Posted By RichC on March 7, 2020
I’ve purposely put off posting anything to MyDesultoryBlog as the worldwide spread of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (#COVID19) began. Partially since it is challenging to separate the unfounded fears and panic from the real threat since the reporting varies based on news sources (Information from China is particularly questionable but western media sources aren’t all that stellar either). On one hand, we want to take the health risk seriously, on the other, we have infectious diseases that we live with all the time – the common cold and influenza which spreads every year without panic and are the cause for 1000s of deaths, even in 1st world countries. I also think it is wrong to transpose mortality rates for COVID19 from one part of the world to countries who are better prepared for health emergencies. There is also such a thing as “viral seasonality” (debated) that we generally associate with the common cold and flu season, as well as those we have hampered with vaccines. So, I’m not sure how to appropriately react …besides falling back on what we learned in Boy Scouts – Be Prepared?
As for “being prepared,” that means best practices for protecting yourself and decreasing the spread. First , “wash you hands” … and second, “wash your hands, again.” Most health organization stress that over and over. Use soap and water and consider even using a 60% alcohol-based hand rub (usually mixed with a skin moisturizer – was thinking about mixing up a home-brew since I have a couple gallons of 99% isopropyl alcohol from my printing company days). Step two which is just as important, is to prevent coughing or sneezing openly … do it into your sleeve/elbow. Then “wash your hands again,” just as you should do after using the bathroom.
Also use a little commonsense and wash up before preparing foods or eating and when around babies. Do the same around those with depressed immune systems and the elderly who the the most susceptible to illness. This is all World Health Organization advice and a good practice all the time.
Now if you are traveling and in an area where there “might” be someone who is sick, then go the next step. Take along disinfectant wipes to wipe down surfaces and “consider” traveling with a face mask (click image above for demonstration as to how to use them). The best option is also to use the single-use blue and white mask; the blue side is waterproof and to the outside, and the white side is absorbent and it is worn on the inside. Be sure it pinches around your nose and is fitted under your chin. When you reach your destination, dispose of properly … and again “wash your hands.”
And now for the advice that is not necessarily from the WHO or CDC:
Don’t stockpile medical supplies or hoard items. Don’t panic, overpay or fall for scams. Do your daily business and only change your habits if there is coronavirus case in your community. If you are sick (even the common cold), stay at home and call your doctor before rushing immediately to the hospital … and avoid sitting in the emergency room if you suspect you might have the sniffles (personally, a hospital emergency room is the last place I’d want to be waiting).
Again, let’s not panic when looking at “the growing numbers” going forward. The detection kits are “finally being issued” to more heath agencies, so we will see more cases as screeners diagnose cases. This disease will in all likelihood continue to be passed from human to human, so there will be more cases as screening go up. Current CDC reporting only includes their numbers … which will only adds to the skepticism as to what is being reported and what we are being told by our government officials (the Chinese government may not be the only one not sharing all the information – but understandably, the cases do need to be confirmed).
Business, investing and the economy
As for the investing side of things, once again, hindsight is 20-20. I shoulda sold everything .. but to my defense, the economy, interest rates, inflation, jobs openings, wages rising, low unemployment and even the trade deals are all positive. Personally I find it hard to believe that the US economy is going to take a long term hit? Even seeing the Federal Reserve act quickly with a 50 basis point rate cut and the aggressive nature of our Federal government in being proactive to stimulate the economy seems like a very promising sign. We are not sitting on a house of cards just waiting for the slightest trigger … the only thing that looked a bit out of balance was the “forward looking stock market” pricing in perfection (and our long term inaction on the U.S. Debt and Deficit or the funding of Medicare and Social Security … but neither is new).
It will be interesting if we look back on this stock market decline as an opportunity to invest … or a notable pandemic of the Black Death or Great Plague proportion? Seems to me that the later is unlikely and that if anything COVID19 will be added to a list that no longer sends investors to the exits (Zika, Ebola, H5N1, SARS-CoV-2, HIV, etc).