International Forecaster Weekly

What if it were Bad?

I feel the economic fallout is however going to be bigger than most expect for China especially. When you start shutting in 50 to 100 million folks, that disrupts a lot of supply chains.

Bob Rinear | January 29, 2020

The big topic in the news is this Chinese virus. While we could spend our time today talking about the Feds, and what they’re up to, I think we should take a minute and discuss the proper way to respond to a biological ‘attack” so to speak.

What is the single best way to protect yourself from any virus? Isolation. But we’ll get to that in a minute. The most important thing you have going for you is information. You have to know what is going on in your immediate area, and by that I mean up to 100 miles.

You really need to keep your ear to the ground, and network with as many people as you can to find out if someone has been infected in your “area.” Why is this important? Because the rate of multiplication can be horrific, and people travel a lot. For instance, just take my wife as an example. Her office is 50 miles from our home. If she was the first person infected in Sarasota, she could be spreading the virus in Punta Gorda, EVERY DAY.

That’s why keeping a listen inside your 100 mile radius is important. Now, what do you do if the first person is confirmed in your area? You start playing defensively.

You will want to avoid crowds as much as possible. Go to the 24 hour grocer at night, instead of during a crowded day. If you take mass transit, bite the bullet and drive yourself to work instead. Avoid eating out.

The less people you come in contact with the better your chances of not getting ANY form of virus.

Hygiene is second only to isolation. Wash your hands frequently (after using the toilet, sneezing/coughing, touching face, touching others, or public surface like door handles etc).

Regarding public surfaces be mindful of contact points, push doors open from a lower or higher point as these areas are less likely to have been touched, you could also use paper towel or sleeve.

Wash hands before and after handling, preparing, and serving foods. Keep your home clean and maintain good hygiene. A good strategy is to make a 10% bleach solution in water and use that to spray down hard surfaces. Use bleach based laundry products on contaminated fabrics.

What about masks? A mask is only half the equation. Viruses enter the eyes, nose and mouth. While a good mask will keep the critters out of your nose and mouth, what about your eyes? One good sneeze from an infected person, will send hundreds of droplets through the air. If one lands on your eye, it will enter your tear ducts and “boom” you’re sick.

This is why surgeons use masks and face shields. So don’t forget to get some form of safety glasses/goggles that fit snugly. Yeah you’ll look stupid. But you won’t get sick.

Now let’s suppose it’s simply running rampant. It’s an epidemic. Now it’s time for real isolation. You stay home. Because you’ve been a good reader of my blather long enough, you have enough food and medical supplies to stay indoors for a couple weeks if necessary.

What about duct taping doors and windows? Forget it. You’re not going to get sick from some airborn droplet that was coughed up a block from your home. You’re only worried about the 5 -7 feet around you. You don’t want people in that space.

People wonder if the packages they’re getting from China could actually harbor the virus. The answer is maybe. Viruses are strange creatures. Depending on the type, they can live for quite a while on a hard surface. Especially if it’s cool/cold. Viruses don’t like excessive heat, it’s one of the reasons we get the flu more in winter than the dog days of summer. Heat erodes their RNA. But it’s Winter in China. It’s winter in the US. Viruses like the cold.

So, it depends on multiple factors, such as the virus in question, the surface it travels on, and then of course the environmental conditions which it is exposed to during transit. Cold viruses for example can live for as long as 7-10 days on a surface, flu viruses anywhere from a few minutes to 24-48 hours, stomach bugs are particularly nasty since they can last several hours or days but C. diff (not a virus) for example can live up to 5 months on a hard surface. Norovirus (the virus that typically invades cruise ships and daycares etc) can last for several weeks and those who are infected who vomit, risk nebulizing infectious droplets into the air.

Is it possible that a box of “stuff” you ordered on Amazon, that was shipped from a province in China has the virus in it? It’s possible, yes. Someone put those goods in the box. If they spit, coughed, sneezed into that box while packing your order, then yeah. It could be. But the chances are small. It’s even smaller that it survived.

If you’re paranoid, here’s the protocol for safety. Make a 10% bleach solution and set it aside.

It would be a good idea to put on a gown if you have one. Then put on your safety glasses, N95 particle mask, and finally nitrile gloves. The gloves should be stretched over the cuffs of the isolation gown.

Before bringing stuff into your home, using your 10% beach solution, spray the outer container of the package while it’s outside, and allow to sit for a 3-5 minutes. Cut the package open and again, spray with 10% bleach. The contents of the package should all be taken out and individually sprayed and left to sit for 3-5 mins and wiped down.

You can now remove your PPE in the following order into a new plastic bag: 1) gloves, 2) safety glasses, 3) mask (only from the ties, do not touch the filter), if you have a gown, this would be the time in which you remove this, and 4) immediately wash your hands and do not touch your face.

That’s a lot of work to do, but hey, some people are pretty shook up over the media attention to this thing.

I pay special attention to hygiene lately, since my wife’s getting Chemo treatments for her breast cancer. As you know Chemo beats the hell out of your immune system and we have to do all we can to keep her from getting sick. So while I’m not in any form of panic over this Chinese virus, I’m always in a mild panic just being out in public. Oh and guess what? She runs a company of caregivers, the very people that are exposed to all manner of crap. It’s amazing that her and I haven’t gotten whacked with something.

As I mentioned Sunday, we need to keep an eye on this, but there’s no reason for panic. I feel the economic fallout is however going to be bigger than most expect for China especially. When you start shutting in 50 to 100 million folks, that disrupts a lot of supply chains. When nations close borders, trade takes a hit.

We’ll know more by the weekend for sure. Keep your ears and eyes open.