“The biggest question is this — how severe will the pandemic be, especially now at the start,” Chan said. “It really is all of humanity that is under threat during a pandemic.”
True, the definition of pandemic is:
pandemic: an epidemic that is geographically widespread; occurring throughout a region or even throughout the world
So what are the facts about Swine Flu? I attended an informative webinar about swine flu from Firestorm today. Some highlights are:
Dr. Stephen Cunnion explains Swine Flu:
- The swine flu is not transmitted by eating pork. People catch the flu from other people passing the germs.
- The first reported case was on March 22nd. The gestation of the influenza virus can be up to a week long so we still don’t have exact facts and figures.
- The flu virus is the number one cause for lack of productivity for companies any given year.
- The BEST WAY to avoid contracting the Flu is the use of Hand Sanitizers and the avoidance of super crowded places.
How is the Flu transmitted?
- Directly via human to human contact, droplet or airborne contact
- Indirectly via objects handled by someone who has contracted the flu
So how is this swine flu thing going to play out. A few predictions about the Swine Flu / H1N1 flu in the US. I shouldn’t call these a prediction, this is more of how I see things possibly playing out in a “best and worst case” scenario.
End game: It is a new virus. It is here permanently. People get used to it and live with it. We just have to make it to September when a new vaccine is produced. In the meantime the virus responds to treatment and regular flu prevention tactics.
Short Term Media Panic:
- Media hysteria leads to –
- shut all schools in the USA and we all stay home.
- NBA, MLB, NFL all play to empty stadiums
- NYC subways shut down, the American (wasteful/isolated) car rules
- Many small businesses shut down because nobody is working. Worsening the depression recession. (when can we call it a depression?)
- Businesses can’t pay people because, well, they don’t have any money at this point.
- Employees call the office and say “um…. can we get some cash?”
- Everyone realizes that they need to go back to work. But there are no customers.
- Employees, white collar included, come back with partial telecommute schedules.
- Most work hourly because there isn’t enough work for salary.
- Hourly wage works against self-containment of infected workers as there is no “sick time” so they have a monetary incentive to come to work even if sick. Irony.
- You can’t buy a surgical or painters mask anywhere
- Western Stores sell out of handkerchiefs
- Bleach gets very popular (a dangerous chemical, some will injure themselves with it)
- Pig farmers go out of business and religious nuts gets all old-testament righteous about it.
- Purell, the maker of sanitizers gets very popular / stock goes up
- Density of housing goes up with families moving in together to cut costs even though this spreads disease faster.
- Community unlicensed child care facilities form on an ad-hoc basis. Mary covers Tues, Thur. Bob covers the kids Mon, Wed, Fri. etc…
- Neighbors helping neighbors.
- Untrained unlicensed facilities means accidents will happen that are not related to the flu.
- Home schooling goes up.
- Abandonment of marginal properties by upside-down home owners skyrockets, particularly in dense North Eastern cities
- Or alternatively this may not happen as banks may not bother to kick out foreclosures or tenants because there is no market for upside down houses.
- Victory gardens in the backyard are very popular. Seeds sell out, but few know how to garden anymore.
- Community gardens
- Web tutorials on gardening become popular.
- Theft of community vegetables as is typical of the tragedy of the commons.
- UPS, FedEX and the USPS all see a surge in business. Drivers paid a premium.
- Amazon.com has huge success selling books, videos, anything that fills time for a family trapped at home!
- Wall mounted hand sanitizers sell out, only to find you can’t buy refills for them.
- The Internet slows to a crawl with the increase in throughput from telecommuters
- Local Internet Service Providers force through variable pricing on bandwidth with public consent because everyone wants the network to run faster.
- Gun stores have an increase in sales, with all customers entering and exiting the store wearing masks. Really.
- Hard alcohol and beer sales up, wine sales drop based on discretionary spending priority. More bang for the shot with the hard stuff.
- Gas prices drop – with no place to go demand side of equation drops, at least until the fall of 2009 when oil and natural gas go up with more people staying home.
- Home safe sales increase. Gun safes as well.
- Debit card use increases so people can avoid touching cash and physical artifacts of money.
- The virus reveals itself to have genetic targeting factors meaning different races have different fatality rates.
- Increase in religious activity, but perhaps a drop in mass/service attendance
- Cruises see a huge drop in use, advertise guest/square foot ratios to emphasize separation. Heat detectors throughout the ship to measure body temperature.
- Blogging increases, facebook increases as people have time on their hands. Short term.
- Tamiflu and Relenza sell out because it is safer for docs to prescribe those if they are unsure of what a patient has, and it takes 3 to 5 days to get the test results back
What can you do now?
- MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A WRITTEN FAMILY EMERGENCY PLAN. And have distributed it.
- Antibacterial Soap – buy it. Purell is sold out, but hand sanitizers are not as good as actually washing your hands anyway.
- Bleach – buy it. Best sanitizer/cleaner ever. And cheap. Just be careful with it.
- Facemasks – questionable if these work, but if you go to the mall and EVERYONE is wearing one, social pressure says you will want one. Handkerchiefs will do.