First off, I want to preface this article by saying it is not meant to insult or bash the mitigation strategies used in the early onset of the coronavirus outbreak/pandemic. After all, it is hard to move perfectly through a disaster without making a mistake or two. My purpose in writing this is to highlight the importance of thinking on your own accord. Sometimes the government’s advice can be the wrong fit with what you think is right, and ultimately, you have to do what is best for your family.
When I began writing The Coronavirus Handbook, early in March, the virus was still mostly circulating in Asia and had just begun affected parts of Italy. Some would say it was still a world away. Even though there were one or two cases in the United States, many believed it wouldn’t pose a large threat to our way of life. But here we are.
The truth of the matter was there were signs early on that alarmed me that this was larger than what world leaders were letting on and as more information came out, I found myself disagreeing with the CDC’s response and approach.
1. THERE WOULD BE NO SUPPLY DISRUPTIONS
The first clue was when China began implementing mass lockdowns as an emergency containment measure. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that when China shuts down its manufacturing facilities the entire world would feel the aftershocks. As a result, the sobering realization took hold that shortages of medical supplies and essential protective gear would soon be a major concern for medical facilities across the country. But that was just the beginning. It is not just medical supplies and phones that are imported from China. In fact, nearly one-half of the total U.S. agricultural imports come from China. Top import commodities from China include meat; fish and seafood; dairy; vegetables, fruits and nuts, coffee, tea and spices; cereals, flours, oil seeds; fats; meat and fish preparations; sugar and confectionery; cocoa; cereal and dairy preparations; vegetable and fruit preparations; and other edible preparations. Source
As noted in The Coronvirus Handbook:
Perhaps the most ominous of all is the concern for supply disruptions. Providers already face a global disruption in medical supplies and the more this virus continues to wage on in the United States, the more stressed the country’s supply chain will become.
The difficulty that government officials have with managing widespread pandemics is balancing the need for rapid medical response with other critical aspects of our society that could have a devastating impact on life as we know it.
Everything from healthcare and insurance to food supply chains and retirement accounts come into play when we start discussing worst-case mitigation strategies for widespread pandemic scenarios.
The problem we face is that taking action even when justified, could lead to immediate shocks to parts of our lives that we often take for granted.
The Threat to Global Supply Chains and Just In Time Delivery
As China began locking down entire regions in response to the rapid and deadly spread of this novel virus, it became apparent very quickly that the majority of the manufacturing base for the United States had essentially come to a standstill. One estimate indicated that as many as 74% of all Chinese factory workers were forced to stay home.
In addition to the low cost garments and electronics, we source a lot of raw materials and essential products from China including the base elements for the production of life-saving pharmaceutical drugs, meats like chicken and beef, and yes, even the N95 masks that are at the time of this writing selling for 25 times their normal going price.
As soon as the population caught wind that the coronavirus was uncontained, the panic buying for essential food items stressed supply chains across the country. One month later, stores are still finding difficulty in keeping up with the demand.
2. NOT INFORMING THE POPULATION OF THE NEED TO PREPARE SOONER
Here are a few important dates to keep in mind:
- January 5, 2020 – WHO publicly acknowledges pneumonia of unknown cause in Wuhan City.
- January 17, 2020 – CDC implements entry screening at three U.S. airports for passengers traveling from Wuhan.
- January 21, 2020 – the first case of COVID-19 in the United States was reported in Washington state.
- January 31, 2020, the United States declared the virus a public health emergency.
While it is oftentimes difficult to get the timing down on alerting the masses to a fast-evolving domestic and global emergency, there have been some severe missteps and inactions. One such misstep and one that I believe was a catalyst in causing the run on grocery stores was not communicating properly to the public about the need to prepare for a long-term event. The CDC waited until February 26 – almost a full month after the first case of COVID-19 was reported in the United States (January 21, 2020), to inform the public to prepare for a significant disruption of our lives. Albeit, these things take time to observe, we need only to look at how fast this deadly virus was spreading in Asia and other parts of the world to know we were under the gun in terms of getting preparations in order.
Testing was another issue entirely. While government leaders who were tasked with handling the health crisis were tripping over regulatory hurdles and bureaucratic red tape, they missed the crucial timing needed for mass testing to help limit the spread of the viral outbreak. In an article on the subject, “The absence of robust screening until it was “far too late” revealed failures across the government, said Dr. Thomas Frieden, the former CDC director. Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins, said the Trump administration had ‘incredibly limited’ views of the pathogen’s potential impact. Dr. Margaret Hamburg, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said the lapse enabled ‘exponential growth of cases.’”
The moment travel bans were issued on January 17th was the moment the population should have been informed to begin preparing for a long-term emergency. Not doing so may have escalated the initial run on food supplies and created more of a frenzy. Trying to keep a population calm during these types of events is challenging, but not fully informing the public is what perpetuates more fear and creates an environment for societal breakdowns to occur.
In the book, I wrote, “Which such a large-scale emergency, it is difficult to know where to start and the best answer this author can give you is to start preparedness efforts at home. We cannot control if or when a government will decide to prepare, but we can control when and what we, as individuals need to protect our families.”
3. COMMUNITIES NOT BEING WARNED TO WEAR PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE)
I was even more stunned when the CDC came out saying they did not have enough protective equipment for everyone in the medical field and that any PPE gear should be reserved for medical staff. I understand the thought process in this but advising the public not to protect themselves at all (aside from keeping your hands clean) was a severe misstep and irresponsible, in my opinion. If the public was encouraged to protect themselves from community-spread cases, then the hospitals may not have had such surges in coronavirus cases. To prepare for a pandemic, you will ALWAYS need protective gear regardless of if you are a civilian or a medical professional. In fact, during the 1918 Spanish Flu, it was deemed illegal not to wear a mask in some parts of America.
In The Coronavirus Handbook:
Given the above missteps and concerns that the healthcare system has, we must assume that front line health care or medical response will collapse and will be overwhelmed, understaffed, and under-stocked in the event of a pandemic. Therefore, it is a real possibility that you and your loved ones will either take their chances at a temporary triage center or have to manage the illness at home.
Not only do you need to stockpile items for protecting yourself from a virulent disease, but you also need to know what happens if the worst-case scenario occurs and you or a loved one gets sick.
First and foremost, mimic what the healthcare professionals are doing during the time of pandemic concerns. If the CDC is getting ready and recommending healthcare professionals to have personal protective equipment or PPE, then you should too! At the very least, here are some items they are recommending to healthcare professionals: Disposable gowns, gloves, NIOSH-certified disposable N95 respirator, eye protection. Further, have a supply of medicines for respiratory illnesses, health-boosting vitamins, and foods.
The pandemic PPE essentials:
Latex or nitrile disposable gloves
Disposable surgical gown
60% Alcohol-based hand sanitizers
Recently, the CDC has amended this and has begun advising the use of simple cloth face coverings to slow the spread of the virus and help people who may have the virus and do not know it from transmitting it to others. That said, non-medical face coverings will not fully protect you from the coronavirus as these cannot block aerosolized and airborne viral particles from entering your body. However, if you do not have an N95 or N100 mask, anything is better than nothing. My advice is if you cannot protect yourself from the virus, the best thing you can do is to continue sheltering in place. Do not go into public areas where the virus might be.
Further, as the CDC urges us all to begin social distancing measures of 6 feet or more, it is also important to assume that anything you touch outside of your home is infected with the coronavirus, and each person around you may also be infected. As well, assume anything you bring into your home is infected. Literally anything from the outside that you bring into your home should be disinfected – that includes mail, packages, groceries, shoes, clothing, etc.
4. SHELTERING IN PLACE AND PREPARING FOR ONLY TWO WEEKS
In mid-March, when the U.S. began its “flatten the curve” campaign and encouraged the population to stay indoors for 14 days there were already coronavirus cases in all 50 states. If this was implemented sooner, it may have made more of an impact, but some of the population did not heed this advice.
Further, two weeks is not enough time for a virus to die out. When you plan for a pandemic, it is important to have at the minimum a one-month supply. Your goal is to stay inside the home and not have to venture out into the community where the virus is present. I detail this in the book:
One of my favorite phrases that I tell new preppers is that “your preps are your lifeline.” It is always good practice to put measures in place before a disaster is upon us in order to have these lifelines available to us when we need it the most. But sometimes time is not on our side. That said, the CDC suggests a person have a two-week preparedness supply, in this book we are suggesting a month’s supply of food, water, and critical supplies.
There are multiple benefits to this: 1. Having a month of supplies means you will not be underprepared for this type of disaster or have to panic shop at the last minute. 2. You will not have to go to the store during a peak pandemic event and risk being contaminated by a communicable disease while shopping. 3. Having all your supplies in place means you will not need to be dependent on the local government for handouts and MREs. 4. You will have extra in case a family member needs help and this will not overwhelm your stores.
Another reason we recommend storing one month (or longer) of supplies for pandemic preparedness is let’s say that you were able to get all of your necessary supplies and prepped for the recommended 2-week emergency that the CDC suggested. When those supplies dwindle, you and every other person who only prepared for two weeks will be going out and possibly reintroducing the contagious disease back into the community. If you were able to prepare for two weeks longer than everyone else, you can continue to distance yourself from the population but be able to observe what happens with the contagion and whether or not it will continue to spread.
To conclude, all we can do is move forward at this point equipped with the knowledge that we do know. I encourage all of you to use this time to inform yourself and better prepare for the next wave of this deadly virus. Because supplies are scare and may continue to be, it is important to start thinking about how you are going to be able to feed yourself or your family in the near future. Turn your interest towards safe-haven assets that can sustain your way of living. As well, look for natural health remedies to improve your health. And, if you can manage this, start looking for ways to get out of the city. Investing in a parcel of land away from large populations will put your family at a distance the next time a pandemic wave hits. Another investment strategy to begin is investing in precious metals. “In a total SHTF scenario, silver and gold may eventually break down as a bartering unit, as contact with the “outside” world breaks down. One reason for this is that the fair value price of precious metals will be hard to determine, as it will be difficult to locate buyers for this commodity. This, however, does not mean that you should spend all of your precious metals right at the onset of a collapse. Precious metals will have value after bartering and trade is reestablished once the system begins to stabilize. Once stabilization begins, the likely scenario is that precious metals will be one of the most valuable monetary units available, so having plenty may be quite a benefit. At this point, they could be used to purchase property, livestock, services and labor.”
When the pandemic cases begin to wind down, this will not be the end of the crisis. We are watching a true paradigm shift occur right before our eyes and great changes are afoot. Going forward, it’s important for you equip yourself with the knowledge you need to live through this and do what you believe is the best for the wellbeing of your family is paramount during this time period.
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