I’m not a glass half full; glass half empty guy. I’m a “what’s in the damn glass?” person.
To understand my psyche, realize I’ve written a survival manual and also two books whose original titles were Shit Doesn’t Just Happen: The Gift of Failure. Because of Amazon rules, I amended Shit to Stuff, but it’s still Shit. The premise of those books is to examine seven great disasters in each one and show how it take seven things going wrong for a disaster to happen—I call them cascade events. And if people are involved, one of them, at least, if not all, involve human error.
There’s a lot of information out there about projections for the virus. There are actually people walking around who don’t even know there is a pandemic. Seriously.
Good case: the virus mutates into something less deadly and peters out. Yeah. We wish. Happy with that? As we say in da’ Bronx: fuggehdaboutit.
Bad: There are two ways I’m looking at it: the virus and then the ripple effect on society. While they are connected, they both have to be planned for.
Right now, the focus is the virus. Prevention and treatment. Wash hands, social distancing, lock down. We’ve already bungled it, with states leading the way in what is an international problem, that at the very least requires a coordinated federal response here in the States. We don’t have it. Please, if you feel this is political move on and read someone else. I’m a realist. I’m not going to get into the reasons for that but it’s what is going on; or rather not going on. This is a big reason I’m leaning toward worst case.
Worst casing I’ve seen for COVID-19 is 2.2 million dead in the US. That’s with 40 to 70% infection rate and a mortality rate of 2%. Pretty grim. We’re talking mass graves; which is what is happening in Iran right now. Washington State has just banned funerals.
Hospitals are already getting overwhelmed. Our for-profit healthcare system is going to get a lot of people killed because the most efficient hospitals are actually the least prepared for this pandemic because they don’t keep “unnecessary” gear and equipment on hand based on their operating margins. Gear like masks and gloves; equipment like ventilators. We’ve got people stepping up and having sewing groups that are making masks from surgical cloth. Seriously.
Which brings me to the other aspect: the ripple effect on society. Almost a fifth of the country just lost their jobs in one week. Let that sink in. Even before this, 40% of Americans would struggle to come up with $400 for an unexpected expense. More than half of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. Mix those things together and it stinks and is a powerkeg.
So far people, overall, are being reasonable. Many communities don’t even feel much of an effect, especially as we go more rural. There are many who think this is an urban problem and those out in the country will be fine. Until someone gets sick and they realize they don’t have a nearby hospital.
Just saw a tweet that someone stole an 18-wheeler containing toilet paper. Seriously. That’s just the beginning. During the 1918 Influenza outbreak, there were thieves sneaking into hospitals and stealing from the sick. People haven’t changed. There are also those sewing masks. People volunteering to deliver food to those who can’t get about.
People are re-watching the move Contagion. When I first saw that, I understood a lot because, I’d written a pandemic thriller a while ago (every thriller writer eventually wrote one): Z: Final Countdown. What I thought the movie got seriously wrong wasn’t the science. It was social reaction. People were way too fucking calm. They tried showing some of it, but in some areas things are going to get very hairy, very soon. But there is a logic to it.
I know everyone is focused on the here and now, but start thinking longer term. I’ll be posting about that logic in the coming week with ideas on what can be done about it.
The Green Beret Pocket-Sized Survival Guide (same as above, minus the preparation part in order to be smaller in print)
Once more, the NY Times has dropped its paywall for information about COVID-19, Coronavirus. Click HERE to go to it.
I’m noticing a lot more small circles outside of cities. Remember, testing is still very scarce.