Could COVID-19 cause a worst-case scenario or something more catastrophic for our nation? Let’s work this scenario out.
Every week on my Civil Defense Radio podcast I open the show with “Welcome to Civil Defense Radio where we discuss all things Civil Defense. Civil Defense is about building resiliency by becoming better informed, prepared and organized to meet whatever disaster might affect you and your community.”
I have focused the podcast mostly on informing the public about the many threats we face as citizens and as a nation. I’ve done this primarily because while developing my own concept of civil defense and personal preparedness, I found very little mainstream discussion of these major threats.
These are not just the threats listed on the websites of Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), or your state and local emergency management agencies. No, these major threats are much more of an existential threat to our way of life by attacking and affecting our core as a nation – our electrical grid.
More Lethal Threats
These threats are more than just the regular natural and manmade events like tornados, hurricanes, floods, or mass shootings at schools, churches and sporting events. These are threats that keep high-level government officials awake at night. Our military and intelligence professionals pray their worst fears are not going to become reality in the next days, weeks or months. They work diligently to keep them from happening .
The more catastrophic threats I am referring to are electromagnetic spectrum attacks from a nuclear burst above the United States, a large solar flare, van-portable or man-portable electromagnetic devices, and coordinated multi-site cyber and physical attacks on our power grid. All of these are not only disastrous for the nation, but also for the lives of millions of our citizens.
These threats would disrupt, if not destroy the national electrical power infrastructure, sending Americans back to the 1800’s overnight. I’m not talking about some prepper fantasies, but real life threats. There are thousands of hours of congressional hearings and testimonies from experts in and outside of government informing our political leaders, but the government bureaucracy has done very little to correct or harden the grid enough to mitigate these threats. The states are not much better at hardening our grid within their borders.
Then there are events that could also cause great havoc upon our national economy, but to a lesser degree than those listed above. The lesser threats are terrorist attacks, financial collapse and a national epidemic or international pandemic. The developing virus known as COVID-19, is one such potential crisis that could send our economy into a tail spin. This is why the US Congress and the President have authorized over $8.3 billion in funds to fight this disease in the United States.
Short and Long-term Effects
The short and long-term effects of COVID-19 could have a tremendous affect on life in America. As of this writing there are 164 cases, and 11 deaths in 20 states. Virginia just reported their first two cases in Fairfax. Test kits are in short supply right now and the government is working to correct the shortages. But nobody is talking about this virus as an economic threat.
We are not sure how long this threat will be active in America before a vaccine is developed and distributed. We hope it will not take long to produce, but this is one of the uncertainties of this global health crisis.
Regular life activities could be disrupted, or worse, you could lose a friend or loved one from the virus. We suggest you stay informed, active and follow the directions of your local health officials. The US Surgeon General, Jerome Adams, thinks the virus is contained in certain areas of the country. But what if this gets worse, before it gets better? What if it lasts for many more months, what would that look like?
The American Red Cross has helpful tips on their website, as does the CDC. . Health officials are suggesting a minimum of 14 days of food and water, and 30-days supply of medicines and health aides should you need to self-quarantine a home. We suggest a minimum of 30-days of self subsistence needs at home.
Long-term effects are much worse. In fact, some of these effects are already being reported. The media has been diligently reporting on almost every aspect of this situation. Even though the number of victims of this virus are relatively small, compared to the annual Flu viruses (2019 was12,000 deaths 2020 could be 30,000 deaths), the constant drumbeat of the media reporting has caused many to panic. Panic is never a good thing, especially when it adds to the fear and uncertainty of a crisis like this. It is better to be properly informed of proper concerns and precaustiions one should take. It is also identifies the need to be prepared and use common sense. If you haven’t prepared yet, then now is the time to do so.
This all sound bad enough, but can it get any worse? Actually, yes it can. Past pandemics have killed millions of people around the world. America has some of the best and most advanced scientists and healthcare professionals in the world, and more people will survive this crisis than anywhere else in the world.
In our modern America, we live in a “just-in-time” world. Meaning all of our supplies are delivered to the stores, supermarkets and pharmacies as stocks are depleted. So, shortages on the store shelves can happen quickly and resupply can be delayed as warehouses and manufacturers work to fill their back orders. Having a preparedness mindset prior to an event like this would help mitigate fear and panic in most Americans.
What if the fear and panic does take over and people are too afraid to go to the stores and other places where people gather for fear they may become exposed or infected with the virus? This has a cascading affect on the entire economy. Take these stories of the travel industry and other businesses as an example of what could happen nationwide.
The Travel Industry
The news has reported numerous segments about three or more cruise ships that have people quarantined because of exposed and infected passengers. This has caused a sharp drop in bookings on cruise ships. In fact, they have been hit so hard, they are running specials that are really low, just to get people to on their ships again.
Airlines have had to fly empty, or nearly empty flights into airport hubs just to keep their access to those airports, or risk losing them to other carriers. Hotels, motels and convention centers have had most, and in some cases all of their bookings for various events cancelled. Any business that supported these meetings and conventions, like caterers, florists, wedding planners and cake makers, etc., will struggle because of the fear and caution people are exercising due to the COVID-19 crisis.
Consider the huge loss of revenue from all of these businesses and consider the impact it is having, and will have, on the ability for them to keep people employed and the potential of loosing their businesses. What about the employees of cities, counties and states who will be impacted by this? How long will governmental services be provided in this environment, especially when major businesses are making plans to allow their employees to stay home? What kind of potential shortfall will these jurisdictions have because of low tax revenue due to the lack of commerce?
Statewide and National Commerce
Grocery stores and big box stores in some areas of the country are already seeing shortages of some regular items, like N95 masks, toilet paper, diapers and such. Many, probably too many, of these items are made in China. This contributes to shortages and slow resupply, especially if China isn’t shipping products because of health threats internally. Then the cargo ships may be quarantined in port or off shore for 14 or more days before they can be offloaded at US ports. Will dock workers fear getting ill if they offload Chinese ships? This all adds to the direness of this situation.
There is a story on GeekWire.com about Amazon changing its coronavirus plan, telling employees in the Seattle area to work from home until March 31st. If Amazon, which is headquartered in Seattle (King County), doesn’t want their employees to risk coming to work, then how many of the employers and government offices will follow their lead? Well, not be outdone, Seattle area Microsoft and Facebook offices are also telling their employees to work from home.
The NBA is preparing their business plan in a workaround during this crisis. They sent out a memo to its franchises telling their teams to prepare to play games without fans in attendance, but also identifying “essential staff” who would be required at the games, if it becomes necessary.
The only sort of benefit to this crisis in Seattle is their busy roadways are nearly empty. How many other cities will soon be instituting plans like Seattle businesses are now? How will this affect interstate commerce and our national economy? How long before the government is able to assure people that it is safe to return to their normal lives?
Expanding the Seattle Situation Nationwide
Let’s just expand this scenario in Seattle to the rest of the nation for the sake of illustration.
Imagine if nearly all companies are telling their employees to stay home, what kind of commerce will they be engaging in? None! No, Amazon will sell products, but there won’t be anyone to deliver the goods because the drivers will be afraid of contracting the virus and elect to stay home.
Medical personnel will be in short supply as many of them will be exposed and will be quarantined for at least two weeks after each exposure. For those who have families, what will their families do, and where will they go? Who will care for them?
Police, fire and EMS service will be degraded when they begin staying home to care for their own families rather than go to work. They and their families will fear them getting infected and bringing the virus home. Once infected, they would be quarantined for at least two weeks, possibly away from their families. Who would care for and protect their families while the public servants were at work or in quarantine? A famous example of this is the New Orleans precedent after hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Who will respond to fires? What about the waste water treatment plants and other services our local jurisdictions provides for us? What if local governments are hampered enough by absenteeism to be ineffective? What happens to the residents of these jurisdictions? Mutual aid agreements will not be honored because the other jurisdictions have the same crisis in their areas.
Who will protect America’s families as the civility of the nation decreases due to the lack of law enforcement services. In an environment Without Rule of Law (WROL) you will not only have to fight for survival, but you may be fighting your neighbor for the food in your own pantry because they failed to prepare when the first indications of this virus being a threat was announced.
Informed, Prepared and Organized
This is why I say that we need to be informed, prepared and organized into civil defense groups in our neighborhoods and communities. It worked once, it will work now also.
In this COVID-19 scenario it is past time to be informed and prepared. Everyone is already informed to some degree. Some are taking it seriously and have done what they could to prepare for the duration of the situation, hoping that it doesn’t last long. Some won’t take it seriously and will not prepare at any cost. In the last group are those at the lower end of the economic rung who don’t have the ability to load up on food and other supplies needed to wait out the virus to runs its course. The area food banks may have already run out of food for some time and nothing new is coming in.
The last element I suggest people do is get organized. By organizing in your neighborhoods, ideally before a disaster, you will have a support network of friends in the same situation as you. This support network will be able to lend a hand when and where needed. There may be someone who has a bit more medical training or experience than the others in your group. That person can take the lead in being the one who watches over the group on medical issues. There will also be those good Samaritans who will always lend a hand because that is how the Lord made them.
If you have planned, prepared and organized your neighborhood and community prior to a crisis, then you will have other areas of Civil Defense covered also. The longer a crisis lasts, the greater potential for a loss of civility to develop. The loss of civility comes when a person or persons look to take advantage of the situation and others, either due to their lack of preparation or their greed. The criminals and gangs are always on the prowl and will use this type of crisis to make their mark.
You can establish a neighborhood watch for your neighborhood to ensure that everyone remains safe and secure during the crisis. This would mean that every household had a specific radio that would be linked to everyone else. There would be a duty roster for security watch, welfare checks and any other duties that would need to be coordinated within the neighborhood. The neighborhood would work together to help make everyone’s life a bit easier and safer.
Each neighborhood watch group in the community would coordinate with the groups on each side of their area to help ensure everyone’s collective safety and security. This is sometimes called a neighborhood protection plan (NPP). Each group working with each other to ensure security threats are quickly identified and nobody is sneaking into the area to rob and steal.
How Our Forefathers Did It
As you can see, the coordinated efforts of the group in these types of situations is better than one lone family attempting to keep the world at bay. Our forefathers learned that coming together in colonies, toens or groups was a better strategy for survival. There are more hands to do the work, and more skills in the group should they be needed.
This is just a short scenario war gaming the crisis, but one that must be considered as the COVID-19 situation develops. I haven’t taken this very deep into the WROL environment or listed all possible problems and situations. I do not wish to elaborate more than I have as this is a very deep and scary subject for many. This should be an exercise for your civil defense group to work through. It will require an imagination to develop the scenarios needed to plan and prepare the group. Also, it must be understood that there may be a crisis that far goes beyond what is normally experienced during emergencies and disasters. You will need to make some serious decisions and take some concrete actions to prepare for another crisis like this or one that is much worse. But, working on the basics will get you closer than you are today. That is progress.
I suggest you check out our Civil Defense Radio website for more information on the threats and our podcasts, especially episodes 29 & 30 Grid Down – Death of a Nation by Jonathan Hollerman, or episode 48 Surviving a Financial Collapse with Fernando Aguirre, and other episodes for more on what living WROL would look like.
Our podcasts may be found on our website at www.civildefenseradio.com, or find us on your favorite podcast app. These and others will give you a better insight into what the environment could be like in a long-term situation where everything seems to be coming apart and local government services are inadequate for the task at hand. You may also wish to read “the Guide” I wrote that helps one better understand what it takes to start a civil defense group in your jurisdiction. You can find it here.
Let’s all pray that this virus dies out soon and we can all get back to normal. But I caution you, do not believe that it means you can forget about being informed, prepared and organized for the next event. It is better to build on the lessons learned during this experience, expand on your preparations and food storage, and keep developing the internal relationships within your group. This is a very important aspect to group cohesion and the ability to survive together long-term, should that need ever arise.
If you have any questions, please contact us through our website or Facebook and we will help you as much as we can.
And may God bless you and keep you until next time.