SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19

 

Although it won’t be posted until Monday, I am writing this on Friday, 6MAR2020 (fair warning, any numbers will probably be wrong by the time you read them).  

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I’ve never—in almost a decade of writing the Mountain Guerrilla Blog—jumped on the worry wagon. I was one of those who pointed out—accurately—that Jade Helm was simply a typical training exercise. I’m the guy who pointed out—in books, for posterity, no less—that seeing armored vehicles and tanks transported CONUS, on rail cars, is not a sign of coming martial law, but is simply the way the military transports shit stateside. I’m hardly a model of prepper paranoia.
 

So, when I say that I’m concerned—not scared, not worried, but concerned—about COVID-19, there must be a reason, right?  

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Sources and Methods

Sources and methods is a term used to describe the process of intelligence collection and analysis. Intelligence information sources and the nature of the information gathered can vary. Sources are the sources from which we get the information. Methods are the tradecraft utilized to procure that information.  

Sources can be other people, which would be referred to as Human Intelligence, or HUMINT. Information collected from photographs, such as satellite overheads, is referred to as imagery intelligence, or IMINT. There’s also signals intelligence, or SIGINT, such as eavesdropping on phone calls, and etc.  

Here’s the thing though...much like the Enigma Project, during WW2, if the opposition learns who/what your sources are, they can stop that flow of information, or worse, they can utilize disinformation, feeding you bad information through those sources. The opposition—or even friendly allies that you need to keep tabs on—can determine sources through a number of methods.  

In some cases, taking advantage of your intelligence collection efforts to stop an attack, or to hit a specific target at a specific time, can be a clue that you intercepted communications (Enigma’s biggest issue was, once we had the Enigma machine, a lot of times, taking advantage of the information collected would have revealed that we had the machine, leading to a loss of that asset).  

One of the humorous things I see a lot is someone posting information, and then a dozen people piping up with, “Tell us your sources!” Now, in some cases, for sure, you might be able to share your sources. If you’re getting your information from newspaper articles, or Internet sites, by all means, share away. But...if someone has actual HUMINT sources, asking them to “cite your sources” doesn’t show that you’re cool and edgy. It shows that you don’t understand how the process works.  

Now...there’s a catch to that. To some degree, if let’s say, Agent X says, “Hey, I’ve got this source, and he’s claiming THIS is going to happen at THIS time, in THAT location,” you’ve got two choices. You can completely disregard it, because you don’t know Agent X, and have no way to determine if he has any ability to vet his sources. If the information he is providing is completely ridiculous, or you have another, known source, let’s say Agent Z, that’s saying, “Nope. Not happening. Not possible!” then taking doubting Agent X’s information is sensible.  

Alternatively, you can decide to say, “Hey, this makes sense. It correlates with the other information we have coming in, so let’s keep an eye on this. This Agent X might have a good source, after all!”  

Finally, if Agent X is a known quantity; either he’s provided information in the past that turned out to be solid, useful, accurate intelligence, or he’s someone who you trust the judgment and experience of, then the sensible approach is to say, “Hmm...I guess I should consider this. It’s got a higher than not likelihood of being accurate, based on Agent X’s track record.”  

Here’s what I’ve got: I can look at a broad array of intelligence sources: I can look at the raw data being put out by different organizations and governments. I can analyze that through both my experience, and basic understanding of numbers and math. I can take the information that people I trust are providing me, based on their HUMINT sources, and determine if I trust MY guy’s judgment enough to trust the source he’s relying on. And, that’s exactly what I’m doing.  

And my conclusion is, there’s a whole lot more to be concerned about this than we’re being told.  

It’s up to you to determine whether you can accept my information as valid intelligence or not, and then determine whether you should allow that to modify your approach to this—or any—situation. But, the idea that I’m going to reveal sources and methods (which a number of emails and Private Messages have requested I do…) is absurd. If you don’t want to accept my information as valid, whether because it contradicts sources you already have and trust, or because it simply doesn’t fit your worldview (which is a whole other issue to deal with), that’s fine. I’m certainly not going to get butthurt over it. I KNOW who/what my sources are, and I’ve already made the determination of which I can trust, and which I need to be wary of (because even the best source won’t be 100% accurate, 100% of the time). And, like I said on FB, in three months, if my sources turn out to be wrong, feel free to call me a paranoid fuckface. I don’t think that’s going to be the case.  

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A Failure of Imagination  

The second problem that arises is a failure of imagination, which results from normalcy bias. A failure of imagination is a circumstance that occurs when something that seems predictable, but undesirable, was not planned for. 9/11 was categorized, in the 9/11 Commission Report, as a “failure of imagination,” because nobody imagined that a bunch of jihadists would fly planes into buildings. Interestingly, I’ve actually been told, on at least three different occasions, by three different people, that such a scenario was actually hypothesized as early as the late 1970s, by some folks working at SWC (Special Warfare Center). I was still in diapers when this allegedly occurred, but of the three people who told me that, I trust at least two of them implicitly, and one of those supposedly helped write a paper on the idea, so…  

I’ve never planned for a pandemic. In my lifetime, every single impending pandemic has seemed, from the word go, to be much ado about nothing. In fact, when the COVID-19 news first started coming out of China, I took the same approach. Then, as I pointed out last week, I got some information from some trusted sources that made me rethink it. Fortunately, I’ve seldom suffered from an inability to set aside my preconceived biases and look at new information objectively. So, I started looking closer, and finding new information that made me start wondering. Then, I started getting intelligence information from some OTHER trusted sources, and I started thinking more, and started looking harder at the data I was seeing.  

I’m convinced, as are most people who seem willing to say anything, that the second and third order effects from COVID-19 are going to be the most damaging. But...I suspect that is going to be because the first order effects: infection, hospitalization, and deaths, are going to be far worse than anybody is yet admitting.  

I would seriously like to be proven wrong, but I’m extremely doubtful at this point, that I will.  

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As I’m writing this (again, on Friday, 6MAR2020), I’m listening to Chris Martenson’s Peak Prosperity (almost) daily Coronavirus update. I just listened to him breaking down the numbers coming out of Italy, and he made the point that they don’t add up to what we’re being told. First of all, worldwide, outside of China, only half of confirmed cases are “recovered,” (and, I point out, nobody is defining what “recovered” actually means, in this case). Second of all, according to the numbers coming out of that country—and I hasten to point out that Italy is a first-world nation, with a commensurate level of medical care available—at least 61% of confirmed cases are requiring hospitalization. That’s a pretty big breakdown in the story that came out of the Chinese data that “over 80% of cases don’t require any medical care!”  

So, where’s the breakdown? China says that 80% of cases don’t require hospitalization, and only 2% die. A week later, Italy has 61% of their confirmed cases in the hospital, receiving care, and WHO has updated the international case fatality rate (CFR) to 3.4%.  

And, I’m paranoid, because I said China was lying it’s ass off about their numbers?  

Here’s what I SUSPECT (with the obvious caveat that I have no way to prove it. This isn’t even from sources. This is just my personal suspicion….): China lied it’s ass off about the numbers, all the way around. They lied about the rate of infection. They lied about the fatality numbers….and they lied about the demographic breakdowns. I suspect a LOT more people in middle-age died than they’ve let on.  

Today, during VP Pence’s daily Coronavirus Task Force briefing, one of the speakers made specific mention of several comorbities that put people at higher risk from the COVID-19 coronavirus: they included everything from existing respiratory ailments, to heart disease, to diabetes. That’s a little different from the early descriptions that this really only impacted people over 80, with respiratory ailments.  

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“It’s just the flu!” is a line I’m still hearing, more often than not, both locally and nationally. While some people are pushing the “It’s all Mass Media hype!” that’s the exact opposite of what I’ve seen in the little mass media coverage I’ve seen of this. Instead, I’ve seen our local media sources making light of the situation: “Gee, do we really have to tell people to wash their hands? Aren’t they supposed to do that anyway!? Har-har-har.”  

I “suspect” that, inside the Beltway, a large number of “very important” people are seeing HUMINT reports and overhead imagery, from inside China, that has them far more concerned than they are—or can, unless they actually want to cause mass hysteria in the population—and I suspect that it pretty clearly shows that the Chinese lied their asses off.  

So, why do I think it’s so much worse than we’re being told it is?

1) Today, POTUS signed a bill into law, providing $8.3 BILLION to fund the effort to contain and control this pandemic (and, with the definition of a pandemic being “(of a disease) prevalent over a whole country or the world,” this is—by both metrics—a pandemic, whether anyone is admitting that yet or not. It’s certainly a pandemic in China, and it’s more than fair to call it an international pandemic by this point, depending on how you choose to define “prevalent.”). That bill passed the House 415-2, and then the Senate (Rand Paul was the only dissenting vote), before being signed by POTUS, in less than a week. When was the last time that happened for a disease? H1N1? Ebola? SARS? MERS? (And, from everything I’ve seen—and I admit, I haven’t gone and read the bill itself—there were no last-minute pork barrel amendments to it).

2)  We’re still being told “It’s just the flu, bro!” but when was the last time that the White House—under ANY administration—established a Task Force that not only met daily, but briefed the public daily, led by the VICE-PRESIDENT no less, for the flu?

“Well, they had to, in order to keep people from overreacting!” Nonsense. Providing daily “Oh, don’t panic, it’s no big deal” briefings is far less effective at achieving that goal, especially with the American public, than POTUS simply saying, “You know what? This is a bunch of nonsense. It’s not that big a deal,” and then dropping it. Everytime a reporter asked about it, he could just say, “It’s the flu, bro!” and drop it. Instead, they established a task force, put the Vice-President in charge of it, and they are meeting daily to manage this. It’s not just the fucking flu.  

3) King County, Washington, which has been Ground Zero for COVID-19 in the US thus far, just bought an entire hotel to use for quarantine of expected COVID-19 patients. But...if less than 20% of confirmed cases need hospitalization, and it’s pretty easy to avoid getting, that shouldn’t be necessary, right? When was the last time a county government bought an entire hotel just to quarantine flu patients? “It’s just the flu, bro!”

4) I’ve heard from several HUMINT sources, in several different states, who work in hospitals, that their hospitals are initiating specific precautionary measures, including full PPE for ALL patient contacts, and testing ANYONE—patient, guest, or employee—for fever or other symptoms, before letting them through the doors. Hell, I’ve never seen a doctor or nurse do more than MAYBE put on a mask and gloves before seeing a suspected flu patient…

5) A number of multi-national corporations: Apple, Amazon, Google, and Walmart, have all placed restrictions on corporate travel internationally and nationally, because of coronavirus concerns. Granted, all of those companies do a LOT of business with China, but...if it’s not THAT contagious, nor dangerous, why are these companies risking shareholder ire and bottom lines, when some basic precautions like washing their hands and not touching their faces so much, could mitigate any risk dramatically. I mean, sure there’s insurance concerns, but...”it’s just the flu, bro,” and I guarantee those companies don’t normally restrict corporate travel because of flu.

6) United Airlines is reportedly (HUMINT source. I could probably look it up and find it online as well, but I trust the source, and I’m in the middle of typing this) cutting 20% of their international flights. They’ve canceled their pilot new hire academy, and will be laying off pilots as soon as the route contractions take place. (The same source just told me—again, this is Friday evening—that he is on a flight to Europe. Half his flight is empty. “Is that normal? For a Friday night flight to Europe?” “Nope. It’s usually fairly full, even this time of year, which is normally a slump time anyway.”

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So, yeah, I think this is a lot more dangerous, including to those of us who aren’t in our 80s, and/or suffering from co-morbidities, than we’re being led to believe. Sure, there’s only a couple hundred cases in the US so far (an hour ago, as I write this, it topped 300 confirmed), and a handful of deaths thus far (and by all accounts, most of those presented with co-morbities). But...as several epidemiologists have pointed out, we’re 2-3 weeks behind Italy, and we’re not really testing much yet. There are still reports of people showing up—or even just calling—their PCP (Primary Care Providers) or local Urgent Care clinics—in places with known clusters of cases already—and being told, “It’s just the flu,” or “We’re not testing until you need hospitalization.” So, the reality is, we don’t KNOW what the actual number of cases is yet, and we really don’t know how many people are dealing with really severe cases of it already, but have convinced themselves that “it’s just a really bad case of the flu!”  

I expect the number of confirmed cases to skyrocket in coming weeks, as the testing kits become more widely available. HOPEFULLY, that will drop the CFR dramatically...but, we’re also seeing that, from onset of symptoms, death doesn’t occur for 2-3 weeks with modern medical care (recovery generally is apparently taking 4-6 weeks, from a casual search of Internet sources, and I haven’t heard anything counter to that either). I suspect—and again, this is me, not my sources—that we’re just now hitting the start of a big boom, and this is going to completely jump the tracks in the next week or two (honestly, I’d say it’s already jumped the tracks, and turned into a train wreck, but….).

One thing I have heard, from several HUMINT sources, is that organizations are concerned with the short-term effects, but they’re more concerned with what’s going to happen when this picks back up again in autumn. I don’t know about that. Australia is still getting hit pretty good, and it’s summer there, so I’m not so sure that we’re going to have a respite during the summer months. Hopefully.  

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So, there’s like 5 pages of fear-mongering about the actual first-order effects of this virus. All of that, and just for me to say, as concerned as I am about them, I still agree that the second- and third-order effects are going to be far, far worse.  

Second Order Effects: Medical Care  

According to the Chinese numbers, 63% of medical workers that were exposed to this coronavirus contracted COVID-19. That’s well over half. We’ve—presumably—got asymptomatic carriers walking around, passing this shit around, and there’s already an admitted shortage of PPE. So, what happens to OTHER medical care needs, when half the staff of your local clinics and hospitals go down with this (even if it’s a “mild” flu-like case)? The transient populations of this country, and significant portions of the working poor, use the local emergency room like a PCP office, because they know they legally have to be seen, even if they cannot afford to pay. Emergency Rooms are busy as fuck, on a slow night.  

So, you get in a car wreck, and get transported to the ER (assuming EMS isn’t at below half staffing as well due to exposure…), to find it packed with fuckers, and a harried, overworked staff, because half of their co-workers are out of commission in quarantine….think you’re going to get decent care?  

Or, you get appendicitis, and need surgery, or you slice your fucking hand open cutting your steak, or you’re lighting off fireworks, on fourth of July, and catch a “mortar” in the face (don’t laugh...I saw it happen last year). My mother, as most readers are aware, had a pretty severe stroke last summer. She’s recovering well, but what would the impact have been if the hospital had been at half staff because of quarantine? And, this isn’t a far-out scenario. A fire department in Washington is already under quarantine—presumably for at least 14 days—because they all went into the nursing home where it was present already, and are now considered at risk...Sure hope nobody’s house catches fire…  

In our area, if an ambulance gets called, the local Sheriff’s Department is mandated to respond as well. So, Mom is experiencing really severe flu, puking her guts up. The ambulance is called (because nobody wants her puking in their car?), and the deputy responds as well. When it does finally get to the hospital, it turns out to be COVID-19, and now everybody on scene is quarantined—including the deputies who showed up. How quick before half your local LEO are off the clock, on quarantine? Or, LEO gets a call, and goes hands-on with some homeless dude...who turns out to be carrying the virus...now ALL the cops are quarantined as well...and gods forbid any of them made it back to the office before the test showed that it was coronavirus, and now we’ve got to quarantine the entire fucking police department…

Yeah, there are some potentially scary second-order effects.

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Third-Order Effects: Economic and Supply-Chain Disruptions  

One of the things I’m hearing from a lot of people is that they’re only worried about dumbasses like me panic-buying stuff and the stores running out as a result. Well, newsflash kids: We didn’t need to do any panic-buying. When we decided maybe this was real, and maybe it was more concerning than the news and the government was letting on, we made a few last minute purchases to bolster stocks we already had, (and, interestingly, as I looked through those purchases, I realized, none of the stuff we bought came in from China. It was mostly shit like canned foods or frozen meats to supplement what we produce), but...we were ALREADY prepared. I don’t NEED to panic about this, because I’m already prepared to deal with it.  

Here’s the thing though: China is shut the fuck down. Oh, they’re claiming that they’re back at 80% production, in some factories. Like everything else though, if you take what the Chinese are saying, at face value, I’ve got a prime piece of beachfront condo for sale, just South of Tucson. I’ll give it to you at a steal of price too! Between quarantines on products coming out of China, the fact that there’s no way they’re at 80%, let alone 100% production, and won’t be for some time…there’s a pretty solid chance that a significant portion of what you might need to buy in coming weeks and months simply isn’t going to be available.  

This isn’t just—or even primarily—because of hysterical panic-buying (although there will be more than a little bit of that, as there already has been), but because of economic contractions as funding sources simply dry up (have you watched the Stock Market over the last two weeks?). Between shit not coming from China, and shit not being made here either, the economy is legitimately fucked, I suspect, for quite some time. Certainly the consumer economy is going to be hammered.  

Restaurants? Want to bet folks are going to think thrice about taking Grandma out to supper at her favorite diner? Bars? Meh...bars will probably be alright, because people will rationalize their desire to drink. Sporting events? Even assuming state and local governments don’t put restrictions on large scale public events in the interest of public health, I suspect you’ll see a significant decline in the attendance at concerts and ball games. Even if it does turn out that I’m completely full of shit on the actual first-order impacts of the virus, are you going to risk going to a concert, picking it up off some nearby concert-goer, and then passing it on to Grandpa? We already have repeated cases of people who KNEW they were carrying the virus, violating their quarantine and going to concerts...people go to concerts and out to eat at restaurants with the flu all the fucking time. If this is “just the flu, bro!” why would they take it any more serious?  

Let’s look at the Italian numbers though, alongside projected numbers of the American populace expected to contract the virus, and see if we can make a hypothesis:

So, 61% of Italian confirmed cases are requiring hospitalization. And, low-ball figures now are claiming at least 40% of the American population can be expected to contract it (I suspect it’s higher, because I suspect there’s a lot of as-yet unidentified cases floating around out there still). The American population is 331 million. 40% of that is 132.4 million. If 61% of those require hospitalization (and remember, we’re not even LOOKING at the case fatality rate right now...just the number of cases in Italy—a first world nation—that require hospitalization), that’s 80.76 million hospital cases. That’s just below 25% of the American population requiring hospitalization! You think THAT’S not going to have an impact on the economy?
 

According to the American Hospital Association, there are 6,146 hospitals—total—in the United States (and 616 if those are non-federal psychiatric hospitals, so I don’t know how useful those are going to be in an infectious disease scenario….). Amongst those 6,146 hospitals there are a TOTAL of 924,107 staffed beds available. The AHA doesn’t list how many of those beds are full at any given time, but from talking to health care providers, I know it’s pretty significant. Let’s say a mere 50% of them are full (and I guarantee it’s nowhere near that low. NOWHERE near that low. I bet—without finding the stat, it’s closer to 85-90% of them are full at any given time). That leaves roughly 460,000 beds available. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that of the 80.76 million that the experts and numbers seem to say we can expect—in a first world nation—to need hospitalization (and really, that 40% infection rate is a pretty low-ball estimate, according to most of what I’ve seen from different epidemiologists), occurs over a two-year span. So, we’ve got 40 million people that need hospitalization, per year, with 460,000 beds available…..Uhm….Looks like a whole bunch of other counties better be checking the real estate markets for hotels…. But, again...you think that’s not going to have economic impacts. A quarter of the American population out of work, because they’re in the hospital?

What about the costs? Insurance companies going to be able to afford that? What about the costs of the under- and uninsured? How long can the hospitals eat the cost of uninsured ER visits, at that rate? Especially since we know this is likely to spread far faster among low-income and homeless populations?  

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Am I being a paranoid fuckface, and worried over what is essentially a non-issue? Maybe. I’d love it, if in three months, you’re all coming on here going, “John, you fucking idiot! Hahahahaha!” But, I genuinely don’t think that’s going to happen.  

I suspect this is going to get ugly. It’s going to get even uglier than it might, because a whole lot of “preppers” are still shoving their heads in the sand, saying, “It’s just the flu, bro! Don’t be so paranoid! Nothing happened last time, with H1N1!”  

You know what else didn’t happen with H1N1? The fucking feds didn’t start a White House Task Force to combat it. They didn’t pass an emergency spending bill for $8.3 BILLION to combat it. We didn’t shut down travel from a major trading partner country for the indefinite future to combat it. First world nations didn’t have 61% of confirmed cases requiring hospitalization to treat it. There weren’t 100,000 confirmed cases, internationally, in like the first three months.  

So, yeah, I’m taking this serious.  

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What Is John Mosby doing?

Someone mentioned, on my Mountain Guerrilla Blog Facebook page, “I wonder if John Mosby can just tend to his gardens and livestock and quarantine his family from the world until this thing is over.”  

As I responded then, “No. I can’t quarantine my family from the world until this is over. What I CAN do is pay attention to it, and take as many precautions as possible, including social distancing when possible.”

So, what does that mean?  

1) We double-checked our food storage. I KNEW we had a solid year+ of staples, but I confirmed. We made two shopping trips, and stocked up on some extras of the stuff we normally eat every day. We normally have a solid month of “normal” food on hand, but we pushed that up to three months—not coounting snacks—and my wife started incorporating the staples in already. After cataloging it, we’ve certainly got 18 months, and probably over 24 months of food, on hand. That doesn’t count livestock sources of food, and it doesn’t count the garden, which will be producing food inside of two weeks (if you can count lettuce and kale as food….).

2) I repacked my trauma bag, and we stocked up on cold and flu medicines for us and the kids. In addition, we stocked an entire extra year’s worth of daily Vitamin C doses (and it’s not like we don’t have a fuck ton of natural Vitamin C sources all around us). I’m planning on discussing my PACE plan for medical care in an article, but I’m good on medical, for anything within my scope of practice to treat, and for some level of nursing care, including isolation/quarantine for infectious patients, for some time.

3) We’ve started putting social distancing into practice. We’ve abstained from Judo and Gym visits for the last two weeks, into the foreseeable future. Fortunately, I’ve got a home gym that’s the equal of a Crossfit box, albeit outdoors (and I started on the building frame for it today), including Judo/wrestling mats, so I can work still work with the kids on those skills as well. The kids are homeschooled anyway, as most readers know, so that’s a non-issue. I have my real-life business, but I’ve put most of those projects on hold, except the ones I can do from home/at a distance.

When we do have to go to town, I’ve always been pretty good at social distancing anyway. I can mean mug most people into staying outside of arm’s reach, and I’m not shy about putting my hands up and telling people to back the fuck up, especially with this shit going around. We’ve been keeping the kids home on those trips, and if they do have to go along, keeping them in the truck, while one parent runs into wherever we need to go. Beyond that, lots of hand sanitizer before and after touching anything that others have touched, and not making physical contact with strangers is about the best we can do.  

4) I’ve made it a point to hammer at our people to start battening down their preparedness even more, as well. We dialed in some shortcomings with the communal clan food storage project (which is completely separate, for now, from our family food storage), and I’ve been harping on them to increase their family preparedness for possibly needing to shut-in and self-quarantine at home. Most of the other families send their kids to public school, because of two working parent household requirements, but we’ve been pushing them to consider what happens if/when the schools close down for lengthy periods of time.

5) I’ve provided our people with both my “trigger event” for chaining the gates at the farm, and informed them that, if they show up after that event, they should expect a 30 day quarantine when they arrive.

6) I’ve tried to pass on some of the information I’m receiving to other family, friends, and neighbors. Like most people, for the most part, they’re scoffing at it. “It’s just the flu, bro!” Well, okay. I’ve done what I can do. I can’t cram it down their throats, and it’s not my job to do so. I can only set the example for others to follow, if they choose to step up and try to meet the standards required.  

Beyond that, there’s not much specific we can do, that we’re not already doing, as part of our normal lifestyle. We stay far healthier and fitter than most Americans, because we spend so much time outside, doing physical stuff, and we do well-rounded PT daily, and we eat reasonably healthy (and it’s even healthier now that we’re not eating out at all…). We take vitamins, multivitamins, and extra Vitamin C. We get lots of sunlight and fresh air, and will be eating tons of fresh vegetables in the coming weeks and months. So, if the numbers ARE accurate, we’re less likely to contract the virus, and if we do, we’re less likely to see negative effects from it such as needing hospitalization.  

The fact that most trauma injuries can be treated at home, and then nursed back to health means we have less need for the hospital (I buried a Benchmade folder in my thigh a couple years ago. It was an accident, and I was being a dumbass. Not doing stupid shit, but not using the right tool for the job either. I went to get stitches, but even then the doctor said they probably weren’t necessary, given the rapidity with which I had secured and dressed the wound...I’m not worried about most of the kinds of injuries we’re likely to sustain), and if it’s beyond our ability to deal with, we have a number of nurses and at least one MD in the clan that can be counted on for assistance in a pinch, until/unless they end up quarantined.  

So, the second-order effects, barring something really dramatic, aren’t too much of a concern for me either. I’m really more concerned about the long-term, third-order effects on supply-chain issues, and replacing things we use up. My current plan for that is to simply continue assessing things on a day-to-day basis, and if I notice something that seems like it might wear out quicker than anticipated, or otherwise need to be replaced, I’ll go try and get an extra/replacement. If that ends up not being possible, because of supply chain issues, then we’ll move on to the contingency plan.  

Example: I use my chainsaws a lot. I have two Stihl, pro model saws. I have extra bars and chains for both of them. I have one extra fuel filter for each. I may, next week, go buy a couple extra fuel filters, but I generally don’t need to replace those very often, in my experience, so I’m not super-concerned about it. I’m more concerned about fuel availability. So, I filled every single fuel can on our place. I’ve got a LOT of fuel stored here now. If, two months from now though, I cannot get fuel for the saw? Well, I’ll go back to using my axes and hand saws. Benefit of building a timber frame house, by hand? I learned how efficient it actually is to use hand tools, when you know HOW to use them.  

We’ve got three vehicles on the place. One is in the process of being rebuilt/repaired (it’s been a very lengthy process, as it’s not been a huge priority. It just moved up a notch, but it’s a relatively rare vehicle, and parts are a motherfucker to get in the best of times. I THINK I’ve got everything I need to get it running, but it won’t go back to being a daily driver, because it’s also my best off-road vehicle, and I don’t want to risk normal wear-and-tear if I’m going to have trouble getting parts. If one of the other two go down, well, we’ve got a spare. If all three vehicles go down, we’re back to being infantry. Fortunately, at that point, we don’t have very far we need to go, and if we do...we walk anyway. No big deal.  

So...we’re pretty well set if this does turn out to be as bad—or worse—as I expect. Thus my statement, that I’m not particularly worried. Pandemics are part of the historical trend in dying empires. I suspect we (the US as a nation, not my clan) will come out of this on the other side, with a severely contracted economy, a dramatically reduced population, and a smaller international footprint. Then, we’ll try to convince ourselves that it’s no big deal, nothing has changed (“It’s just the flu, bro!”), and we’ll continue to be the dominant world power that we were 30 years ago. Most of the rest of the world will continue to ignore us—as they’re already doing as much as possible—and in a few years, there’ll be another pandemic that will have a similar effect. It’s just part of the cycle. It is #TheFateOfEmpires.  

That having been said, my job—as I’ve seen it—from the beginning of the Mountain Guerrilla Blog, is to help others, namely you, the readers, prepare better for the things we’re experiencing. Part of that has been providing training guidance for security, through my experiences as an ARSOF NCO. Part of that has been providing preparedness guidance through our combined experiences living, and raising a family outside the normal civilized bounds placed on people by the imperial culture. That ranges from mindset issues to off-grid living. Part of THAT in turn, is helping you understand when something is more than what you’re being told it is. That’s my goal with these thoughts on the coronavirus/COVID-19 issue. I sincerely believe, based on the intelligence information I’m receiving—and analyzing within the limits of my ability to do so—that this is far, far more than “just the flu, bro!” It’s going to have far greater impacts—first, second, and third order, than the vast majority of people—including “preppers” are seeing thus far. I suggest getting your shit dialed as tight as you can, while you still can (and for some of you, that was last week or the week before…).  

For some of you, you’re going to look at this and say, “Meh. Fuck that guy. I’m already prepared!” If that’s the case, good for you! If that’s not the case, and you’re just telling yourself that so you can sleep tonight, well, I feel bad for your dependents.  

For some of you, you’re going to look at this and say, “Fucking doomers! It’s just the flu!” I hope you’re right. You’re not. It’s already been demonstrated, by people that actually make a living studying infectious diseases that it’s not the fucking flu, but well, maybe all these super smart nerds, all over the world, who make their living studying bugs in microscopes, are wrong, and you’re right. I hope so. If you’re wrong, well, for your sake, I hope you’re like the 39% of the Italians who have contracted this and didn’t need hospitalization for it. Or, I hope you’re part of the 30-60% of the population that is projected to probably not contract it at all. I know how much I would wager on an investment that only had a 60% chance of returning a good benefit, and it ain’t much. On a 30% chance? Man, I don’t give money away.  

This is the last article I’m going to write specific about the coronavirus/COVID-19, until the first week in July (April, May, June is three months), when I will return to the subject, just long enough to say either, “Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa,” and apologize to you for fear-mongering pointlessly, or to say, “I fucking told you so!” (and, if something really, really dramatic happens in the meantime, I’ll probably break that promise...like hundreds of thousands of Americans start fucking ending up in ICU). In the meantime, I’m just going to return to our normal programming of security and general preparedness, although, obviously a lot of that will be tied in with the coronavirus/COVID-19, since it’s relevant. For instance, this week, we’ve got an article on medical preparedness. I’m GOING to talk about about infectious disease prevention through PPE, because that’s part of basic medical preparedness.  

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