Preppers, or survivalists, prepare for a broad spectrum of emergencies: disruptions in the food supply, civil unrest, tainting of the supply of potable water, cataclysmic weather events…and on and on. Lately, talk of the novel (new) coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has been high on the list of topics. The virus that causes the disease is called “SARS-CoV-2.” While all the other prospective emergencies exist, though perhaps somewhat unlikely in most circumstances, COVID-19 appears to be far from a remote possibility. It seems to be spreading like wildfire. I think it might behoove us to become preppers, at least for the short term.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) anticipates that the spread of COVID-19 will eventually (and probably soon) become a pandemic. The results of a pandemic affecting the U.S. population suggests the following may happen (and I quote a page from the CDC website):
Widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the United States would translate into large numbers of people needing medical care at the same time. Schools, childcare centers, workplaces, and other places for mass gatherings may experience more absenteeism. Public health and healthcare systems may become overloaded, with elevated rates of hospitalizations and deaths. Other critical infrastructure, such as law enforcement, emergency medical services, and transportation industry may also be affected. Health care providers and hospitals may be overwhelmed. At this time, there is no vaccine to protect against COVID-19 and no medications approved to treat it. Non-pharmaceutical interventions would be the most important response strategy.
Among the approaches the CDC recommends to address the spread of COVID-19 and to protect individuals against the possibility of contracting the disease are:
- getting a flu vaccine;
- taking everyday preventive actions to help stop the spread of germs;
- taking flu antivirals if prescribed;
- getting OUT of the habit of touching one’s hands to the face;
- frequently and thoroughly washing one’s hands;
- staying home if exposed to a family or household member who is sick;
- covering the nose and mouth with a mask or cloth if one is sick or is around sick people or at mass gatherings where the pandemic is already occurring; and
- increasing distance between individuals in social settings.
In addition, with the idea of “prepping” in mind, I have read that supplies of prescription medications may be impacted in the event of a pandemic. To combat that potentiality, some recommend stockpiling, to the extent possible, prescription medications, especially those that may be required for survival, such as diabetes medications, blood thinners, etc.
Recommendations to avoid social settings likely would come in the event of a true, localized, pandemic. So, for example, people would be advised to stay home and not go out for groceries, dining, meeting with friends, attend school, etc., etc. That possibility suggests it would behoove us all to stockpile: foods that store well for the long-term and significant stores of fresh water.
Heretofore, I have considered preppers to be dwellers on the fringes of sanity; people absorbed by the idea that monstrous things might occur at any moment that could disrupt society. Since watching news that the streets of Wuhan, China, a city of more than 11 million people, looks like a ghost town because almost no one ventures outdoors is enough to convince me that we need to take COVID-19 seriously. To date, more than 2,800 people have died from the disease and almost 83,000 cases have been reported.
Even with all the data flooding our news feeds and circulating in conversation, I have seen little evidence at the local level, including in my own house, of taking the situation seriously enough to begin taking actions toward preparedness. I hope we—all of us—don’t wait until it’s simply too late to begin preparing. More than that, I hope the CDC’s fears that we’re about to experience an awful pandemic in the U.S. are proven unfounded. Let’s hope a vaccine is miraculously discovered that addresses COVID-19. In the meantime, though, let’s pay attention to and learn from the preppers.