The following is a common-sense guide to prepare your homestead for the current Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic. The author is not a doctor.
“If you think you need the flag pole then cut it down. We’ll take it with us!” the Colonel said.
It was a mild summer day in southern Germany in 1990. I was standing in formation with the rest of the command company for the 12th Engineer Battalion of the United States Army. We were about to deploy to Saudia Arabia for Desert Storm. It was not a drill. In an instant, years of training and pretending to be at war became a hard reality. We were going to war!
What the Colonel (who was a Vietnam veteran) was telling us was this: “Take everything you need, because once we get there we will be on our own. If we don’t already have it when we hit the ground, we’re going to have to fight without it.”
Fast forward to March 8th, 2020
“The Covid-19 coronavirus has broken containment in the U.S.” was the essential admission of public officials in the U.S. on Sunday, March 8th. In a coordinated effort, the Fed dropped interest rates fifty basis points (after a similar move less than a week earlier). In an uncoordinated move, Asian markets opened with oil falling over 20% (after a fall of over 10%) on the Friday before.
I have spent the last month tracking every nuance of the virus’ spread, from watching South Korean CDC news conferences live, in the middle of the night U.S. time, to scouring the U.S. CDC site and researching the details of the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic. My family endured my endless monologues about what was going to happen next. Then, to everyone’s surprise, including my own… I was right.
I’ve been a serious homesteading prepper for nearly a dozen years. I prepare for everything from a nuclear war between Pakistan and India to a Solar EMP knocking the power out for months to… a global pandemic. My pandemic preparations went from theoretical to “This is not a drill!” this week. You can still get ahead of the curve if you take seriously what I’m about to say next.
YOU Are in the Midst of a KILLER Global Pandemic Right Now. This is Not a Drill!
We already know exactly what will happen. The only problem is that people haven’t wrapped their minds around it yet. Like going to war, a switch has to flip inside the mind that says “This is real. This is happening. This is NOW!” Once that switch flips you know it’s time to cut down the flagpole because you might need it.
Here are the hard facts. The 1918 Spanish Flu had an infection rate in the U.S. of about 26%. The 2009 H1N1 outbreak had an infection rate in the U.S. of about 18%. Covid-19 will fall within those two numbers. It has already proven more virulent than H1N1. We will assume that modern controls will keep it below 1918’s infection rate. If we split the difference and say it will have a final infection rate of 22% then 80 million Americans are going to get infected by Covid-19 Coronavirus THIS YEAR. This is not a drill. This is not an episode of a TV show. This is real. It’s really happening and it’s really happening right now. FLIP THE SWITCH!
Covid-19 coronavirus has a proven hospitalization rate of 30%. American’s are made from the same “stuff” as everyone else on Earth. We have a body temperature of 98.6. Your lungs are just as pink, moist, and warm as people in China, Iran, North Korea, and Italy. You WILL catch this killer virus unless you take extreme measures.
The first MYTH held by Americans is that we are special, different, better. What happens to “them” never happens to “us.” Covid-19 has no respect for nationality. “Those Chinese people” did nothing different than you do every single day. They breathed. They talked to their friends. They went to the store. And they got sick and they died. They are not stupid. You are not stupid. Covid-19 is a deadly pathogen that passes from person to person through BEING a person. A human! That’s it!
80 million to 100 million Americans will catch it. YOU, your family, your friends, your parents, your neighbors, your children’s friends, your children will catch it. It has no respect for income, education, race, religion, politics. Your friends are not “cleaner” than other peoples’ friends. You are not “more careful” than other people. People in China were extremely careful and they still caught it. People in Italy are being extremely careful and they are still catching it.
The Second MYTH held by Americans is that our healthcare system is the best in the world. If this is true (which is questionable), it is negated by the sheer volume of cases that Covid-19 is going to create. 30% of infections will require hospitalization. 30% of 80 million is 24 million people who will need intensive hospital care.
When you were last at a hospital did you see a wing marked “Reserved for future use in case of a pandemic”? No. Our medical system runs “at capacity.” 24 million cases will overwhelm our system. According to the CDC American hospitals have a total of about 60,000 mechanical ventilators. For 10 days of treatment that is a capacity of 200,000 patients per month nationally. Covid-19 is going to produce over 2 million patients per month who will need mechanical ventilation (CDC estimates 56% of Covid-19 hospitalized patients will need mechanical or endotracheal ventilation.)
The sheer volume of cases requiring hospitalization will overwhelm hospitals 10 times over. The sheer volume of critically ill patients who require mechanical ventilation is also 10 times more than the national capacity. When this happens the response will be “stay home, we will get to you when we can.” The result will be that they will never get to you. It’s a horrific, tragic, unavoidable math problem.
I want to repeat the reality. Covid-19 is MORE virulent than H1N1 in 2009 which infected 60 million Americans. So, 80 million is a very realistic number. If 30% of cases require hospitalization (which is the norm for this virus), then 24 million Americans will need to be put in intensive (or near intensive) care. This is not “quarantine.” This is serious, medical, life-saving treatment.
The final number is the fatality rate. For Covid-19 it is at least 1%. The CDC estimates closer to 3%, That means between 800,000 and 1.2 million Americans are going to die in the next 9-12 months from Covid-19.
This is going to happen. The virus doesn’t care if we are Americans. The patients will overwhelm all parts of the medical system. And Covid-19 kills 1-3% of the people it infects.
The final MYTH held by Americans is that “The Fed” can keep economic disasters at bay. I am not going to focus on this too much for this article except to say that the 2008 Financial Collapse was a $3 trillion problem caused by ONLY America, in ONLY our financial system. Covid-19 is a worldwide disaster that is Medical, Financial, Distribution, Manufacturing, and Governmental all at the same time. To estimate that it is a $30 trillion dollar problem will probably prove to be a major underestimate.
The devastating worldwide economic impacts of this virus will be persistent and pervasive. Talking heads who declare a quick “V” shaped recovery once people “stop overreacting” are delusional (in my opinion). The world will not just shake off this $30 trillion disaster.
The Time to Act is Now!
“The Government” has already proven ineffective against this virus. That impotence will only be exacerbated as the virus spreads. It is YOUR responsibility to protect yourself and your family. It is YOUR responsibility to prepare for the realities that lie ahead. As a long-time prepping homesteader please allow me to highlight some key areas of preparation.
1. Buy What You Need Now
If you tried to buy hand sanitizer after the panic then you experienced the feeling of being trapped without what you need. This situation will escalate as the consequences of the virus roll out. Go immediately and do what you need to do to purchase what you will need for your family to survive. I will give a list later.
2. Prepare For Serious Economic Disruption
This virus is going to cause the worst parts of social disruption with a crippling supply-side depression and the collapse of a consumer-based economy that has no production capacity. All the things your weird uncle ranted about at the holiday dinners are coming to pass. Unless you work for the government, education, or medicine, the chances of losing your income are significant.
3. Take Extreme Measures to Protect Yourself
Victims in China, North Korea, and Italy weren’t walking around licking each other’s eyeballs. Once the virus was known people started wearing masks, washing their hands, and taking “normal” precautions. It didn’t stop the spread. If you want to really protect yourself and your family you will need to take extreme precautions up to and including self-quarantine.
Buy What You Need
The basics you absolutely need are: Sanitizer, Disinfectant, Soap, and Food. The first two are getting harder to find. I have found that Walmarts in small towns or low-population areas are more likely to have hard-to-find items than stores in the centers of densely populated areas. So, a drive to the country may be in order.
Medicines and Health Products: If you can find masks then you should buy them. Even if you don’t feel like you will use one in public, if someone you know gets sick they should wear one to limit the spread of the virus. The seasonal flu medicines tend to focus on mucus and drainage more than Covid-19 really needs. According to all reports, Covid-19 centers around fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.
There is no cure for Covid-19, so all you can do is treat the symptoms. That means cough suppressants, fever reducers, and breathing support, such as a humidifier. If you have children then remember to get age-appropriate medications for them as well.
One special thing to buy is a Finger Oxygen Sensor. They cost about $19 and are currently readily available. This may change, so I recommend buying one now. As will be discussed further in the article, you will probably need to self-treat in your own home unless you (or your loved one) have serious respiratory disruption. How can you tell if that’s the case? The answer is a Finger Oxygen Sensor. This will tell you if your blood oxygen level has dropped below 90%. If it has, then your lungs need respiratory support and you should contact your local hospital for directions.
Food will be very important. The old adage “Feed a cold, starve a fever” is applicable to Covid-19. In this case, Covid is a “cold.” Maintaining calorie input is very important. Since breathing can become very labored you may need help in this goal. One of my friends is pre-cooking two weeks’ worth of meals and freezing them in individual plastic containers. That way he can easily cook a meal in the microwave even if he has limited strength. Soup is fine, but try to maintain some high-calorie intake as well with Ensure or other high-calorie drinks and foods.
Good, bad, or indifferent, that’s about all you can do for this virus, according to all reports. Since the number of cases will overload the medical system, you may very likely be required to self-treat. Be sure you already have what you need on hand. This includes disposable dishes so food can be passed to the infected person and then discarded. There is no reason to use actual dishes that can carry the virus back into the uninfected space.
Since I, personally, believe that Covid-19 is going to cause major financial and trade disruptions I am preparing to go for up to six months without any income at all. That means, stockpiling enough food that I won’t need to buy much if any additional food during that period. My job is to train dogs. I don’t think people will be interested in getting dogs trained during a major pandemic. I also believe that cities might be locked down (“red zones”) in order to keep the virus from spreading. I train in Austin and Dallas. If these cities get locked down my income goes to zero. For that reason, I am super-stocking food.
As a prepper, I already had over 600 pounds of dry goods in storage. I am supplementing that with 350 pounds of meat in the freezer, and additional supplies to be able to feed everyone on the homestead for that entire time. Many people cannot or will not go to such extremes, but I believe that my family’s well-being could be dependant on it.
Prepare for Serious Social Disruption
The tendency of many people in an emergency or crisis is to become introverted, to shut down, or to avoid the situation. With this pandemic, those tendencies will be exacerbated. People will be scared, and they will become scared of other people. This will shut down social functions like church, sports, schools, shopping, gathering together, and traveling. This will have a serious impact on American life.
In Italy, they have quarantined entire cities. U.S. government officials have already said that this sort of response is not out of the question. They have only said it wouldn’t be as “draconian” as some other places. That is a vague answer to a very serious response. What will you do if you are cut off from the city where you work or where your family members live? Now is the time to have those discussions and create a plan.
Talk to your neighbors about their plans. I spent much of the day recently sharing my expectations on what might happen with my two closest neighbors. They are each now stockpiling food for their families. We have a shared security plan for the dirt road that we live on. And one neighbor has changed his plans on selling some cattle, preferring to keep them in case he needs them next fall or winter.
The people closest to you—neighbors, friends, and family—will be the people who need your help most and who will give you help if you need it. Talking and planning can only make that better.
Take Extreme Measures to Protect Yourself from Covid-19 Coronavirus
This virus is a killer to almost every age group. While it affects older people and people with pre-existing conditions more readily, it also kills healthy people. The Chinese doctor who first made the sickness public died from the virus. He was in his 30’s, healthy, and received the best health care. In the end, he still succumbed. Even surviving has consequences. The shortness of breath isn’t a mild symptom for many. It’s painful and terrifying. Even 20-30% of those who survive need hospital care and breathing support. This illness can be expensive, very disruptive, painful, and life-threatening. It’s not something that anyone wants to contract.
Based on similar outbreaks like H1N1 and Spanish Flu, the contraction rates will be over 20%. That means 1 in 5 of everyone in America will catch it. Avoiding it without avoiding other people is a risky gamble. The best defense is physical isolation. Stay home. REALLY, stay home.
Here is a likely scenario. A common reason to go out is to get something to eat. Waitresses, fast-food workers, cooks, and other staff are generally young. This means they are more likely to carry the virus without severe symptoms. They rarely have healthcare, and if they do they often can’t pay the deductible and copay required to visit a doctor. That means they are the least likely to even be diagnosed with Covid-19 when they have it. Finally, they cannot afford to miss work. They aren’t office workers who might be able to work from home. If they don’t go to work then they don’t get paid. So they are the most likely to work even if sick. Is this the person you want touching your Caramel Macchiato, menus, debit cards, and drink cups?
Stay home. Don’t take visitors. Don’t visit others. The visit to see if Grandma is okay might be the visit that delivers Covid-19 to her nursing home or to her in her private home. The one group that everyone agrees is terribly in danger is those over 65.
When the virus starts spreading widely I plan on suspending my business and keeping my entire family on the homestead for months on end until the danger has passed. I’m hoping this will only take 6-8 months (from September through February or March of next year). We are all committed to protecting each other by isolating ourselves. It’s that important to us.
What if Someone in Your Family Catches Covid-19 Coronavirus?
Based on what is happening elsewhere, and past outbreaks, there is a very high chance that you will receive little to no help whatsoever. You will be told to “call the hospital.” The hospital will ask a lot of questions, but if Covid-19 is generally spread then they have no interest in testing or confirming what they already know. Mainly they need to gather information ABOUT you and your family so they can report properly. That’s not a bad thing. They will give you instructions on how to isolate, maintain quarantine, and what to do.
Short of a serious breathing emergency, you may very likely be on your own. Before anyone gets infected, you should already have a plan. The infected person must be quarantined in a room with a private bathroom if possible. No one should enter or leave the room unless absolutely necessary. Leave food at the door. Communicate by cell phone. The sick person doesn’t want to get you sick as well. If the infected person is a small child, then their caregiver is probably going to have to spend significant time with them, and they are very likely to become infected as well. Choose someone who has the highest ability to survive the exposure. In other words, Grandma is not a good choice to take care of the sick baby no matter how much she insists.
When with the patient, wear a face mask, eye protection, long-sleeve shirt and pants (or a cover garment like a smock). I would use spray disinfectant to suppress the airborne virus upon entering. Finish your business as quickly as possible. Do not touch anything unnecessarily and do not touch your face at all. Upon leaving disinfect yourself: hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol (even if you are wearing gloves) FIRST. Then remove your glasses and mask. Then clean your glasses and sanitize your hands again. I would remove my clothing, sanitize my hands and face again, and wash the clothes.
If you don’t follow these extreme measures then you are just going to spread the virus.
Financial Fallout from Covid-19 Coronavirus
This is the great unknown. I, personally, believe that this virus is going to be a $30 trillion disaster that will reset western capitalism and take years to overcome. However, in 1918, the Spanish Flu didn’t cause much financial disruption at all. So, I could be wrong.
My suggestion is to think for yourself, protect your money and investments at all costs, and prepare as if you may lose your job. If you over-prepare then you will be safer and it will cost little—perhaps some lost opportunity. If you under-prepare it could cost you everything.
My family is pre-paying all of our utilities so that we are 6 months ahead. We are pre-purchasing groceries so that we have as close to 6 months food on hand as well. We are preparing as if we will have zero income for that time. This way, any income we do get is a bonus. If we are wrong then all we’ve done is created a bit of forced savings that we can take advantage of once the danger has passed.
I wrote this article because it is often in the government’s best interest to keep people from panicking. While that may be in society’s best interest, it may not be in yours. Downplaying the risks, underestimating the dangers, and minimizing the costs both to you and to society could turn a very dangerous virus into a life-ending (or life-destroying) calamity. I have tried to not make unsubstantiated (fear-mongering) claims while demonstrating that this virus is deadly dangerous physically and financially to both you and the nation.
- You, personally, and the people you know are highly likely to get infected. It doesn’t just affect “them.”
- If you don’t prepare immediately then you may not be able to prepare at all.
- The government and health systems will be overwhelmed. Remember millions of people will need services that have the capacity for only 200,000, such as ventilators. The hospitals do not have space for what is about to occur.
- Life requires BOTH food and money. Stockpile and prepare now. You may not get a 2nd chance. Preparation may cost a little bit of money, but your life and future are worth it.
- If you saved for a rainy day… It’s raining!
This is not a drill. Remember what the Colonel said… “If you don’t take it with you then you won’t have it to fight.” Gather everything you need to fight this pandemic, even the flagpole!