We have a problem. We have an administration that does not believe in science. Worst, their way of thinking at senior levels means that they do not trust the experts. They are the epitome of the rejection of intellectual thought pervasive in the Republican Party.
It matters in many areas of life. They range from the climate emergency to maintaining infrastructure, to public health. And right now we have a global public health emergency. President Donald Trump tried to diminish the seriousness, and in a coincidence that some may call Karma, the first case of community transmission was announced as the president tried to tell us all was well. He probably still thinks this is being weaponized to hurt him because he understands not any of this.
His defenders are trying to do the same. Rush Limbaugh even called this a glorified cold, used to hurt the president. Granted, death rates on this are all over the map. They range from deadlier than the flu to just a bad cold, with people at times dying from the usual complication: Pneumonia. So yes, if you are of a certain age, talk to your doctor about getting that vaccine.
The actions of the administration in the field have reflected this lack of understanding or belief in science. Incidentally, these were serious mistakes. And now we know of them from both news reporting and a whistleblower.
First, people who had the virus (and infectious) were transported in the same aircraft as people who were not. This was over the objections of the Centers for Disease Control experts. Likely this was done to save money, which is not even a cent on the national couch. Ergo this was penny wise and pound foolish. Then we learned from a whistleblower that staff was not properly trained, and did not receive the proper protective equipment. I have not been in the field for decades, but I was shaking my head. Especially when this staff did not know the most basic of things to do like testing themselves for infection, ergo take your temp three times a day. And they also walked outside quarantine areas in the military base, and the community. Care to guess where the first case of community to community transmission came in Northern California? Bueller?
And now the administration has decided to not just appoint the Vice President as the coordinator for the response, but to strictly control the flow of information. First, appointing the VEEP does not strike me as that strange. President Barak Obama did this with Joe Biden with the Ebola epidemic. Ideally, the role of the coordinator is a glorified post, meant to make people from different agencies play nice, share toys, and to unclog the red tape if need be. The problem is that Pence has a history of doing everything wrong when he had an outbreak of HIV when he was Indiana governor. This does not precisely cause confidence, since Pence is expected to politicize this, and to act in a rigid religious ideological manner. No, you cannot pray it away.
Then during the presser, they had another lovely moment. The president told us that we are near the development of the vaccine, which was a lie. However, they also hinted that some people may not be able to afford the final product when it comes. Then they reversed themselves.
This is precisely the wrong thing to say when it comes to a public health emergency. Especially if you are to reach herd immunity, which is usually ninety percent and above coverage. You cannot choose who gets the vaccine and all the money in the world will not protect you.
Now the World Health Organization has declared this a very high risk of a pandemic. Incidentally, this is a definition, meaning it is present in two or more continents. It is also a way for them to tell Governments to get ready. It’s coming and plans have to be put into place or enacted, or both. This also means that it is not going to magically go away, as President Donald Trump said during the presser.
Which brings me to the economy. We already have supply chain issues. The market (the point of pride for the President, which is not the main economy) has been crashing. There is not another word to use, it is crashing. One reason is a lack of confidence in the go lucky, it will soon be over, administration. This has led to the next action which will help to create a panic, they are now deciding to control the flow of information.
This has all kinds of connotations, including the authoritarian bent of places like China. Remember folks, it did not help to stop the spread either because virii could care less. But what it does is create a sense of impotency, and unnecessary panic. This will also lead to rumors, and rumor spread can be as dangerous, or more than the actual virus. The first lesson disaster managers get pounded into their heads is…do not hold information back. The administration is about to do exactly that.
It will also stress the for-profit medical system we live with. If you expect everybody to go to their doctor to get tested if they feel like crap, I got news for ya. People without insurance will not. They cannot afford the visit, and they cannot afford to get sick. So we are in for a perfect storm since these folks will continue to work as long as they can, and this will accelerate the spread of the virus. This will also make the case for Medicare for all as well.
People are being charged for the test, which is over three thousand dollars. They are also getting the bill for quarantines. In a public health emergency smart nations, not driven purely by the profit motive, subsidize all this. In places with a socialized medical system, this is not an issue at the level of health care delivery. Our system will fail, for different reasons than China’s. Though there are some similarities. One of them is that those people without health insurance will go to the Emergency Room, where far more people will be exposed.
And then there is the reality that a fourteen-day quarantine will cost people their jobs. So you think they will go to the doctor? I suspect they will not until they have no choice. This will increase the person to person infection because the government is not treating this as a public health emergency, but a profit opportunity.
Then there are the issues with supply chains, which are already stressed, and will likely fail. Some of these are for critical things like Ibuprofen and Tylenol, which are made in China. So this will affect delivery.
So how do you prepare?
Treat this as a disaster, partly because the government has authorities that are quite expansive in case of a public health emergency. They can order people to stay home. And to be brutally honest, the way they are acting gives this former medic little trust that they will do what they should to do.
So take a good look at your home. And here is a list of things to get, and it is far from complete. However, they will also help you in case of other types of natural disasters. There are items that will be very specific to your circumstances
* Canned goods. Do you have enough to be able to survive at home for at least two weeks?
* A can opener. You have no idea how many people actually do not own one.
* Rice, beans, quinoa, oats and other grains that you can use to make stuff.
* Dried fruit, such as cranberries, apples, and others.
* Shelf-stable milk, powdered milk, powdered creamer, coffee, and tea.
* Medications for you, your family members and pets. include Tylenol incidentally.
* Food, and if necessary meds for your pets
* Diapers, if you have babies or adults who need them
* Sanitary napkins
* Games, especially if you have children.
* Cash on hand
* Battery-operated radio
* First Aid Kit
And chiefly, DO NOT PANIC. Most people, from the information we have, will feel like crap but should survive this. Moreover, panicking will not help you either. Keep your wits about you, and if you feel sick, please go to the doctor.
Also, wash your hands, and when you sneeze do so to the elbow.