequate test engines, is producing a lot of false positives
    -mortality rate is approx.2 % , people who need to be hospitalized is less than 5% and those who died were already in very bad health condition, so if it wasn’t for the Covid alarm,in normal times their death would have been classified as “medical complication” ( for instance the “normal” winter flu).In other words, people with an average immune system shouldn’t be particularly worried, and by the way all the usual method to stengthen it are welcome.
    So what I ask to myself is : how did it happen that Covid is being treated like a pest ?

    1. The Rev Kev

      ‘how did it happen that Covid is being treated like a pest?’

      I think that I can answer that. I ran the numbers for Australia, which has a population of 25 million, and got the following result. If only 10% of our population get Coronavirus and of that 3% die – which is in line with present knowledge – then that means 75,000 Aussies dead of this virus. And that is only ten percent in a country with a pretty good healthcare system. For context, in WW1 Aussies were in some of the hardest battles of that war and we only lost 60,000 people altogether.

      1. carl

        Something like 40,000 people per year die from auto accidents in the US. Likewise, medical errors in hospital kill even more. I’m not getting too concerned here, but I should really stop driving. Won’t go to the hospital unless there’s a screaming emergency

        1. The Rev Kev

          OK, so I just ran the numbers for the US with the same 10% infection rate and a 3% death rate. That gives over a million dead Americans. You think that it will be only 10% infection rate there? How well will the US healthcare system be able to cope? Today’s Links indicate that there will mostly be only a market-based approach used.

          1. carl

            Oh, I’m well aware of how bad the US response is likely to be, but thanks for the math; it does bring it into perspective. I’m distrusting the US infected numbers; just doesn’t seem possible for it to be that low, but then again, with very little testing being done…

            1. The Rev Kev

              Sorry, I wasn’t trying to be narky. I’m only using maths to get a handle on what to expect and it is not looking good. Scotty from Marketing here declared a pandemic status which sounded good. But then he politicize it by not telling the leader of the opposition first. And then he suggested that it was still OK to go crowding at football games. Idjut!

              As for myself, tomorrow I start my first shopping expedition for supplies to lay in.

              1. Carl

                I think our social cohesion in the US is very low, so I think that will also exacerbate things. I did ask, in my morning fitness class (mostly older, well–off ladies) who had made affirmative efforts to prepare for a possible quarantine, and at least half the class raised their hands.

              2. carl

                My afternoon shopping expedition revealed that isopropyl alcohol was unavailable at my local grocery store. Plenty of beer left, thankfully.

          2. oliverks

            To me there are 3 problems with COVID.

            1) The R0, while not completely known, is high
            2) The mortality rate appears to be 2-3%
            3) A significant number of people need hospitalization. I think data suggest about 15%.

            Fact 1 means an out break can grow very quickly if not checked by extreme measures. We have seen that in the numbers. The rapid rise without extreme containment measures will quickly lead to a large number of people needing help. That will cause the healthcare system to collapse.

            For example, lets say NYC has an uncontrolled outbreak. It could quickly find 10-20% of its population infected at the same time. Let’s say 10% of 10M or 1M people are infected. Now assume 15% need hospitalization, you need 150,000 additional hospital beds. A quick Google showed NYC only has 26,451 hospital beds. You will need 50K respirators. The whole system will collapse.

            Then your mortality rates go crazy. You are no longer looking a 2-3%. People with other diseases will be dying too, because they can’t get access to health care.

            It is possible warming weather will save us here by cutting the R0 rate, but to believe this is “just another flu” is delusional. It could crush the medical system very easily.

            My recommendation is to move to self isolation as soon as you know there is community acquired transmission in your area. Why wait till then? Well if you do get it early, there will still be hospital resources to look after you, if you need them. If you are part of the vulnerable group (older, smoker, other conditions…), you may want to consider self isolation earlier.

            I definitely recommend prepping. As my wife and I like to cook, we can survive on pretty basic resources. Hence I don’t have good recommendations, other than stock chocolate!

            1. VietnamVet

              This is my assessment too. I think rational scientific analysis has determined that the real threat of the Wuhan coronavirus is the breakdown of the healthcare system and the secondary economic collapse from the just in time supply system running out of stock. That is why China, Singapore, South Korea and Italy all went with full-blown disruptive quarantines to try to keep it from getting out of hand. South Korea is the hot spot now. In the West it is all PR now to try to avoid panic in the hope that the pandemic will die down during the summer and a vaccine will be on line next year.

              The American Healthcare system is already a rickety wealth extraction system that is so bad it could get “Comrade Sanders” elected President if the election is held in November. The US public health system was dismantled. CDC and NIH are leftovers that mainly hand out grants to the connected and maintain the status quo. Donald Trump and Mike Pence will not be making science-based decisions. Their decisions will continue to be transactional: “Preserve and increase the wealth of the rich. Blame the victims”. Outbreaks in poor areas will be ignored, the same as New Orleans and Puerto Rico after hurricanes hit. True believers like Mike Pence plan on being lifted up into heaven.

              There will be wild variations in healthcare available when outbreaks occur in North America. Being an ex-smoker, abstainer and an ancient fogey; my only chance for another decade is to avoid getting infected. I am prepping and will shelter in place. But I am finding old habits are hellishly hard to change and my subconscious acting out is hard to shake.

          3. kiwi

            The CDC and NIH are not ‘market based’ organizations. And neither are state and cities public health organizations.

          4. Terence Dodge

            Thanks for the numbers. Mostly old folks, the ill as in prior existing conditions ( smoking of what ever for “X” duration, meth users, opioid users perhaps? ). Prison populations and those held for border violations in “humane” conditions might notice an uptick.

            1. oliverks

              Terence, if you see my note above, it could be much worse than Rev Kev’s numbers. Rev Kev’s analysis only applies if we don’t overwhelm the health system.

        2. Lee

          And the death rate for everyone is eventually 100%. That doesn’t preclude taking reasonable precautions. But then I’m over 70 years old and still ride a motorcycle, so who am I to be giving you advice? ; )

          1. notabanktoadie

            And the death rate for everyone is eventually 100% Lee

            Except for the Rapture.

            “Interesting times” and from China, no less!

            As for my “prep”, I carry 40-50 lbs (80 to be as thin as in high school) of excess weight I should be happy to lose. And in WWII, I’ve read, the health of Europeans IMPROVED from the food shortages.

            Also, “starve a cold …?”

            1. clarky90

              We typically burn 300 grams (2/3 of a pound) of fat per day when we are fasting. Our genius bodies turn the body fat into ketones, which it uses for fuel.

              So…your spare-tire belly fat will easily sustain you for about 70 days. Nature has thought of everything….even pandemic scarcity.

              1. notabanktoadie

                No, that isn’t in the Bible to my knowledge.

                Still, animals will refuse food when sick. Why should mankind be any different?

            2. FFA

              I have heard the claim that nutrition improved in Britain during WWII. The then cutting edge understanding of nutrition was used – along with rationing – to make sure everybody got just enough calories and protein and lots of vegetables. For many of the working class this was a distinct improvement over what they got in the 1930s.

              People starved to death in mainland Europe in WWII, it was not a handy way to lose some weight:

              If someone is really stuck for space and worried about eating for a fortnight they might stock up on multivatimins and something calorie and protein dense. With that and clean water you can survive a fortnight (and you might not want to live much longer on that diet!).

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Thanks. For many people, the issue is not just actual or prospective shortages but also minimizing trips to places where lots of people go.

  25. skippy

    Personally I think Trumps captain call [good at this sort of thingy] is a Cecil B. DeMille casting pick, Pence record and all …

    Plenty of rice and dried mixed beans w/ lots of sauces, dried herbs and spices, pork speck, dry nuts and fruits.

    Gotta say though even with a worst case death scenario it does not compare to the deaths since the first gulf war or its legacy. Nor was I aware that viruses respected borders or laws.

  26. NJ

    Good article. It hadn’t occurred to me that the USA was such a soft target for the virus. But the combination of such an expensive and inefficient healthcare system, the distrust it has fostered with the general public, and a national leadership who doesn’t really believe in science, all adds up to potentially a perfect storm. Scary stuff!

    Farcical as it may sound, America’s broken and racist immigration system may become a saving grace here…

    1. ptb

      I dunno, the fact that people have learned to avoid hospitals may be of benefit in this case, as is the lack of mass transit in most of the country.

    1. aletheia33

      thank you. though early days yet, i recommend a perusal of this list, which prompts thoughts of bad medical scenarios. could the shortages prove a threat to more people than the virus, considering how medicated the general US population is, and especially the elderly, who have so many medicines/problems?

      many if not most of the items listed as currently in shortage are products used for injection. including, with perhaps very sad consequences, methadone.

      . . . i am also wondering about consequences of shortages of pain medicine injections, as i received one in the ER on january 26 when i broke my shoulder. i do not like to think of what my ordeal would have been like in the ER that day with no painkilling injection available. the pain was intense, and the injection made it hugely more bearable. on the other hand i had no idea they could just stick a needle in me and make the pain subside, so if they had not done so, i would not have known any better!

      plenty of people save unused painkillers “just in case,” and in a supply shortage they could certainly come in handy, including for pooling among neighbors.

    2. skk

      yes thanks much. I’ll keep monitoring this. After the Axios article I went hunting for something like this and failed to find anything.

  27. Wukchumni

    Why not buy a breadmaker?

    They’re inexpensive and do all the heavy lifting, you might need 5 minutes of prep.

    Or, check out Essential Bakery online, they make shelf stable breads that last 6 months, and quite tasty too!

    How about canned butter?

    Red Feather brand from NZ has a shelf life of around 20 years or more and I think it tastes better than store bought butter here.

    1. Paul O

      I like to bake by hand but we do consider a bread maker to be an essential household item these days – time is often short and waking up to fresh hot bread is a joy. Can make excellent organic bread very cheaply – especially buying flour in bulk.

      Slow cooker is much liked too. And the pressure cooker.

  28. Juneau

    Just one comment: Cheap generics can be bought at great discount through
    and also is a good resource to get out of pocket discounts.

    You can have your doc order 90 day supplies which will be mailed to you. Once you see how cheap the generics are you will realize how useless some of the pharmacy coverage is but that is another discussion. Brand name meds are a different issue but they may not be in short supply since China mostly makes generics or so I hear.

  29. William Hunter Duncan

    Monday morning the dow was down 850 points, and I watched as it steadily dropped to 950 in about 5 minutes. With the news out of Italy and Iran etc, I was off to Costco.

    I filled two carts, and spent $1068.xx. Tuesday I bought a few dozen packets of seeds, a quality manual water filter, a 20lb propane tank and an adapter to work on my camp cookstove.

    The food is mostly canned and packaged, with bulk staples of rice, beans and flour. I guage it as about a three month supply including what we already have in the house. I generally eat fresh food, so this is not how I would normally eat, however it would simply make a quarantine much less stressful. Plus I canned a lot last fall, so that would help, and the garden and greenhouse will be producing soon. The filter and fuel are mostly for rolling blackouts, if it comes to that. If it does, and we were to use up that 3 month supply, there would be a lot more problems to deal with than what are we going to eat. I’m assuming voracious big bank would not forgive the mrtg, and three months out of work would drain savings too.

    In about 2 mnths I will start working this supply into our daily meals. My hope is to maintain this as a regular thing, and focus more on canning, building up to a sixth month supply (ITSHTF, i fully expect unprepared family and friends to be checking in posthaste). Really wishing I had a 6000gal cistern in the basement now.

    Part of me would like a month or so at home to work on the house, read and write. Quarantine in the city though is daunting. Particularly as I expect most people in this greater metro to be mostly unprepared should quarantine come. Nothing like hunger and ill health for crazy making.

  30. The Historian

    I hadn’t planned to prep as long as all the Covid cases in the US were contained. But today I read that there is an unexplained case in California so yep, today, I am going to stock up for at least three months. First off, getting kitty food and litter, then those things like shampoo and cleaners, tp and for me – my favorite coffee. And then cases of canned veggies and fruits. A sack of potatoes should keep three months. I will save my smallish freezer for meats and fish.

    I’m no cook either, but I second all those who say use a crock pot. I do – it is so easy – throw all the stuff in at once and forget it – and the good thing is that most foods you cook in a crock pot can be frozen. So I make a big pot of something, eat what I want for dinner, and freeze the rest in individual servings. Pork and chicken freeze well. Most beef doesn’t but crock pot pot roast seems to freeze well – as does hamburger cooked in sauces.

    I am going to miss fresh eggs and veggies though.

    My insurance company won’t let me stock up on my medications so I envy those that can!

    1. Winston Smith

      Eggs in the fridge keep for a long time, at least a month. Personally, I would be skeptical about “what we know”, there seem to be too many unanswered questions and the govt has the difficult job of keeping people from panic whilst instilling a strain of caution and preparedness. This is not help by the the circus I saw yesterday-Trump presser naming Pence as lead on the case.

      1. Tangled up in Texas

        Eggs purchased in the store can be up to one year old. They are stored in huge vats of water and the floaters are skimmed off (these are the eggs that went bad).

        Buy fresh from your local farmer whenever possible…if you can find organic eggs, even better! Fresh eggs can last for weeks if properly refrigerated.

        1. Societal Illusions

          in Australia eggs aren’t typically refrigerated. freaked me out at first, growing up in USA), but they use up a lot of fridge space better utilized by veggies, so became a quick convert…

  31. Siggy

    I’ve been making soups and stews. I eat two meals a day with a mid evening snack, usually fruit, canned or fresh. There’s very little that we know about covid19 and as to lethality, I suspect that we will learn that where a death occurs, in most instances, there will be other morbidities in operation. My advice is to get lots of sleep, have at least a cup of chicken soup every other day and lots of vitamin c. Also, get a supply of face masks and keep your hands away from your face, nose and mouth.

  32. Samuel Conner

    re: what to do with canned tomatoes:

    combine with butter and onion for what is allegedly world’s best red pasta sauce:

    Haven’t tried this yet, but it sounds good.


    I take the appointment of Pence as “point man” on Covid-19 response as evidence that the Pres is worried about (metaphorically) an “ambush” and doesn’t want to be at the front of the column when it happens.

    It has for me the look of throwing the man under a bus that hasn’t yet, but is soon expected to, arrive

    and, if the image associated with the online report I saw yesterday is from the announcement of his appointment, I’d guess from the dolorous expression on his face that it might have that look for him, too

    1. voteforno6

      It goes both ways. If Pence does a good job, then Trump is just displaying his leadership by putting the right person in the right place. If Pence does poorly, then it’s all his fault, with the added bonus of people not being so keen to dump Trump.

      1. Samuel Conner

        Agreed; little downside risk for DJT in “delegating” public perception of responsibility/blame. I can’t imagine that Pence actually brings managerial excellence to this problem — the appointment IMO is entirely about brand management in preparation for the 2020 general election.

        In a comment yesterday, I wondered whether Pence ever feels put upon. That remark, and mine today, might be viewed as having something of the character of “sh*t-stirring”. Maybe it does. But, given the state of the world and the state of governance (country, regional, local, enterprise, non-profit, educational, medical, … goes on and on) it’s hard to notice and say anything about what is right in front of one’s face without, in effect, stirring the sh*t.

      2. neo-realist

        I would think that if Pence does poorly and a big breakout of coronovirus incurred in the USA, this would be hung around Trump’s neck in the general election campaign along with his defunding public health programs.

        1. WobblyTelomeres

          I’ve been expecting Trump to ceremoniously declare trade victory in September/October, drop his China tariffs, and bask in a stock market bounce right before the election. Wonder if he’ll wrap it all up in Great Humanitarian Guazery, too?

    2. carl

      I tried that sauce; it is everything they say it is. Highly recommend, especially with San Marzano canned tomatoes.

  33. john bougearel

    Sounds like you could stand a man in the kitchen, Yves! :-)

    Okay, 3000 mg of Vitamin C Ascorbic Acid AA powder each day is a good preventative. If you get the virus, take as much Vitamin C as possible up to bowel tolerance. This might be anywhere from 25-100g a day.

    They are using Vit C in clinical trials in China for the virus. On Feb 3, DSM shipped 50 tons of Vit C to China. Sure others are shipping too.

    Word of caution about AA. It is just one piece of the Vit C Complex. There is a copper dependent enzyme called Tyrosinase in the Vit C complex that helps the adrenals synthesize stress hormones. So, 5 mg of Copper a day during the illness will help support the adrenal stress response to the virus.

    Word of caution about

    1. Samuel Conner

      Question: is there any reason to prefer powered Vitamin C to tablet form dissolved in hot water? I’ve been throwing tablet C into my hot tea (green tea; there is reason to think that the anti-oxidants are good for you).

      Is there a significant difference in bio-availability of different formulations or molecular structural perturbations of Vitamin C?

      I’m trying to optimize “amount of absorbed/utilized” immune-booster per $ expended, since there is quite a bit to spend the $ on at the moment.

        1. Samuel Conner

          Thanks! I’ll look into it. I’ve been purchasing 500gm double-bottles of tablets at oligarch-mart for about 12$ (already higher than your quote); will next try to understand whether there may be differences in the bioavailability. Given how o-mart treats its suppliers, I wouldn’t be surprised if their product is not the highest quality available.

  34. Wukchumni

    We’ve got a fair amount of land, and for years i’ve been clearing out dead wood on the ground and in trees & have created perhaps a dozen pretty decent camping spots in quite splendid isolation. If Covid-19 gets out of hand, backpacking friends in the Big Smokes will have a place to hide out. I hope it doesn’t come to that, but they all know its there for them. It would be difficult for an average Joe or Jane to live this way for quite a spell, but not for our very experienced coterie of backcountry enthusiasts.

    An extreme variant would be hanging out in our cabin in the National Park, an easy get in our winter that never quite showed up after the new year. It’s in a ‘gated community’ in that during the winter there are 2 locked gates blocking entry-as Mineral King is closed up from Nov 1st to around May 20th, that is unless you’re a cabin owner and have the combination. We might be the only people around for many miles.

  35. Lee

    We are four adults living in a detached house near the east shore of San Francisco Bay. I’m retired, one of us, my son, is a construction worker with limited work related social interactions. But two work on the bay ferries as bartenders (Yikes!). I have made the offer to carry them for a time should they quit their present jobs and find work that reduces their public exposure. One has accepted the offer, the other is thinking about it. I’ve tried to talk my son into moving up to the sierra foothills with his mom but so far he has shown no interest in doing so.

    In addition to frequent hand washing, when I am out and about I carry a bleach solution (~5%) soaked cloth in a plastic bag that I use after touching surfaces in public places. We all possess but have not begun using P-100 face masks.

    We have a pretty good supply of non-perishables on hand. A 25 lb. bag of brown rice for example. We just added to our stock of canned goods ordered delivered from Costco. Our stand alone freezer has frozen meats and veg, including what we have left of a boar my son bagged recently. So, yes, we have guns.

    We also have a supply of medicines including antibiotics and prescription pain medications. As is often the case with persons of my age, I am on a variety of maintenance medications. My Medicare Part D mail order plan provides a three months supply at a time.

  36. Scotland

    Living on a mountain top in NW Arkansas, 18 miles from the nearest town of consequence and 1/4 mile from the nearest neighbor will likely bias personal input on this issue. That’s the point, responses are personal. My habits are more seasonal than day to day. One trip to town a month has been a target for some time, stocking up for that duration and having a seasonal larder of non perishables to get through an unexpected ice storm. Still that’s only a stop gap measure. Why we live the way we do? is also personal, in as much as answering the question, is survival necessary as well. It probably all boils down to whether or not one has conviction in some form of a consciousness based physic of life and the universe. Common sense, what are its origins? and how scarce is it. If I was going to horde anything that would have to be it. Let me hope to have a least one months supply of it on hand at any time. If any character trait we cultivate, perfect and incorporate into our individual and collective view of the world can balance our darker angels, well, you know my answer. Do good, be good.

  37. WhoaMolly

    I pre-spent a couple week’s grocery budget for “prepping”. My goal is to be able to spend three weeks in the house without having to go out.

    – Amy’s canned organic soups. Open and serve.
    – Cans of tuna and chicken. Open and serve.
    – Canned and frozen vegetables
    – Chocolate (70% Lindt is pretty good, and has little sugar)
    – Boxes of Mac and cheese (grand kids like it)
    – Frozen salmon fillets.
    – Elderberry liquid (3 bottles. the NOW brand seems to be most cost-efficient)
    – Lots of trash bags. Lots of toilet paper
    – Extra meds and hearing aid batteries
    – Extra gallons of vinegar (for cleaning fresh vegetables)
    – Extra gallons of bleach (dilute and use for disinfectant)
    – A week’s’ supply of water. 1 gal. per person per day. (we use 2 gallon containers)
    – Storage boxes: I bought a couple of the large flat ones ones that roll under the bed. $21 US at local hardware store.
    – Masks: I bought a box of 10 just before all masks disappeared from our Northern California stores three days ago. One of the main uses of the masks, however, is apparently is a reminder to keep you from touching your face and eyes. Surprisingly hard to avoid this.
    – Nitrile gloves: I already had a box of 100 for painting and general work around the house.

    Not sure if it’s related, but when I went to the gym yesterday I noticed that the parking lots everywhere were jammed. There were a *lot* of people out shopping. The local pharmacy was crowded.

    When I go to the gym I am probably not as good as I should be about wiping down surfaces. I wash my hands before leaving the gym, and cover my hand with a paper towel before opening the bathroom door at the gym.

      1. tegnost

        I’ve even been pondering the whisky, for medicinal purposes, of course!
        wine seems to keep pretty well in those bottles, too…

        1. Winston Smith

          Bad timing for stocking up as the teetotaler in chief just smacked some tariffs on single malt. Another evil deed

          1. Societal Illusions

            that’s only for newly purchased replacement stock – if you find a store that just marks up, sometimes expensive (higher quality) bottles can have already spent multiple years in the store.

            control states and large chains excepted…

      2. Paul O

        I failed to mention the 120+ bottles of Claret we have tucked away! Modestly priced bottles but well nurtured, some over quite few years now. Not sure how long you can survive on wine – the cheese will run out first. But it does keep well.

        1. Wukchumni

          I’m a fan of the Mendoza Line, which is anything but a .200 hitter. Grocery Outlet has a nice wine selection on the cheap, and every Malbec seems to be in the $6 degrees of separation and superb, and we have say 66 bottles squirreled away.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          We are supplied on the alcohol front. I’m not a beer fan but we do have some courtesy my brother’s last visit. My mother does gin and tonics with the occasional riesling for variety. As much as I like reds, they aren’t suitable for single consumption (the splits suck and a half bottle is too much) so I’ve found a decent Provencal rose which is on virtual perma-sale at a local store.

  38. Expat2Uruguay

    While I realize it probably will not help Yves, I mention this for others who are interested, as well as to get feedback.
    Migration. I am considering hunkering down in my house for the fall (southern hemisphere) to avoid the virus and then starting travel toward the equator and continuing up into the US during the summer months. I have done a small amount of research and found that Ecuador and Costa Rica have the best Healthcare systems while not being high cost locations to live. I plan to travel via commercial airline, selecting for small planes and short hops on relatively untraveled pathways. I plan to Airbnb rent small places by using the “entire place” search feature. I plan to stay in each location for a month approximately. As summer approaches I plan to fly into a small airport in the southern part of California and Rent-A-Car for the rest of my travel up to Sacramento. None of this can really be called a plan exactly more like musings. I want to stay in places for a month, because I want to conduct research of countries I may decide to live in for longer periods in case of a sustained pandemic without Suitable vaccine development.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I think the key issue in avoiding this (at least for the next few months) is to stick to hot climes and South America, as it seems so far like it doesn’t move as fast in heat/humidity (although this doesn’t seem certain yet), and obviously South America has been the last continent so far to get it. Due to relatively low connectivity, I suspect that unless its unlucky, South America may be able to avoid the worst, at least for this year. A Brazilian friend of mine, a translator who can pretty much work where she wants, has gone home for just this reason. She was living in North Africa, but began to worry about her safety (she is of part Asian ethnicity, and kids started calling out ‘Coronavirus’! to her in the streets).

  39. Bill Carson

    No offense, but this thread is depressing as hell. It won’t take a huge percentage of Americans to suddenly start prepping to cause a rush on the grocery stores and empty all of the shelves. And the more the news and the government tells us there is no need to panic, the more people will panic.

    [Sigh]. So yes, I have started some prepping with food and some other supplies, but trying not to be obvious about it. Only buying the quantity I would normally buy in one trip. Shelves are adequately stocked for now, but that could change very quickly. Here in Colorado it is not uncommon for shelves to empty before a snow storm, and that’s what I expect to see.

    I’m going to head over to Lowes this morning and see if I can pick up a freezer for the garage so I can buy some meat and other freezer things. There’s a new retail store in town that sells the stuff they usually sell to restaurants, so I might try that place.

    1. Wukchumni

      The only thing I can be sure that I was doing during the Cuban Missile Crisis was breastfeeding, as I wasn’t quite a year old.

      My mom told me that she and every other housewife raided supermarkets of every morsel of food in the 13 day saga, not unlike the photo from Italy currently.

      Post crisis, she and every other housefrau returned all the canned & bottled goods for a refund, such a coveted item and then not so much.

    2. jefemt

      No kidding— bleak bleak bleak!

      I imagine you have either read, or eschewed, The Dog Stars, by Crowdoradan Peter Heller. Dystopian near future flu bug global warming apocolypse—fly fishing for trout evolves to warm water species — carp and suckers in the Never Summers…

      I think of my family, with epilepsy in the mix, my dear friend on insulin, and the utter fragility of us all.

      We Become The Other.

      Hang in there!

    3. Samuel Conner

      Decades ago, I lived on brown rice and spotted beans. It was cheap, easy to prepare, and adequately savory. Both products are still extremely cheap, but not as abundant as I’d like.

      Dried legumes store easily. But use them within a few years. Pintos seem to get very crunchy if you let them dry out too much before cooking.

        1. jrs

          Yea but when the CDC is in the alarm, i’ts not wing nuttery. Wing nuttery I really have no use for, mostly it seems done by extremely unsavory characters indeed. But at this point …you kinda just are paying attention.

      1. Brooklin Bridge

        Me too, and so far there is no run on anything except face masks.

        But the cashier looked at my cart and said, “getting prepared, eh?” Then she told me her father had gone out last night and gotten a supply of food and medicine items for her. And the pharmacist told me when to come in for face masks, under her breath. So I know people are aware, just not panicked yet.

    4. Yves Smith Post author

      Grocery stores in America collectively have 4000 calories on their shelves per person. That is over 2x per person what is needed. Remember stores restock daily.

      This does not include the stuff in the back and warehouses.

      And Americans get ~18% of their calories from food eaten away from home.

      Plus Americans waste about 20% of their food.

      In other words, system-wide, America has a shitload of food. I don’t think some stockpiling will do much harm.

  40. Bill Carson

    I should mention that I have a daughter with Celiac, so I’m going to have to be thoughtful about obtaining gluten free food. She also has Type 1 Diabetes, so have to think about insulin, and the evil insurance companies will only let you buy so much per month.

  41. Zulupe Chingado-Montezuma

    It’s the classic fat tail: the odds aren’t high, but the consequences are pretty bad.

    tail fatness = odds (i.e., fatter tail means higher odds relative to normal distribution)
    tail length = severity of consequences

  42. freedomny

    One of my sisters and her husband are both doctors and typically not alarmists at all. Yesterday she told me her husband had bought a month or two of MRE’s. They also stocked up on tons of medicines. I was shocked. I cook a lot so I have plenty of pasta, rice, beans and canned goods to last me a while. I also happen to live near Saratoga Springs National Park where they have public springs you can fill your water bottles for free. In terms of vegetables – I do have a backyard and plan to start a garden this spring. Last year I bought a sprout starter and seeds and it only takes a week to get sprouts to eat for sandwiches or salads. Also I’ve been able to grow leafy greens and herbs hydroponically using mason jars in additional to the aero garden I have. My biggest issue is getting a 3 month supply of a medication I take….my insurance will only pay for it monthly so I will have to pay out of pocket. As an extended family – most of the grown ups live upstate NY in the Capital region/Saratoga County and the kids live in the NYC region. If it comes to it – the kids would either work remotely (if allowed) or quit their jobs if it became bad and move in with parents/relatives who have the room.

  43. Dalepues

    Peanuts. I buy them raw and roast them in their shells in the oven, 350 degrees for about fifteen minutes. You can also buy them already roasted in #10 cans, salted or lightly salted. Peanut butter, creamy or crunchy. I like the Peter Pan brand but I imagine any peanut butter will do. Jelly for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Bread freezes well usually.

  44. Lupemax

    Yves – re your last comment about children and corona…

    from a trusted, knowledgeable friend who wishes to remain anonymous:

    It was thought that children may not be vectors. However, the data from China is not trustworthy. If a child did not show severe symptoms, they would not be tested in China. Iran has cases where young children with coronavirus are on ventilators. People wonder whether the immune system of children is stronger to deal with a virus. Also, children don’t have the preexisting conditions that make people susceptible to serious effects from the corona virus such as diabetes, kidney and heart problems. There are people concerned with the spread through children. Although children may not have severe symptoms, they could still transmit it as is the case with other types of influenza. I believe that is the reason why schools are closed in many countries, the fear that it would be spread among children and then brought home.

    1. Bill Carson

      Could it be that Trump put Pence in charge so that if the response is awful that Trump can throw him under the bus?

      1. Samuel Conner

        That’s my “first glance” take too. But on reflection there may be more nuance to it.

        Pence has been a loyal subordinate from the moment he was tapped as VP candidate. His job, to some extent, appears to be to do things that might damage the Pres if they don’t turn out well.

        So this may not be any kind of “betrayal” of MP by DJT; it might simply be “more of the same”

        Also, if it does turn out poorly, and Pence does serve his (what looks to me to be) function of “political human shield” for the President, I think it quite likely that DJT will defend him in public from whatever criticisms are made. Per Macchiavelli, often quoted by an NC commenter, princes must consistently punish disloyalty and reward loyalty.

  45. phemfrog

    One piece of good news, IMO, is that nearly 80% of US food is produced in the US from US inputs.–made-food-produce/article_a76f95f0-5857-11e8-8922-47f84163101f.html

    I was worried that we might get screwed into hunger by importing too much foreign food. I know we rely on industrial equipment from overseas (so that might dampen production if we have maintenance issues), but at least we dont have to start from scratch. I also take into account how much food the US wastes. Being forced to ration it a little might be a good thing in the long run.

    In my own family, my brother booked a trip to Spain and the UK for spring break, but they are thinking of cancelling. They are not really worried about catching the virus, but more worried about being stuck in some quarantine for weeks (and the effects that would have on his job and kids’ schooling). I’m glad we are driving in the states for ours.

  46. Ignim Brites

    Seems like we can expect 3 million people in US to die by the end of next year. 50% infection rate. 2% mortality. We might just have to accept this and move on. The question is just how sick and for how long are the remaining 98% of those infected. Some percentage we know will be asymptomatic. What % will require hospitalization, etc. Only when this is clearer can we begin to imagine the economic disruption, which could be made worse by government psychosis.

    In the meantime, get current on flu and pneumonia vaccines. Get enough sleep. Stock up on canned foods not requiring cooking as power supplies might be unreliable.

    And government should address in some way, the vulnerability of the homeless population.

    1. Bill Carson

      2% mortality rate when there is really good healthcare to care for these people? What happens when all the hospital beds are full? What’s the mortality rate then??

    2. Samuel Conner

      From the Johns Hopkins CSSE pandemic dashboard, one can compute the ratio of died/recovered for whatever region, or combination of regions, one wants, and for

      China ex Hubei,

      from beginning of reporting, the ratio “#died/#recovered” currently (as of about midnight US time Feb 26) stands at 1.1%

      This ratio is sure to fall in coming days and weeks; most of the likely to die patients have already died. The ratio daily #died/ daily #recovered for this region for 2-25 to 2-26 was about 0.8%. My guess is the “from start of reporting” ratio will asymptote to somewhere between 1.0% and 0.5%

      My guess is that in US this is going to be like a mid-to-high-single-digit multiple of the current flu-season, which is not an end-of-world scenario, but will still be very bad and will severely overtax the capacity of the health-care system. I think it may “break it” in the sense that there is not enough capacity to properly care for the case load. Our health care system is run by managers who are more concerned, it appears to me, with ROI than with resilience, and systems that are finely tuned to maximize ROI are not going to have a lot of spare capacity to deal with unprecedented changes in demand for services.

      An intriguing possibility raised by a commenter yesterday is that this could severely financially damage the insurers (and, one might add, the re-insurers), who (one would guess and probably be quite right) may not have been taking adequate account of the possibility of events of this kind in their risk models. It might be a strong argument for the necessity of USG as “insurer of last resort” and, given that once here, COVID-19 will become a seasonal epidemic, once USG has become the last-resort payer, it may as well become the first-resort payer as well. Few will be able to afford what the insurers will want to charge to cover future cost of care in this new seasonal epidemic.

      Failure of private and for-profit insurance under the stress of a new endemic disease might be arriving at just the right moment in the history of the evolution of US governance.

      There might be a silver downy undercoat to this “black swan”

      I just hope that Sanders’ keeps his immune system strong. I’ll be working on mine. I want to live long enough to see him drive the neoliberals out of both houses of Congress.

      1. Lil’D

        FYI your calc is an order of magnitude low

        #deaths/#recovered on JHU data as of today, in Hubei

        2,641 / 23,383 = 11.3% death rate

        1. Samuel Conner

          In Hubei — yes. But the total number recovered in that province is surely massively undercounted since the epidemic was already well-progressed there before counting even started, so I think it is a valid procedure to remove the in Hubei numbers from the all China numbers; we know that the in Hubei numbers are not an accurate representation of the state of the epidemic or of the distribution of outcomes.

          China ex (outside of) Hubei is IMO a much more reliable guide to what to expect long term In other countries with health systems at or above the level of China’s. I believe that the stated numbers for “mainland China other than Hubei” are accurately calculated from the JHU CSSE data.

          1. Samuel Conner

            Also, as a minor detail, readers who want to track this for themselves should note that the proxy death rate estimate should be computed as “#died/(#died + #recovered)” since “died + recovered” (which is the same as “# of cases with known outcomes”) is a better proxy for “# cases” than is “#recovered” alone.

            My statement of the ratio in the original comment as “#died/#recovered” is not correct (and does not reflect the formulas in the spreadsheet), though the difference from the properly stated ratio is small when #recovered >> #died.

            The above calculated proxy death rates for “mainland China outside of Hubei province” for “known outcomes from start of reporting” (~1.1%) and for “new outcomes in the period 2-25 to 2-26” (~0.7%) were calculated using the correct “died + recovered” number for “# cases with known outcomes.”

    3. WhoaMolly

      The 2% fatality number sounds like a reasonable guess.

      (I am not a pro in this field. Purely an uneducated gawker.)

      1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

        The 2% or thereabouts mortality rate is based on receiving good healthcare, if it is not available the death rate will rise accordingly.

  47. urblintz

    Magnesium, whereas not specific to viral prophylaxis, is still a very good and inexpensive way to boost one’s health on many levels: anti-inflammatory, regulates blood pressure, sugar and insulin, anti-depressant and helps with protein/amino acid interaction for energy.

    I have read that it’s best to look for Magnesium lycinate glycinate for maximum absorption as there are many different types sold. Magnesium oxide, the most common, is the least effective and can lead to digestive issues..

    1. Samuel Conner

      I think one wants “reduced” rather than “oxidized” trace elements.

      I have the impression that “citrates” tend to absorb better than “oxides”, too, though I welcome correction from those who have more specific information.

      1. urblintz

        I’m not a pro nor a supplement specialist in any way but yes I think you are right, that “citrates” are better than “oxides.” Most magnesium sold seems to be magnesium oxide so one should look. It was a friend who tipped me off to magnesium lycinate glycinate – not as easy to find (don’t mean to promote a brand but I use “Doctor’s Best” High absorption Mag).

    2. dougie

      My wife has me taking magnesium L-Threonate to alleviate muscle cramps. I could not take much of the typical OTC magnesium due to it causing lower GI issues. It works well, and increases the efficacy of the amino acid L-Serene (2,000mg) at bedtime, for sleep issues. She buys both online, not sure the vendors,

  48. rd

    My understanding is that viruses like these can hide in tiny bits of mucus on the hands and surfaces. That is why straight alcohol may not be effective, as it is not good at penetrating the outer junk to get to the live bits. This is why hand-washing with soap is important. The soap contains surfactants that breaks things up and the physical rubbing and water flow also break up and dislodge things. Whacking it with alcohol afterwards is more effective then because it is more likely to get to the viruses.

    Hand dry with single use paper towels in public settings. Air dryers will blow the viruses around and aid transmission. Frequently wash hand towels at home.

    Some of the best products if you don’t have a sink and water are disinfectant wipes that contain a combo of surfactants and disinfectant (often benzyls, if not bleach or alcohol). Baby wipes are good for frequent use and then more aggressive ones for extreme cases. So I am slowly getting some disinfectant wipes of various types for surfaces and hands, as well as hand sanitizers (better than nothing – you can also put them on paper towels/kleenex and make a wipe) and lots of bar and liquid hand soaps for sinks.

    Glasses and screen cleaners contain alcohol in them and it is good to wipe down your electronics, like phones and computer mice, with them regularly after cleaning your glasses.

    My suspicion is that zinc glucomate lozenges may have some preventative ability as they can prevent/reduce severity of cold virus symptoms that are similar viruses. I don’t think they are doing any clinical testing on this for coronavirus.

    I had a pneumococcus vaccine a number of years ago that should reduce the likelihood/severity of a secondary pneumonia infection.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Is there possibly a drying lotion for coating one’s hands that would block and hold the virus and also be easy to wash off with soap and water? I am skeptical about the effectiveness of alcohol in killing the virus. Wasn’t there a lot of back-and-forth about how ineffectual it was to wipe an arm with an alcohol wipe before administering a shot?

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Please do not spread disinformation. I had a link in the post on this. I suggest you read it.

        You do need to let the 60%-70% alcohol sit for 10+ seconds, then wipe. Spraying and wiping immediately is what is not effective, not the alcohol.

    2. oldtimer

      Does any forecast factor in the loss of medical care workers to this disease? Poor sleep, constant stress and over-exposure could make them especially susceptible.

    3. oldtimer

      Google ‘Diy hand sanitizer’ — easily made from a combo of rubbing alcohol/ or vodka plus aloe vera gel plus essential oil if wanted. But be cognizant that sanitizers kill bacteria, not viruses. Still, a good habit while in public when you can’t hand-wash frequently.

  49. tegnost

    I’m going with lots of hand washing and keeping my fingers out of my eyes. I’ve got lot’s of social distance out here on the island, but washington state ferry is a problematic vector and the people I come in contact with get around the region so I’m likely to be exposed at some point. Stocking up rice pasta and potatoes. I cook beans (cannallini, garbonzo, kidney) with a bay leaf and use some and freeze the rest, do not add salt or salty meats to beans when cooking! and make soups also eating some and freezing the rest, and freeze meats so that I can make it a couple of weeks but am in the process of stocking up. Yves, to vegetables an option is to blanch cauliflower broccoli etc for 1 minute then divide into qt. freezer bag servings. For those who cook onion celery
    carrots and canned tomatoes lend to lots of good things, especially if you have a wide range of spices. Lentils/split peas are easier than beans but I hear there are problems with them as consistent (multiple times a week) sustenance. I would say that since I have to travel to get to the store I’m more in tune with what I need, and it will be a lot easier for me to tweak my supply process, so from the prep side of things it’s a good idea to at least do some experimenting to see what you need, for instance how much coffee do you drink in 2 weeks, and in 10years out here I forgot half and half once in the early years and that won’t happen again! That all said I rely on the freezer and frig and if they go out it’s a problem, to say the least. Hand washing and don’t touch your eyes, and also as yves recommends wipe the grocery cart everywhere you might possibly touch it. Touch screens, ubiquitous as they are becoming, are a problem, as is prepared sandwiches, especially if you aren’t watching the person making the sandwich. Frequent businesses that wash their hands in front of you. Take care all.

    1. Anon

      One more aid: Riced cauliflower and broccoli might help in getting easy to eat veggies into a meal. Major groceries carry them, now….

  50. Madeleine

    Yves, this has nothing to do with prepping but invaluable nevertheless. I grew up with my grandparents in our home; my grandfather had multiple operations for cancer, eventually a tumor in his throat with a tracheotomy. My grandmother had dementia more or less by the age I was conscious of her. All this to say, I grew up with home care workers around. When my mother couldn’t take care of my grandmother, she put her in a nursing home but visited and hand fed her daily. I spent my childhood at a nursing home.

    So here is the advice: go out of your way to be kind to the caregivers. There is no comparison in the quality of care and attention they give to people who treat them well. My grandmother was catheterized for ten years and never got a urinary tract infection; that wasn’t due to my mother’s efforts alone. And you never know who will help you when you need it.

    I’m sure you already know this, but I lived it so vividly that I have to pass it on.

    1. WhoaMolly

      Similar experience with a family member who has been institutionalized with early onset Alzheimer’s. When I visit, I’m continually impressed with the level of care and concern in the nursing home.

      We found a good one. We were fortunate in being able to research the local nursing homes easily. A relative works for a hospital supply company. He visited all the homes regularly, and recommended the one we chose. Not all are created equal.

    2. mle detroit

      +1. And consider, if there’s room, making your garden big enough to share the crop with your yardman and the caregivers

  51. eg

    Full disclosure: I have just enough of a biochemistry background to be dangerous to myself. Having said that, I’m mostly fatalistic where epidemics are concerned. Human populations have been disease reservoirs forever, and there’s a dynamic interplay between these and those of other species which is a feature, not a bug. It’s evolution at work.

    Whatever Covid-19 is, it’s not a slate wiper. My prediction (for whatever that’s worth) is that the garden variety flu will quietly kill more people this year than Covid-19, H1N1, SARS and West Nile virus combined …

    1. WhoaMolly

      The numbers seem to be leaning toward a 2% fatality rate for Covid-19. Flu runs about 0.1 %. If this is true, the fatality rate of Covid-19 is 20x that of the flu.

      I’m alarmed by the “it’s just the same as the flu” meme. I think it is something completely different. Our local hospital chain is dispensing the “Oh, same as flu” meme. I think this prevents people from taking reasonable, non-panic, precautions. Simple things like buying two week’s groceries instead of one. Or buying two rolls of surgical tape instead of one. If we have to stay inside for a week or two, no big deal. If we don’t it all gets used anyway.

      Again… I’m just an ignorant old web surfer. I listen to epidemiologists and MDs on YouTube and try to filter out what sounds reasonable. I tried to read the CDC and government recommendations, and found only patronizing press releases and generalities in the a “move along, nothing to see here” tone. That alarmed me as much anything else I heard/read.

    2. ShamanicFallout

      Why the new coronavirus may not be new at all
      The ”new” coronavirus has recently started turning up in places where there’s no plausible connection with an infection source in China. One likely reason for this could be that the virus has been around us for a long time; and it has been routinely diagnosed as a common cold or the flu, in the absence of the sophisticated and targeted testing that’s now being applied.
      This isn’t an unlikely scenario; remember, AIDS was present and active in the world population for several decades before it was finally identified. Generally speaking, one only identifies viruses if one is actively looking for them; and all over the world, if someone comes in to a clinic or doctor’s office with a fever and cough, the diagnosis of flu is made without any testing, probably close to 100% of the time. No one ever sends samples off for testing unless an impressive pile of people are suddenly dropping dead.
      Because of this, a virus like the new coronavirus might skate by under the radar without being ID’d for many years. The fact that the virus’ symptoms are mild–or even completely absent– in most cases is another argument in favor of the idea that it’s been infecting people for a long time. Viruses that immobilize or kill their hosts tend to ameliorate over time; the strains that cause milder symptoms tend to propagate more effectively. The fact that this outbreak of corona has so many patients with few to no symptoms argues for a degree of endemic immunity based on prior exposure.
      In other words, it’s entirely possible that we’ve been living with this virus all over the world for some time now; we just didn’t know it. The epidemiology is slowly beginning to suggest that; but there’s no drama to be found there and it doesn’t make a very interesting news story.
      The fact that we first noticed the virus at a live market in China does NOT by default mean it originated there. A great deal of confirmation bias plays into that story line. It seems very possible that the live market is just the first place we started looking for it, because of the SARS experience.
      If all this is true, the world reaction—which is already overblown—may be staggeringly overblown. Medical resources ought to be devoted to evaluating this possibility by conducting tests in areas where the virus definitely cannot have penetrated yet.

      1. cuibono

        I concur. too much is unknown here. this is real possibility. it is ideas like your that are not getting any air time.

        It is also possible that the folks in wuhan might be partiulalry sensitive due to a cross reaction with another close cousin that they have been recently exposed too

        1. Cuibono

          The recent WHO report on China seems to disprove this theory. This does appear to be a novel infection. However, until such time as serology is available that cant be known for sure IMO

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          If the theory that the virus has been around is correct, it could be that what we are seeing is a second wave mutation into a more virulent form.

          In other words, it may have been a lot less nasty initially.

  52. Wukchumni

    I have no idea what the average price of a new gun-holster etc. & ample supply of ammo would run you, but lets say $500.

    Lots of people were persuaded to go out and get armed & dangerous, especially so during the Obama is gonna git our gats unfounded fear, when Wal*Mart ammo shelves got raptured.

    A good many of these guns have probably never been fired.

    Very few of them bought $500 worth of canned food, @ around $1.50 per can, that is 333 meals not missed.

    I could see supermarkets emptying out, and hordes of previous hoarders in the cylinderella story, turning their guns into cans when hunger strikes midnight.

    1. WhoaMolly

      Yeah. I’ve been around guns all my life. As a kid, with hunting, later in the military. We keep a weapon for varmits, and the rare rabid skunk.

      Came close to wasting an innocent rattlesnake once. Thankfully he quit sunning himself in the kids play area and meandered away before I had to pull out the 12 gauge.

      If our experience during recent evacuations during wild fires is any predictor, people will tend to pull together and help each other in an emergency. There seems to be an instinctive knowledge that a cooperating group is protection.

  53. Krystyn Walentka

    Following up on urblintz above with the magnesium but in another direction.

    It is funny how people are not used to not going without food, even going with less. So, gain weight now. Fat will help sustain you during a fast. Get magnesium, there are few nutrients you need more than magnesium and more so when you cannot eat a lot.

    This man was on a therapeutic fast for 382 days and all he needed was magnesium:

    Forget vitamin C, there is only evidence it helps people who are low. Instead, get zinc and specifically zinc lozenges. There is SO much more evidence that it helps with coronaviruses.

    Also, if you are taking calcium stop for the time being. They are finding that the virus attaches to an enzyme called Furin even more than ACE2. This enzyme uses Calcium as a cofactor (more calcium = more enzyme activity).

    Getting the virus is not bad. It is having a cytokine storm from the virus that is bad. IMHO, more attention should be on care rather than prevention. Keeping the cytokine response in check will save your life. This is where zinc comes in again. Zinc deficiency induces the production of cytokines.

    I am totally against prepping and food hoarding. It is just the worst of individualism and capitalism to me. I would be that most people already have enough food in their house to last them a month if they did not waste and eat too much. I will have the normal mount of food a homeless guy in his van normally carries.

    1. WhoaMolly

      Yes, fasting is a realistic option. Good for physical and mental well-being too.

      The problem is panic. People who don’t have experience with fasting won’t be able to easily slip into fasting mode. Even something as mild as just eating one meal a day has health benefits. My experience is that it takes a little practice to train the mind/body to fast joyfully. Not the kind of practice that people are likely to undertake when they are freaked out.

    2. Lil’D

      Re last paragraph
      But we see possibilities of lockdown at short notice
      I’m not confident everyone in the quarantine zone will get taken care of by any agency…
      I have stocked up on ~2 months provisions
      We will eat them eventually

      1. Krystyn Walentka

        The thing I have with INDIVIDUAL preppers is that why not leave it in the store? Why don’t people see the grocery store as a prepper’s storage unit?

        Prepping is inherently selfish IMO.

      2. WhoaMolly

        Re: lockdown at short notice

        I’ve been astonished at the speed of the reaction in the US. Five days ago, my neighbors and family thought I was a fearful elderly guy for saying “we could be locked down immediately. This could be worse than we think.”

        today–just days later–a sudden lockdown, and possible emergency is ‘common knowledge’. Everyone accepts it. Masks disappeared about two days ago. The age of the Internet? Interesting to watch.

        Have set aside about three weeks worth of supplies for us, a couple grandkids, and their parents. Just in case.

        Off now to run errands. Will fill the car with gas while I’m out.

        Be well.

        1. carl

          You’re right. In my unscientific survey of people around me, everyone is aware, and a lot of people are taking precautions.

    3. c_heale

      I’m not sure that it is a cytokine storm that causes the problem. If it was the pattern of age related deaths would be similar to the 1918 flu. It”s not. From what I have read, the virus itself is the problem.

      1. Krystyn Walentka

        Viruses do not do anything on their own. The cases of pneumonia are caused by our immune reaction to the virus, ie, cytokines.

        Once SARS-CoV-2 gets inside the human respiratory tract, it’s thought to infect and multiply in cells lining the airway, causing damage that kicks the immune system into action. In most people, it should trigger a wave of local inflammation, recruiting immune cells in the vicinity to eradicate the pathogen. The immune response then recedes, and patients recover.

        For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, some people—especially the elderly and sick—may have dysfunctional immune systems that fail to keep the response to particular pathogens in check. This could cause an uncontrolled immune response, triggering an overproduction of immune cells and their signaling molecules and leading to a cytokine storm often associated with a flood of immune cells into the lung. “That’s when you end up with a lot of these really severe inflammatory disease conditions like pneumonia, shortness of breath, inflammation of the airway, and so forth,” says Rasmussen.

        There are different pathways that can cause a cytokine storm. It might be that H1N1 and SARS-COV produce cytokines in these different pathways that result in the different outcomes.

    4. notabanktoadie

      Thanks a heap for the magnesium tip when fasting!

      Also, motivational aids like books and articles on fasting help.

  54. shinola

    “Some are going into coronavirus prepper mode. Does this make sense, and if so, what precautions are worthwhile?”

    Make sense? No. Isn’t there a flu season every year?

    Precautions? Whatever precautions you normally take during cold/flu season. Those with conditions that make them particularly vulnerable to transitioning into pneumonia may want take extra precautions (as they should do every cold/flu season).

    Either you will catch this thing or you won’t. If you do, it appears that there’s a 97%-98% chance you’ll survive.

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      I’m not a doctor (really) but I so far I agree with this. I think a panic, and all things associated with it, will create larger issues.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        The CDC does not agree with you (emphasis mine):

        To avoid spreading a virus, [what you should do is] very similar to what is recommended during flu season, which is to cover your cough, stay home if you’re not feeling well, wash your hands. In addition to that, there’s some good guidance on the Web site [at] that recommends some actions that people can take now in order to prepare their homes if there is community disruption. Some of the recommendations on that are to make sure that families have supplies of their medications and [to] have stores of food and other household supplies just so that if there is a time when it’s not a good idea to go out into a community space, you have enough at home in order to keep yourself comfortable.

    2. Samuel Conner

      The current seasonal flu season does not involve such extreme “social distancing” measures as appear to be regarded to be necessary in China, and now in parts of Europe.

      Preparing for possible disruptions in one’s ability to procure necessities (these disruptions might be voluntary, and not imposed by civil authority, if one is especially vulnerable to the disease, as it is clear some subpopulations are) does not seem unreasonable to me.

      As to the question of whether one should simply take a deep breath, resign oneself to contracting the disease, and lean into the headwind,…

      Given the certainty that this will at some point in not distant future become a seasonal epidemic and the possibility that one could become infected in future seasons, it seems to me to make a LOT of sense to try to avoid contracting it each and every season. “Small” probabilities add up over time.

      P(survival, N seasons, infected in each season) = [1 – P(mortality, one infection)] ^ N

      That gets alarmingly low for N larger than “a few” if P(mortality, one infection) is as high as 2%

      My private guess is that P(mortality) is below 1%, but the math is still not great if one catches this every year.

  55. Wukchumni

    The situation here is a perfect excuse to start an orchard, although the best time was a decade ago. Get going, its a way easier commitment than a dog.

    Had a Cara Cara navel orange from the tree yesterday, not bad, but the savor will only increase in flavor the longer left on limb.

    1. Paul O

      We have a rather small garden but the one apple and one apricot tree we planted when we moved in 10 years back can be quite productive now (the apricot blossoms really early – blossoms covered in snow again this morning – so the yield is really hit or miss) . We have several soft fruit bushes which are also typically very productive, the berries last well in the freezer for smoothies.

      Almost no maintenance required – and even less given :-(

  56. RJMcElroy

    In this comment section there is a wealth of information from various parts of the world. The problem in getting medicine is a huge issue. It is estimated that 70% of medicines or their ingredients come from China and India. Take the medicine heparin used to treat pulmonary emboli, thrombophlebitis and necessary for most cardiovascular procedures already in short supply and China is the main supplier. Need a coronary artery stent and no heparin, that ‘s a problem.

    The picture of Covid-19 at present may be analogous to a puzzle with 1000 pieces of which you THINK you know the place of 75 pieces. I would add one piece of information about another viral illness common in the Orient—hand, foot and mouth disease. In China and Vietnam it carries a relatively high infant/ toddler mortality rate. The same disease in the US is benign without mortality. ??? genetic differences or something else.

    To add to the gardners thoughts of interest. Native Americans grew what was know as the “three sisters”–corn, beans and squash. The corn seed was planted in a small mound that contained a dead fish for fertilizer, a bean seed for a climbing bean on the corn stalk and a squash seed. The large squash leaves mostly eliminated the need for weeding. A neighbor had planted dozens of “three sisters” and it an impressive and nutritious sight.

    Judith thanks for the drug list link.

  57. Brooklin Bridge

    Moisturizing cream, or some such, is helpful to keep hands from going raw from all that washing. May not affect everyone, but my hands get a little beat up if I wash them every half hour or so.

  58. Democrita

    Re: food stocks.
    Many years ago I worked in a restaurant and discovered that eggs don’t really need to be refrigerated. If the shells are not breached, they will keep at room temperature for months. If one gets cracked, you’ll find it by smell. And if you open one that looks funky, don’t eat it. Most will be fine.

    Quiche is basically scrambled egg pie. You can buy premade crusts, scramble up whatever you like with some eggs and a bit of milk, and toss it in a toaster oven for 20 minutes or so, til the eggs are firm. Quiches freeze well. Of course, you can just bake the egg mixture, too, skipping the crust and pie formation.

    1. Travis Bickle

      I could be wrong, but this does not work with most eggs, and especially those you buy down at the local supermarket. There is some sort of membrane that gets washed off in processing for mass consumption (or something…..someone out there knows the details). The eggs you normally get will last a few weeks, but only with a fridge.

      In either case, you can tell when they start to go south by putting them in water. When a tiny bit of air gets into them they start to stand up on end, at which point you need to eat them up. Once they float it’s too late. The problem is air getting into them through microscopic pores or whatever.

      1. annie

        very true.
        eggs in u.s. almost always need refrigerating. even those from farmers’ markets, because of how they’re treated (the membrane washed off).
        in italy, eggs are not refrigerated in supermarkets or elsewhere because they’ve not been treated.

        1. Democrita

          I have not refrigerated my eggs for years now because they cook better that way — including eggs from my local supermarket. I mostly try to buy ‘organic’ or whatever (my faith in the claims is relatively low) now but at any rate I have never had any problems. I did freak out some of my friends and family at first. They’re used to it now.

          I freely acknowledge I am neither a medical nor agricultural expert. Take the advice, like your eggs, with a few grains of salt then.

          1. Paul O

            We have never refrigerated eggs (UK). Never had any issues. Eat plenty of them – sometimes raw on steak.

    2. skk

      “real men don’t eat quiche”.

      That’s my attempt at humor since this is quite a depressing thread.

      That phrase was a ’80s book – quite the meme then. I’ve long forgotten what it meant.

  59. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Yves.

    The chlorinated chickens are coming home to roost. The recruitment agency parasites working for the NHS in Buckinghamshire and Kent have put out feelers to former staff, many of whom are EU27 or Windrush migrants no longer wanted by Brexitannians, to come back and help with any Coronavirus pandemic. The feeling in response is sometimes to go long popcorn and watch the natives eager to “get Brexit done” and vote for neo-liberal, blue, red and yellow, promises of high quality public services at low cost marinate in their own juice.

  60. orlbucfan

    If alcohol is an effective disinfectant, wouldn’t that list also include bleach, ammonia, and hydrogen peroxide? Just wondering. Thanks.

  61. skk

    re: stocking up.
    Rice in 10 and 20 lb bags was freely available yesterday in a Southern Californian Persian-own chain. Long grain Basmati and another export from India. At “weekly special” prices ( 25% or so off ) and all. That’s the only reason I bought some more. Not at like the “great Rice Shortage” of 200X – when Costco ( in CO ) limited people to 2 v.large imported long-grain rice ( and the type from the far east ) bags. But even then Calrose rice was plentiful – I must try Calrose one day – just to get used to its taste, size, texture.

    Medicine – I called my my online Canadian pharmacy but they won’t refill my US 90 day prescription because its “too early”. I need to wait for the full 8 weeks from the prior refill before they will. Even after I pleaded “supply chain” disruption potential. Even though there’s no insurance intermediary preventing the early refill. Surprising but OTOH, comforting that I’m working with a reputable pharma. Besides, I’m only hoarding because others will and we’ll get a “run on the bank”. So if they are going to apply the natural demand constrictor then its ok, and equitable. Besides its only 2 more weeks to wait. and there are more besides too – like if push comes to shove I’ve got medico friends. And people in India – in pharma.. Famous last words ? Haven’t tried this for the ones I fill at the local costco where the part payee is Medicare Part D. Not much point I thought, and all the above “besides” apply.

    Masks – My wife volunteers at the local hospital ( yeah she’s a saint). She said there are notices up for people coming in , asking them if they’ve got symptom X, symptom Y ? in which case they are asked to put on a mask from the box on the table and notify the front desk. I thought – “wait, what’s this notify biz.. they’ve already got the mark of cain on their face ! ” And also.. hey that’s where one could snag a free mask ! :-) Just joking – I would never do that.. Besides we’ve already got a supply available. fat lot of good it would do us IMO. but for other people…

    Booze supply is in.

  62. Wukchumni

    None of us has really known what a plague could do, in a way similar to what thought I gave to tsunamis before the Boxing Day match beat a quarter million of us pesky humans to death.

    There’s never been such an easy scenario to spread one, you can be anywhere in the world in 48 hours if you want, and many do, in tightly congested cabins.

  63. Travis Bickle

    ODDS ARE, based on what is clearly incomplete and very-possibly obfuscated information, this thing will be like another flu, but with no vaccine.

    Actually, what I get is that the best theoretical case is that we can expect to have “some sort” of vaccine available in 18 months if all goes perfectly: it might or might not be terribly effective even then, and it will probably mutate by anyway (as with the flu). Meanwhile, what is known for sure is that current screening tests are in short supply and demonstrably ineffective. Apart from that, many people are showing no symptoms, but still managing to be carriers, so the odds of this going worldwide, and quickly, are pretty much absolute.

    This may be a great herd culler, or it may be nothing more than another flu, that burns out with warmer weather, but, we really just do not know!

    What seems clear to me, if not this one, the next one, will be a real killer.

    Along with deteriorating infrastructure and the just-in-time supply chains mentioned repeatedly above, we all need to take steps to harden our particular shelters. The best case is that this will be a wake-up call from the real thing which definitely will be arriving, if not sooner then later.

    Summarizing the not-so-simple common sense of above: get more self-sufficient, with a community of folks with whom to trade & trust, sharing skills and resources.

  64. Dita

    I’m in ok shap, could probably last a month foodwise if I need to self quarantine, and I have enough paper products and meds on hand to last longer if need be. I don’t consider myself a prepper exactly, just a veteran of 3 blackouts in NYC, 2 fires and Hurricane Sandy, so my prep is biased toward the possibility iffy drinking water or not having electricity.
    I’m more concerned about my parents who live in another state. I also have elderly neighbors so I’ll be checking in on them.

  65. Wukchumni

    Was just talking to my mom who reminded me of the Norovirus episode in her assisted living place over xmas that she missed out on, being in Denver.

    30 out of 50 residents were sick, throwing up, etc. When she got back everybody was on mandatory 5 day quarantine in their rooms.

  66. 115kV

    When I read about all the prepping here, I am wondering about outages of electricity, water and fuels. Everybody is assuming that the refrigerator keeps chugging and the lights are on. All of the electric utilities I’m aware of have gone “lean six sigma” to one degree or another, which means low inventories of everything, especially qualified people.

    Think of the control center for a nuclear power plant or an electric grid — people are crowded together, share locker rooms and bathrooms, have to enter through airport-like security, etc. Its like working in a petri dish.

    I would be very curious to know how China or South Korea is handling this problem. Obviously if you lock down a city and manufacturing and shopping close, demand is going to be halved or more. But the personnel problem is still there. Nothing but happy talk a month ago from Xinhua and State Grid.

    A quick search didn’t turn up anything — not a single word — regarding preparations from FERC or NERC (North American Electric Reliability Corporation, the de facto regulator).

    1. Anon

      This same constraint on qualified personnel to operate sophisticated, essential central sanitation systems applies. This infrastructure is not all the same; back-up personnel will need training. And the local tertiary treatment plant uses 60% of the electricity consumed by municipal (not private) business. A broad municpal power outage could lead to a very stinky mess.

    2. Travis Bickle

      This is a real good point: it’s the indirect impact of this virus (and if not this one, then the next) that’s going to really hurt, and a lot more than just stock portfolios. Unless one is totally off-the-grid they’re going to be somewhat vulnerable.

      As far as preparation goes, Ted Kopel did special (PBS?) a few years ago, about how rickety and vulnerable the US energy infrastructure was, quite apart from lean staffing. There are now supplemental gas generators to meet this need, on the assumption that gas supplies will be relatively constant/stable, so generators would only be needed for a few hours/days to keep your lights and refrigeration going. Here’s one:

  67. Jeremy Grimm

    Even though healthy young may be at less risk from dying of this flu — that is the US population, including my son and daughter, I most worry about. A high proportion of this population lives densely packed in our cities and works at jobs putting them in contact with the public. [My daughter works as a bartender in Brooklyn.] Many of them are squeezed so tightly between rent and low pay that they really cannot afford to stop going to work, or sit things out if their employer shuts down. I don’t know about the situation of other young adults but my own children are not ready to last more than a few days eating the food they have in their small pantries and refrigerators. Worse — neither of them believes this could be problem. I’ve spent years trying to get my daughter to cook more of her own meals just to help save a little money. When I suggest that my daughter build a small stack of just-in-case food and keep a couple of containers full of fresh water it goes in one ear and out the other as she nods token agreement.

    freedomny at 10:07 am
    “If it comes to it – the kids would either work remotely (if allowed) or quit their jobs if it became bad and move in with parents/relatives who have the room.”

    It took my daughter so long to find her apartment and roommate and find her current job there is no way she will quit either to come live with parents/relatives.

  68. AstoriaBlowin

    For protein, the most long lasting, cost efficient, easiest intake purchase should be beef gelatin. You can get grassfed, organic etc. from Great Lake and Zint among other suppliers. You can add it to soups, stews, smoothies, make a quick broth, or even home made jello. No freezing required and you can have a few months supply of ready protein.

    For advice on how to prep, Yaneer Bar-Yam, who has done a lot of mathematical modeling on the spread of the disease, has this to offer,

        1. WobblyTelomeres

          Yes. Thank you, thank you very much.

          My dad told me that Elvis’s dad was once a sharecropper on my grandfather’s farm outside of Mantachie. Also, that my grandfather, who died when I was months old, oft enjoyed the company of his sharecropper’s wives. A sordid, rural, history. So, there is my connection to great fame.

          1. judy2shoes

            So, there is my connection to great fame.

            My aunt used to go to the same beauty parlor in Jackson as Eudora Welty. There’s my connection to fame ;)

            In 2003, that same aunt took a road trip with me up to Tupelo from Jackson and then over to Oxford. It was a lovely trip via the Trace, although we didn’t spend much time in Tupelo. Didn’t get to see Elvis’ home. Did wander around the square in Oxford and pondered Faulkner sitting on the bench.

            1. WobblyTelomeres

              Highway 6. Know it well. You certainly passed by a place called Black Zion. 115 years ago, two brothers in Red Bay were told of two Cherokee sisters in Black Zion. They paired off, one stayed in Zion, the other finagled his way into some bottom land near the Tombigbee.

              Did you see Faulkner’s hys, er, wisteria?

              1. judy2shoes

                Apparently, I didn’t ponder long enough to see wisteria; I was afraid that if I stood in one spot too long, the kudzu might get me. I can, however, close my eyes and smell the scent – heady – along with magnolia and gardenia.

                Completely missed Zion and, most likely, many other spots of interest. I had time constraints, unfortunately. Years ago, I thought about doing a bike tour of the Trace, but life got in the way.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Beef gelatine is not a high quality protein:

      Gelatin is classified as an incomplete protein, that is, it is incapable of replacing or building new tissue and hence cannot support life. (Another good example of incomplete protein is the protein in corn.) The reason is that gelatin lacks or is low in some of the essential amino acids. Essential amino acids are those that cannot be synthesized in sufficient amounts by the body and therefore must be provided in the diet. Gelatin contains almost none of the essential amino acid tryptophan and has very small amounts of the essential amino acids threonine, methionine and isoleucine.

      However, gelatin can become a good source of protein if it is consumed at the same meal with any of these protein-rich foods: meat, cheese, milk, eggs or fish.

      You’ll do better, as vegetarians do. of combining incomplete proteins to make a complete protein.

  69. FedUpPleb

    If it’s really the case that : “Go outside” == “Get infected”, then you may as well go outside unless you want to spend the rest of your days indoors.
    If it’s that virulent, basically you have to get it at some point unless you live the rest of your life in the Antarctic.

    This whole thing is the most depressingly middle class of middle class hysterias, coupled with a strong dose of delusional individualism (“I have the money/means to outlast a pandemic all by myself — (unlike the working class)” ). The reality is none of us will last two weeks without a functioning society around us, even if the electricity/water/gas/internet all stay on.

    So if you’re suddenly getting urges to become an overnight, last-man-on-earth (LAMOE), all-contingencies planned for prepper; get a grip.

  70. polar donkey

    People get pneumonia if covid gets you bad. I bought an oxygen concentrator in case someone needs help breathing and an oxygen staturation measurer that goes on your finger tip.

  71. Ignacio

    This morning, while waiting the queue in the bank branch, two masked guys entered. Everybody panicked! Fortunately it was just a robbery!

  72. Lil’D

    I’m going to flog
    From Dr. Greger and friends
    Evidence based discussions of health & nutrition

    If you’ve read or seen “how not to die” or listened to his podcasts

    Bottom line:
    Good health and good immune system from a whole food, plant based diet
    B-12 supplements important as food industry has got it out of most produce ( but your garden veggies probably have it )
    D-3 important
    Vitamin c valuable, can get it from diet, supplements can boost immune system

    Related to ForksOverKnives, Engine 2 diet; lots of knowledge coming out though Dean Ornish’s Lancet article is now 30 years old so it’s not really new
    Top line is that heart disease and diabetes are completely preventable

  73. Pat

    Yves, I’m going to make a couple of assumptions about your lack of cooking skills based on what you say can do. I’m also going to assume that you can scramble an egg. With that in mind I’m going to suggest:

    Jarred Marinara and pasta sauces
    (you can jazz this up with some frozen or fresh vegetables and herbs all of which just cook as it heats)

    Frozen bread dough or rolls
    Box quick bread and/or brownie mixes
    Cornbread mix
    Unsweetened applesauce for the sweeter box mixes (1/4 cup for every egg)
    Egg Replacement which you freeze (follow directions for mixes, personally not a fan for consumption on their own)
    Vegetable oil, plain and olive oil for the mixes along with basic food prep
    Yes this covers dessert, but quick breads can also be breakfast or a quick snack, and corn bread is easy and filling with soups. Mixes are very easy, usually put all the ingredients in one bowl, mix, pour into a greased or nonstick pan, bake at temperature and time on box.

    Plain frozen vegetables besides spinach. Corn, peas, peas and carrots, onions, stir fry mixes.
    Not only are they sides, but corn, Peas, Peas and Carrots, Onions can all be added to canned soups, and some can be added to jarred pasta sauces. This doesn’t just extend them, it can also add to the taste. For regular preparation of stir fry vegetables just throw them in a pan with a little vegetable oil and stir them off and on until they are hot to put with your grilled meat or add them to grains like quinoa or couscous, and once again they can just be added frozen to jazz up a pasta sauce.

    If you have a sunny window sill, start a herb garden. If you don’t invest in a couple of grow lights and start one in a not so sunny window. Fresh herbs are amazing helpful. Basil, thyme, parsley, dill…

    Herbal teas
    If you like cheese, many hard cheeses can be frozen to keep them longer.
    Along with the other toiletries mentioned, I would add Toothpaste.

    Baking Soda
    White Vinegar
    Not only for food preparation, but both keep for a long time and can be used for many cleaning activities.

    I might add some frozen juices, particularly orange. It could be used instead of lemon in some food preparation. And spinach, chard and even kale sauteed with orange juice is damn tasty.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      This is a good list but my mother will eat just about nothing on it. No pasta, for instance. She doesn’t like most frozen veg. Most definitely won’t eat most frozen veg, like corn or peas or carrots. No egg replacement.

  74. ChristopherJ

    A lot of our meals are just in time, made from ingredients bought that day. So, it was with reluctance that I ventured out yesterday and bought some canned goods, rice, oats and long life milk and juices, coffee pods, tea bags. Going again today as, by the time everyone else starts to panic, the shelves will be bare. Petrol for generator, if the power goes, which is why I haven’t stocked up on stuff that needs refrigeration. Beer and wine too are on the list for today.

    Friends pretty unafraid or indifferent about the virus, sort of a belief that it’s overblown or won’t affect them. I prefer a little caution and, as I was on chemo last year, I’d probably die if I got infected, so need to stay firmly at home if things get sporty

  75. Bob

    Haha If this was a Trump black ops attempt to topple Iran which then went onto infect China and rest of the world causing Bernie to be elected

  76. Mason

    Hello. I went prepper crazy about about five days ago though I’ve been slowly stocking up on canned and long lasting goods for about a couple weeks. I just went with canned veggies, pastas, meats that will last a month or more, etc.

    The main thing I did was getting PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). Admittedly, I feel a little silly. I probably over-spent on getting a full face mask. Most folks don’t need a full face gas mask unless they are at risk with poor immune systems or volunteering so I might of just wasted funds. If your budget is limited, your better off spending money on food than a mask.

    If you have the funds though, at least get a half-face mask. Those fabric N95 masks are hard to wear for extended periods of time, even at just thirty minutes. Half face masks are slightly more comfortable, and their cartridges will last longer than a simple fabric mask. 3M brand is industry standard and their products should be enough to protect from viruses. Try to see if it’s ‘P100’ or equivalent protection, meaning it will filter particles by over 99% of a certain size hopefully including the virus. Just remember to wear eye protection as that is likely where the disease enters the body also.

    On a final note, you likely won’t need that many cartridges or filters. Since your not working in dust heavy rooms, the filters might last days or even weeks. Always check the directions though. I wouldn’t ‘bulk’ purchase filters because there will be shortages and first responders and nurses will need em’ more than folks hunkering down. I probably bought a few too many filters and will give them away, hording isn’t a good thing.

    I’ve listened to a youtube channel called Weaponsandstuff93 for mask advise and it seems relatively accurate along with Dr. John Campbell’s reports.

    Good luck!

  77. Phil in KC

    Here in the middle of the country, I see few signs of concern. People going about their business as if nothing was happening.

    I like to panic in a calm manner. I have always kept a supply of canned goods on hand for emergencies that might last up to two weeks, and maybe a dozen flats of bottled water. Since Monday, I have been making early morning forays to the nearest Target for TP, paper towels, antiseptic soap, mouthwash, wipes, trash bags, etc. In the afternoon, trips to the grocery for some staples: rice, canned beans, soup mixes, juices. Laid in some bags of flour, sugar, and raisins. Oh, coffee. I love coffee, and thank goodness it is on sale here. Lots of coffee filters. And an extra can opener! I am planning for a six weeks of supplies.

    One thing I found in short supply: DayQuil and NyQuil. Still found a couple of two packs.

    I am a doorman at a high-end boutique hotel with travelers from around the world. People hand me their car keys, and I get into cars and touch the shifters and steering wheels. I touch door handles and luggage handles. I expect to get the virus, I am simply making sure that my immune system is strong, my nutrition good, and my physical stamina sufficient to make a speedy recovery.

    Our hotel currently is awaiting instructions from Marriott as to proper protocols to follow, and to repeat myself, we are going about our daily routines as if nothing was happening. I expect this hotel to shutter its doors should the virus come on strong in Kansas City.

    My wife suggested we “bug out” to her aunt’s remote farm in NW Arkansas, but I pointed out that we have too many family and friends and neighbors here, and this network of people are essential to our well-being. One thing I remember being told as a child: never, ever, become a refugee–even in your own country. This from my grandparents, who were immigrants fleeing bad conditions in Europe. Shelter in place.

    Off to the garden center once I finish this. I can’t grown anything around here from seed except cucumbers because of birds (even though I feed them well). Any day the spring veggie starters should be in–lettuce, kale, etc. Tomato and pepper plants in another month.

  78. General Jinjur

    I just listened to Redfield (CDC) who said “no” to questions on whether anyone should stock up on food or medicines or cleaning supplies. Apparently it’s too early to be prepared… Right.

  79. TamHob

    I don’t think it is selfish to stock up, if people around you are still pretty complacent, the supermarket seems pretty full and can easily be resupplied. It means you and your family are less mouths to feed once the panicked hoarding does start. If things are getting a little tight then I still think it’s ok to stock up by buying two of your normal shop.

    After all, supermarkets are businesses and need to make a profit. At least in Oz, dry beans, rice and other shelf-stable basics are low turnover/low profit items. By having people buy early and gradually ramping up demand this sends a signal to the market and supermarket that they need to devote more space on shelves and in their very limited storage to these normally unpopular items. Smaller supermarkets literally can’t afford to start getting in extra supplies to feed their communities unless they know they will be able to shift the stock.

  80. tapeats

    I recently received an email from a friend of mine providing a link to reports regarding the covid-19 virus. The claim of those reports are that the virus originated in Wuhan, which is also the location of one of China’s Max containment laboratories conducting bio weapons research. The proposed thesis is that a weaponized form of a virus was leaked from the facility, and spread from there.

    Has anyone come across information regarding that proposition?

    1. PlutoniumKun

      That theory has been around from the beginning, and has been comprehensively debunked. There is nothing about the virus’s structure that suggests genetic engineering. The Chinese version of this ‘theory’, btw, is that it escaped from a US laboratory and was spread by accident or otherwise during the Wuhan Military Games in October 2019.

  81. EMtz

    Making sure I’m stocked up with alternative herbal assistance. When I’ve detected the first regular flu symptom, a dry cough, I frontload with a double dose of echinacea extract, osha root extract and elderberry syrup, plus vitamin C. Then I back off to regular dosage. And lots of fluids, mostly water. While other people suffer through 2 weeks of flu, mine is gone in 2 – 3 days with little more than a runny nose and slight cough. So… perhaps this regimen will work for COVID-19. I would add fresh rosemary and perhaps eucalyptus extract in hot water to inhale the steam (head under towel) to keep the lungs clear. I’m almost 74, the age when the immune system supposedly weakens, but I try to eat properly and keep moving, and these botanicals work for me. Must be doing something right!

  82. TamHob

    The WHO has publicly stated that the rates are holding steady at 80% fine/15% hospitalisation/5% ICU. A little under half of the ICU cases die. This hospitalisation rate is way worse than seasonal flu. Even if it was the same as seasonal flu, the faster infectivity means that hospitals will get slammed with the peak of cases a lot harder. Do the math, no country on earth has the ICU beds for 40%x5%=2% of its population over a short period (WHO is predicting 40-70% infection rates) we also don’t have the ordinary hospital beds. So eventually this means home nursing/tent hospitals with minimal care and death rates will rise substantially – all the ICU cases and a good portion of the hospital ones.

    Finally, this kills people in two ways if you look at the actual patient case study reports. The very old and sick die within a week or so of developing symptoms from the typical respiratory side-effects seen with flu, then comes the second wave at weeks 2-3 of formerly healthy people killed by the auto-immune cytokine storm. Lots of younger people are dying at this point but the lag distorts the stats given the exponential growth rates. Granted though, older sicker people are still disproportionately represented.

    Yes, the politicians are trying to massage the message for the markets but the real stats are out there from reputable sources if you look beyond the mainstream media. Of course, if they totally crash the economy due to panic and quarantines then more people will probably die too. So it’s a conundrum.

    Stuff to stock up for those with very limited space – 2 week’s water per person to ease utility disruptions, a bag of besan or other leguminous flour and some cloth for water filtration (second hand silk is best and cheap) and bleach for water treatment, whole dry beans (not too old) for sprouting on a window sill for greens, DIY disposable mask material using kitchen towel, tissue paper, masking tape and rubber bands. I would also stock 2 week’s food and toilet paper per person to smooth supply shortages. Also vitamin C and multivitamins. Expect to get infected and need to look after yourself/quarantine at home.

    For people with more space I’d stock more of the above, medicinal herbs, alcohol to make tinctures, soap, nursing supplies etc etc, the amount determined by your resources, how complacent people still are around you, how many people you want to be able to help out once the panic begins.

      1. rd

        My suspicion when this is done is that the actual death rate will be about the 0.1% or a bit higher than the flu because there are likely a large number of undiagnosed cases out there. The problem is that there is little existing herd immunity because it is a “novel” disease and so just about everybody can potentially get infected.

        The relatively low number of deaths in Wuhan is probably because the government and the population did a crash quarantine which likely dropped the transmission by a couple of orders of magnitude. One of the things that did was allowed for the worst cases to actually get real care. If many more people had gotten sick, there would likely have been many more deaths because they would have overwhelmed the ability of the healthcare system to care for them.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Stop spreading disinformation. It is a violation of our written site Policies.

          Your statements are abjectly false. And the WHO, who is a hell of a lot better positioned than you to make any call, has just raised its alert to the highest level:

          The National Nurses Union just issued a press release, “Nation’s hospitals unprepared for COVID-19”.

          China’s own CDC, as of about a week ago, published a paper on the results in China so far. Case rate mortality of 2.3%. The WHO puts the case rate mortality at 3%.

          20-30X the death rate of the seasonal flu, which hits 0.1% only in particularly severe flu years, is NOT a low number.

          You are also conflating the infectiousness, which is also high, with its death rate.

          It is also false that the worst cases got care. It was a matter of timing: severe cases early on did get into the emergency hospitals. Those are full. Those who have become severely ill since then were told to stay home.

          There are more than 2x of the reported cases in Hubei of people calling on Weibo for help because they are very sick. That is a known unknown, as to how many have coronavirus (probably nearly all but we don’t know for sure, but their illness and death v. recovery simply won’t be captured as coronavirus cases).


  83. marcyincny

    My ‘prep’: a pistol and a bullet. I won’t stick around to watch what happens to the poor folks who can’t afford to ‘prep’ even if they have some inkling of what that entails.

    If it continues, the reaction of officials and others to date is going to leave lots of people at each other’s throats and I’m too old, too much of a coward to stick around for it if bodies start piling up.

    1. ambrit

      Don’t despair! If it comes down to it, “spread the love” to the pricks who caused this neo-liberal paradise in the first place.
      I’ll take Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death” not as a cautionary tale, but as an instruction manual. There is always Hope! Ibama proved that!

  84. Anarcissie

    This thread is all very interesting but I find it sort of unfocused. People seem to be talking / writing past one another; we have bread machines on the one hand and the Black Death on the other. The first thing to figure out is what you’re prepping for, and how long the situation will last. You can put by enough food, water, gasoline, etc., to last for a few weeks, but if the economy is going to collapse totally that’s not going to do a lot of good. Of course that question is the hard part to figure out.

    1. General Jinjur

      The comments run the gamut because none of us have enough info to predict if we’re preparing for a few weeks or the ‘Black Death’. Depending on what happens some may be less fortunate than others, no matter how much chocolate they’ve stored. ; /. BTW, were you a regular poster way back when GG hadn’t yet moved to The Intercept? Your name is so familiar.

  85. Tom Bradford

    Down here in New Zealand we’ve less reason to be worried than most – one of the most remote places on earth with a small thinly-spread population, a first-rate health service, a competent, generally trusted government and plenty of food if we really have to put the barriers up – there are still eight sheep for every one of us and a huge dairy industry likely to be faced with a huge glut if it can’t get the stuff to China, which presently takes most of it. My only real concern is a drug I need and only have a month’s supply of.

    Even here, tho’, and surely it must be worse elsewhere, is what happens if the truckers stop trucking and the overlooked heroes who run the sewage plants or pick up the rubbish decide to do the sensible thing and stay at home. Even if the goods get to the supermarket why should the put-upon, underpaid check-out operators risk close, face-to-face interaction with hundreds of possibly infected people a day just to make bread available to us?

    It’s all too easy to foresee a “War of the Worlds” type panic being triggered even here, with the truckers, essential service workers and check-out ‘girls’ deciding to look out for number one. A Draconian response by a government invoking a “Blitz” spirit might work here but I’m not sure it would in many places, giving rise to a social breakdown quite unjustified by a ‘logical’ appraisal of the facts.

    Certainly if I were in the US I’d have little ‘faith’ in a Governmental response led by someone who believes prayer is the answer to everything.

    1. Phil in KC

      This is a potential pandemic, not the apocalypse. This is a lousy time to buy gold and silver, as the prices are rising. Save your money. Buy something more useful, like some medical supplies.

      That said, I have heard that the best way to use metals in a crisis is to have some junk silver coins, dimes, quarters, halves and dollars. These are used for trading. However, a roll of toilet paper or an airline bottle of booze are also handy items for trading.

  86. Anthony G Stegman

    I’m wondering where all of this panic and angst is coming from. There is no national state of emergency. And no states have declared any either. A few cities and counties have, primarily for planning purposes. Hoarding is so anti-social, and at this point in time, so unnecessary. Stay calm.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      That was also the advice about the market in early 2007.

      And the CDC disagrees with you, unlike the Fed then, when Bernanke insisted that subprime was “contained”. See here for details:

      This is a highly infectious disease with a <2% mortality rate. Can you not do math?

      And the US depends on China for 80% of its pharmaceuticals, either the actual product or its active ingredients.

    2. rd

      An Administration run by people focused on the financial markets is highly unlikely to declare a state of emergency unless there is literally blood running in the streets. That would virtually guarantee their biggest fear, which is a 50%+ drop in the stock market. This is why Mike Pence has largely shut down “messaging” by the CDC.

      The complete lack of testing for coronavirus in the US means there is virtually no data to understand if it is an issue or not at this time. Since they can’t point to many confirmed cases, there is also no messaging push related to coronavirus as different from the flus that are currently well-established and create coronavirus like symptoms in some people. This is why the Vacaville woman was not tested for almost two weeks.

      I think this Administration is betting that the coronavirus will follow flu season trends and not pick up steam over the next month or two.

  87. chris_gee

    Some comments on a bit of a garden. I suggest 5 sq m would do for two. Don’t bother with space consuming staples eg potatoes corn onions good tho they are.
    Rather the benefits of picking say a salad 5 minutes before eating with a variety of fresh herbs, or fresh rainbow silverbeet or some beans, two minutes before cooking, 5 minutes before eating. Most of the stuff you buy if you can will be days old.
    I grow some 18 vegetables and 18 fruit much of which is given away. However I get to taste and try fresh eggplant, lauki, caigua, thai basil, kohl rabl, mizuma, tatsoi, daikon radish etc. All recommended. If other cultures like it then maybe? Sure better than frozen peas or mixed vegs or prepared salad mixes.
    Work not much really. Mostly watering 10 minutes a day in summer. The rest minimal. Further modern methods eg raised beds minimise digging bending weeding etc. Try a home grown tomato v a refrigerated store bought. Add some basil and thai, fresh lemon juice. Might as well eat well. Cooking is easy – mostly depends on what you cook (if at all) which depends on what you have.
    Pretty relaxing actually – how hard is it to aim a hose?

    1. Lina

      Except it’s February in New England. Though after this drama, I’m going to expand my garden this spring.

  88. Phil in KC

    A nurse told me that when she feels flu-ish, she takes elderberry tablets and a product called Oscillococcinum, a homeopathic remedy. I’ve tried this regimen and it seems to work if you quickly react to symptoms. Of course, I’ve been getting a flu shot every year for the last five years. Wouldn’t be a bad idea to get a box or two.

    1. EMtz

      Totally agree. Also osha root tea/extract and echinacea extract. Beats back flu really quick but, yes, you need body awareness to detect when it first hits.

      Also, what TCM practitioners call Sweat Soup – equally early in the game. Green onions, garlic and ginger chopped and boiled for 8 minutes. I also add a little hot chile. Drink. Bundle up. Go to bed. Sweat. Get up and change clothing and sheets if need be. Gio back to bed and sleep. Breaks a fever before it sets in and clears the lungs.

  89. none

    N95 respirators are useless for viruses. N100 (even harder to breathe through) are supposed to be better. But if you’re exposed to that much virus and you’re not a health worker, it’s basically all over anyway. Surgical masks (easy to breathe through) make a certain amount of sense: not because they filter viruses (they don’t), but because they stop you from infecting yourself by touching your face with your hands.

    Re cooking: I got an Instant Pot (electric pressure cooker) recently and love it. It’s not really instant but it needs almost no skill or attention. Chuck ingredients into pot, set timer, press button, then walk away and ignore until the little valve stem drops. Soups made it in are delicious and ridiculously easy.

  90. JohnB

    Looks like the train service I have booked tomorrow, is the one taken by Ireland’s first coronavirus case :/ (passing through Dublin’s Connolly station, the busiest train station in Ireland)

    Is it paranoid/overkill for me to not want to travel on that service, tomorrow? (my dad is having heart surgery in the coming weeks – and I have that booked to go see him – yet obviously that puts him in one of the most vulnerable groups for this virus…this has me ultra-paranoid/vigilant)

  91. RickV

    A comment on masks. I can imagine a situation where you, Yves, have a light case of CoVid19, and are taking care of your Mother, or some other family member. It would be best for you to wear a mask when in their room or otherwise close so as not to contaminate them. From what I read, an N100 mask filters the same size particles as the N95 just is harder to breath. And of course wearing the vented N95 mask would offer little or no protection to your patient.

  92. RBHoughton

    “I’ll natter on a bit on my situation” – grateful thanks for doing that YS. That’s what news sites should be doing frequently – acting as an information exchange for readers to informed themselves and others. We’re on the same planet. There is no escape from bacteria and viruses. We are all in this together. Well done. NC is once again leading the way.

  93. anon in so cal

    So, in the Sacramento area, “A student living in a dormitory at UC Davis has shown “mild symptoms” of coronavirus and has been placed in isolation, along with two other students living in the dorm, Yolo County and university officials said Thursday.”

    While, not too far away, two students at two different community colleges have each been exposed to someone with the corona virus:

    “One student is enrolled at American River College and the other is enrolled at Cosumnes River College.

    Both have been told to stay home and monitor their own health.”

    (off topic, but the Cosumnes River is the only non-damned river in the state)

    These cases are separate from the woman with Corona virus who was recently transferred to the UC Davis medical center from Vacaville.

    1. Wukchumni

      (off topic, but the Cosumnes River is the only non-damned river in the state)

      Ahem, what about the Sespe River down south?

      1. anon in so cal

        OK, I should have said, “As one of the last rivers flowing from the west slope of the Sierra without a major dam, the Cosumnes is a vital example of a healthy watershed.”

        There’s also the Smith River.


    2. Jim

      Vacaville, four miles from Travis Air Force Base where planeloads of virus infected people were brought. What a coincidence.

  94. Henry

    Probably too late for anyone to read this. Mega doses of VIt C were shown to be effect against viruses by Linus Pauling, but that was not able to be reproduce. Many years later researchers figured out the reason, he was giving it intravenously and the other studies had people ingesting it. Your body limits Vit C uptake so ingesting mega doses are not likely to help. The China study is for intravenous Vit C not oral. Good to know if you end up hospitalized though. There is a peer reviewed study that shows black elderberry extract (purchased usually as a syrup) is effective against many common cold viruses including coronaviruses. (note don’t eat them raw.) Sorry it is to late to look up the reference, but I will tomorrow if someone is interested. It works by interfering with the virus binding to cells. Since this virus has been modified to have really strong cell binding properties, I’m not sure if it will still work, but plenty of people still getting colds and flu so not a bad idea to have some around.

  95. dk

    My parents were both war survivors, so they hoarded food pretty compulsively and I acquired the habit, also picked up some tricks from poverty. I’m already stocked up for several months with water, soup mixes, beef jerky and chicken stock, etc. I also fast regularly anyway (old habit), a low metabolism stretches the larder.

    It’s a good strategy to regularly eat the oldest supplies from the cache and replace with fresher as one goes (rotation). That way one also gets to practice and experiment with cooking/prep from the cache.

  96. Wukchumni

    Canned tomatoes are pantry all-stars. Here’s how to choose and use them.

    Today’s ad hoc prepper story in the WaPo

  97. David R Smith

    Thanks for your thoughts. A few steps ahead of me. I went to the supermarket today and began buying for the freezer and pantry.

  98. Mrs. wild black raspberry jam

    Yves- consider signing up for a share (subscription) of a community supported agriculture (CSA) and get fresh vegetables, greens and flowers delivered weekly.

    You get real local food fresh each week and know the source and have a short supply line without having to learn to garden. The farm has a certain number of subscribers and you get what is ready to eat each week fresh from the farm.

    Here’s one in your area:

  99. Glenn

    “One good bit of news is children aren’t vectors for this disease, so being around them and teachers isn’t all that hazardous.”

    Nope. There’s certainly indications that for whatever reason children are much less likely to get really sick from COVID-19 but that’s it… Quoting from

    “Children can definitely catch COVID-19, though some early statistics suggest they may be less likely to catch the virus than adults are. As of Wednesday (Feb. 26), Italy had diagnosed 400 cases of COVID-19, including five cases in children ages 4 to 19, according to the Guardian. A Chinese study from Hubei province found that of more than 44,000 cases of COVID-19, about 2.2% involved children under age 19. By contrast, children are typically more likely to contract influenza in any given year, compared with adults.

    However, the number of diagnosed coronavirus cases in children may be an underestimate — in case studies from China, children seemed less likely to develop severe disease, Live Science previously reported. Thus, it’s possible that many children could be infected and passing the disease along, without showing many, or any, symptoms.”

  100. Anon

    How are we, now?

    I’ve got food and meds, but the surprise has been listening to others starting on indoor life….

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