Mind-blowing Exponential Growth and Pandemic Parallels

The following visualization of exponential growth will be astonishingly surprising. Do you know what exponential growth looks like? Even if you do, read the following example to renew your understanding.

I’m drawing a parallel with that of a pandemic, just to give you an idea how fast an extremely contagious pandemic could be. Especially in today’s world of global and high speed travel, a worst-case pandemic may have the potential to somewhat approach the mind-numbing growth as in the example below.

That said, there are several very important factors which would impede the spread of pandemic compared to the example that I’m about to present. This includes natural immunity, vaccinations, and the R0 (pronounced “R naught”) contagion value of the disease. Among other factors. However as you may logically reason, it’s still potentially pretty scary…

The thing is – as you will see when you read this – most people will be caught off-guard, thinking that there’s no big problem…

Exponential Growth | Stadium Filling With Water

The following example of exponential growth has been floating around the internet for years. It’s an interesting analogy (visualization) as to how exponential growth works…

It’s 1 PM

 It’s 1pm. Imagine a normal sized football or baseball stadium. You are sitting in a seat at the very top of the stadium. You are overlooking the bowl of the whole stadium.

To make things more interesting, imagine the stadium is completely water-tight.

The question is, if a single drop of water is added to the stadium, and then one minute later it doubles and two more drops are added, and then one minute after that it doubles again to 4 drops, and so on.. the water volume doubling in size every minute, how much time do you think you have to leave your seat and get out of the stadium before the water reaches your seat at the very top?

Think about it for a moment. It seems like you would have plenty of time to get out, right? Especially given that you can see it rising and could judge for yourself when to leave?

 The first drop of water lands right in the middle of the field, at 1pm. Tick-Tock goes the clock…

It’s 1:45 PM

You’ve been watching the water slowly filling the stadium grounds down there on the field.

45 minutes after the first drop, at 1:45 PM, the water is covering the field and lapping at the seats of the lower 1st-level rows. It doesn’t look terribly deep. Seems like plenty of time to get out if need be…

At 1:45 PM the stadium is 93% empty

No worries, right?

It’s 1:48 PM

Shockingly, as you watch, the stadium goes from 93% empty to being half full, in just about 3 minutes!!

Holy S! You better get outta there!

But guess what? Too late…

It’s 1:49 PM

In one more minute, the stadium goes from half full to completely 100% full and spilling over the top!

So, you sit and watch the single drop growing, doubling, and after 45 minutes all you see is the playing field covered with water. And then, within four more minutes, the water fills the whole stadium.

This means that you think you are safe because it seems that you have plenty of time left. Whereas due to the exponential growth you really have to take action much sooner if you want to have any chance of getting out of this situation!

Think about that. Let it sink in…

While a pandemic will not go entirely exponential as visualized in the example above (given some of the factors I mentioned above), the speed at which it could spread across the globe could be stunning. If it’s a killer pandemic with high transmission / contagion , it could become horrific, given our world’s present population and population density.

This is not meant to be frightful. Well, I suppose it is to an extent. Rather, I’m suggesting that “if” an extremely contagious and deadly pandemic were to spring up, it’s best to recognize it early.

Preparedness for a deadly pandemic is simple. Here’s what I mean… To avoid a pandemic outbreak, you need to avoid other people. Period. At least until it has burned itself out. That means enough supplies at home to endure the length of time until that happens.

Continue reading: 21 Things For Pandemic Survival

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87 Comments

  1. Rice on a Chess Board Story….. The same thing Ken is suggesting on the Growth of a Pandemic.

    Tis hard to imagine how fast “things” will multiply in such a short time
    Look at the Human population, how long till we reach 50 billion?????
    Here is a hint….. It took over 200,000 years of human history/evolution for the world’s human population to reach 1 billion; and only 100 years more to reach 7 billion. The Stadium is filling very fast my friends, and this old world is tired.

    Rice Story;
    There was once a king in India who was a big chess enthusiast and had the habit of challenging wise visitors to a game of chess. One day a traveling sage was challenged by the king. The sage having played this game all his life all the time with people all over the world gladly accepted the Kings challenge. To motivate his opponent the king offered any reward that the sage could name. The sage modestly asked just for a few grains of rice in the following manner: the king was to put a single grain of rice on the first chess square and double it on every consequent one. The king accepted the sage’s request.

    Having lost the game and being a man of his word the king ordered a bag of rice to be brought to the chess board. Then he started placing rice grains according to the arrangement: 1 grain on the first square, 2 on the second, 4 on the third, 8 on the fourth and so on.

    Following the exponential growth of the rice payment, the king quickly realized that he was unable to fulfill his promise because on the twentieth square the king would have had to put 1,000,000 grains of rice. On the fortieth square, the king would have had to put 1,000,000,000 grains of rice. And, finally, on the sixty-fourth square, the king would have had to put more than 18,000,000,000,000,000,000 grains of rice which is equal to about 210 billion tons and is allegedly sufficient to cover the whole territory of India with a meter thick layer of rice.

    It was at that point that the sage told the king that he doesn’t have to pay the debt immediately but can do so over time. And so the sage became the wealthiest person in the world.

    1. There is a similar math problem for elem/middle school students. It goes like this…As your parents if they want to see this, knowing that it is impossible, but fun. Ask your parents if they would rather give you $20 a week allowance or to give you a penny on day 1, and double that amount on each following day for a month. So it would be 2 cents on day 2, 4 cents on day 3 and so on each day for a month. The parents choose that option. So number a piece of notebook paper straight down the page from 1-30. On day 1 write down 1 cent, day 2 write down 2 cents, day 3 write down 4 cents and so on until you get to day 30. Astounding.

  2. A current application of exponential growth was ordered by some anti-Christian leader, who dictated that his followers should go to what he called, non-believer countries, and breed them of of existence. With each man having several wives, each having an average of eight children, how many generations would it take? Is questioning this type of cultural and religious aggression being racist?

    1. hermit us,
      No, it is not racist, it is being alert to the world around us .According to a former muslim , muslim men are allowed up to 4 wives and are encouraged to multiply. We have over 2,000 mosques in the U.S. at this time. Should we be concerned ?

  3. – One of the ‘good’ things about Ebola is that it is so lethal it kills its host before any individual host can spread it to more than one or two additional people. Imagine if it could do like influenza and spread to multiple new hosts before it kills an individual. This is one of the problems foreseen with bird and swine flu and its multiple variations. Were it to go airborne, all bets would of course be off.

    Flu learned how to swap sections of its DNA long ago, allowing it to remain a dangerous contagion for a long time now. Given the right combination, you get a flu pandemic like in 1910.

    A small town, no longer in existence (guess why), left a cemetery near my home that contains 83 headstones. Only one is outside of a six-month period in 1910. At the time, not every family could afford a headstone, and multiple headstones only a month or two apart was beyond a lot of families. There are still a number of unmarked, but obviously occupied, gravesites.

    – Papa S.

    1. – When I was checking dates, I recall at least one stone that listed a mother and three of her children. The one “outside” the period I mentioned was from the Mid-seventies.

      – Papa

    2. Papa,
      In my home town I always wondered why all the deaths around 1910. At that time I didn’t know about the Spanish flu epidemic. Then I moved to a big city and the same thing all these deaths, some had whole families in the same grave. I said ok gotta figure this out…
      The Spanish Flu killed more people than WW1 did.

    3. And here we are, 6 month later. In the middle of the pandemic you talked about. Hopefully we’ll learn from in order to avoid the deadliest ones.

  4. The stadium full of water provides a great visual. As does NRP’s rice on each square.

    Back when I first read S. King’s “The Stand”, I remember spending time thinking about how far and wide something could spread – particularly when international air travel is so commonplace. A mutated flu could be catastrophic, and Mother Nature’s way of rebalancing Earth’s population.

    But it’s not just the power of a pandemic. Think about how little it would take to start a stock market crash, or a run on the banks, etc… whether triggered by cascading computer trading (we’ve seen how that works already) or word of mouth, or the fake news media. Each person tells a few more and before you know it a panic ensues, a system is overwhelmed causing more panic, and so on.

    I sound like a broken record, but until I can leave suburbia permanently, I am constantly vigilant as to goings-on. I hope the pandemic, or other massive SHTF event never happens, but if it does, I hope to be alert enough to be able to G.O.O.D. In time. For now, its the best I can do.

  5. Interesting concept. It is my understanding that our Surgeon General has stated that the homeless situation on the West Coast could start such a pandemic. Also “germ warfare” has been used since ancient times, as I believe Rome used to catapult dead bodies into a city under siege to spread disease .
    My fear is that some “bad actor” like North Korea or Iran might spread some toxin as a weapon, having a cure for their own people. I have a friend who is employed in a Federal Law agency who told me that Hezbollah has an estimated 60,000 “agents” spread worldwide.

    1. The weapon has already arrived. It’s opioids. Opioids and those tainted with fentanyl and other lethal substances.

      Tell me one more time why the US has any business dealings with China. Tell me why the US allows any mail/packages/shipping containers from China.

  6. Deadly epidemic is my greatest fear! In army I had special training in biological and chemical protection. Nasty things. Ebola is a fun thing compared with special products made in army laboratories. Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, USA, UK made that things. Anthrax from that laboratories is extremely dangerous. And it is made to disturb not to destroy. Can you imagine real killer made for total destruction.
    Isolated farms are only way to survive long enough. If you are very lucky! If they use several different types no way you can make it!

    1. I recall that when the Soviet Union fell their bio-warfare division was exposed. One of their attack strategies was to attack us with 3 or 4 different forms of Small Pox, so we would have to come up with multiple ways of treating each version. One type for L.A. another different one for San Fran as an example. Same disease/virus and symptoms, but requiring totally different vaccines to treat.

      1. As well as the Chernobyl disaster. The mini series on that was quite interesting. Of course they blamed it on the CIA.

        1. – Mrs. U,

          Missed the miniseries; where was it? As for Chernobyl itself, I know way more than I should. I was about seventy miles from it, in the Caucasus mountains.

          – Papa S.

          1. Seventy miles, wow. I hope you did not glow!!! It was on HBO a few months back 2019. Can probably stream it now or buy?

          2. – Mrs. U,

            Myself, I have some ‘funny’ stuff showing in my blood.

            DW and kids, DW is now a 10-year breast cancer survivor and has had a Hysterectomy.

            Oldest DD has had GYN problems since, as she was just coming into menarche at the time.

            Son, Pretty clear as he was pre-school at the time and we lived on the third floor of heavily-built German apartment building. Wasn’t allowed out to play for two weeks, only traveled to baby-sitters (same building) and home during that time. youngest DD, wife was in last trimester with her at the time. Young’uns are developing immune system at that time. She had hers very damaged. Was worked up for failure to thrive, Cystic Fibrosis, and several other immune diseases when young. We were also ‘followed’ to R/O child abuse throughout most of her childhood.
            She is still small stature, but has now 3 happy and healthy little boys.

            So, yeah, we had issues with Chernobyl, and still do.

            – Papa

          3. – Forget to mention, family was in Rhine river valley where all the radioactive dust settled at the time.
            – Papa

  7. The 2 most popular airplanes are the 737 and Airbus they hold 140 or more people. They become infected, half get off while the other half make a connecting flight on 10 different airplanes now there are 1330 more carriers of this disease just on the different airplanes while the ones that get off some ride the airport tram infecting 50 or more people who get off the tram for a connecting flight. In less than a week this disease would spread nation wide. Now think of an incubation period of 5 days where you are contagious before any symptoms you have just wiped out? 30 years ago when I was a mechanic on passenger airplanes I never went into the jetway until all of the people left the aircraft.

  8. We just never know do we. In New Jersey there is the mosquito born virus Triple E or EEE now spreading to humans. It affects the brain with swelling etc. Associated with horses.

  9. When I was in 4th grade, my father showed me the power of exponential growth with a penny, and a pencil & sheet of paper.
    He began by telling me to double the worth of the penny, then double that result. Then he told me to keep doing it.
    After a few more rounds of multiplying, it was amazing — I kept at the exercise for a few minutes longer.
    Crazy but it had a profound effect on me and I never forgot it.

  10. It’s interesting that this article is up today. I started re-reading “The Jakarta Pandemic” by Steven Konkoly yesterday. How would you know when to start staying home? How much luck would be involved in you not being exposed before it was even making headlines? A pandemic is definitely one reason I prep. I do not want to have to go out to stores (while they’re still open) when people are infected with a super-deadly flu.

    I do enjoy playing the game Pandemic, though!

    1. – Wendy,

      Shouldn’t be too hard to find, “The Hot Zone” by Richard Peterson, a non-fiction book about the Ebola epidemic before last. If you read it, I will guarantee you will not sleep well. It is non-fiction, but reads like the latest thriller hot of the press.

      – Papa S.

      1. Papa Smurf
        They had a mini series on during the spring time. We watch all the episodes except the last one and we lost it during a dvd/dvr clean up. Now we are looking for it to play again. If we happen to find it again will post on the blog.

        1. I checked, and it’s a mini series on National Geographic channel. If you happen to have “on-demand” with your cable or satellite provider, you’ll be able to watch previous episodes. The book sounds like something I might pick up… except if it keeps me awake at night – maybe not!

      2. Thanks, Papa Smurf. I’ve had Amazon recommend that book to me, but I hadn’t bought it yet.

  11. It’s only a matter of time before there is another pandemic and it could easily be orchestrated by terrorists. The peak air travel times in the US are at Thanksgiving and Christmas and it is also the time when people have colds, the flu and are coughing so an infected passenger would not be suspicious. Infect several hundred who are willing to die for the cause and put them on flights at various large airports across the country.

    People are in a hurry to get to their destinations so they will not chance missing a flight by asking to be rebooked because they are sitting by someone that is sick. They become infected, pass it along to their friends and family then continue to expose strangers on the flight home along with the flight attendants, gate agents, restaurant workers etc.

    By New Years it has spread like wildfire across the country and the world. Never underestimate the depths of depravity our enemies are willing to go.

  12. Population control has been on governing minds for a very long time now.

    Early attempts to try to stabilize various populations with contraception and birth limits failed and were politically dangerous. So, they were abandoned. For a time, conferences in Europe put forth the idea of Nuclear sterilization of the Third World, but this too…was politically unacceptable.

    So, world managers decided the only viable method of population control would be via diseases, specifically manufactured to be lethal, but controllable, which would reduce populations as desired. Since these diseases were “natural” people would not blame the government, nor would the government involved know their country was being decimated by design. A perfect solution.

    In fact, since a particular manufactured disease, already had its cure fully developed prior to its use on a population, once a population goal was met…the cure could be used as a bargaining chip with the afflicted country, such as obtaining mineral rights in payment for obtaining access to the cure.

    To make things harder for those such targeted by the pathogen, the cure is not a vaccine, which an impacted nation might learn how to develop, but a nucleotide serum…which no one, but the creator of the disease, could ever create.

    Have no fear. Controlling the population of Earth is well in hand.

  13. Richard Preston is a writer ( not a doctor or microbiologist.) so his work is readable to those that have minimal education and training in medical field and microbiology. Papa Smurf has already mentioned:

    The Hot Zone which was a best seller about hemorrhagic fevers like Ebola. ( also to include Haanta virus from Korea and the virus associated with the four corners area of the American Southwest. Virus is spread by the droppings and feces of deer mice.)

    Richard Preston wrote a follow up book called the Demon In The Freezer detailing the workings of USAMRIID and the weaponization of smallpox virus both with the USSR by Ken Alibek and within USAMRIID.

    Both of these books are good reads for most on this here website. I really enjoyed these books having become a nurse and having earned an “A” grade in Microbiology in school.

    Keep in mind that a certain amount of population culling takes place each year within our Skilled Nursing Facilities each Winter with the cold and flu season. The 4.5 years I worked as a CNA within my facility saw a population reduction of 20-33% of the population each year. One bad year which had people lined up outside an overflowing hospital led to a 40% reduction in our population within our facility. The main cause of illness?: the flu. I suspect things have not changed that much within our Skilled Nursing Facilities to this day.

    Remember that Pestilence is not new. It was one of the 4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse. and he rides among us today.

  14. If you want to watch a semi-realistic movie about a viral based epidemic, I would like to recommend the movie:

    Contagion featuring Matt Damon, Lawrence Fishburne, Jude Law and Bryan Cranston. This is a movie about a super-flu type of event. This movie was also made after consulting with the CDC in Atlanta, GA. ( kinda boring with no helicopter chase scenes or other derring-do.)

    My plans for a contagion burning through my community? I will don my scrubs, pack my lunch and go to work as usual. I work on the front lines of health care and the only thing that will keep me at home is if loved ones need me more at home.

    If I catch something that proves to be lethal, at least I will die with my boots on. This is where I place my trust in God and my own clinical abilities.

    1. Hi Calirefugee

      Wonder if between the time of catching something and it becoming lethal you might pass it on to your family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and care givers? If something is truly burning through a community, perhaps having you healthy at home would keep your loved ones healthy, and be exact what they need. A dilemma.

    2. Calirefugee since I too have to work on the front lines of healthcare, my plan if pandemic seems coming (As We have better information than most “Civilians”) is to establish a Medical Isolation for myself. My family is important as is my employment.

      Staying as well rested, hydrated, hand washing, PPE and herbal anti-virals hopefully will keep me safe until it is patiently too dangerous to go outside my homestead. By them I suspect that the hospital will be shutting down due to lack of staff.

      By then I will be on a 14 day self imposed quarantine and I hope that is enough. I have enough modern anti-biotic and such to treat a lot of issues. Otherwise I am at peace with my God and hope I avoided giving those I love the epidemic kiss of death.

      Medical isolation could be the difference between welcoming your new SHTF arrivals AND the “New Spanish Flu” and seeing them at a safe distance for 14 days and then being one family.

      For those who are curious, Medical Isolation means no direct contact with out PPE (Personal Protective Gear: Mask, eye goggles, Gloves, disposable painters suit), Strip down, shower before going back to family. DOWN WIND or at least 100 feet from your area, all supplies are a ONE WAY trip from your kitchen etc. to the Isolation area until situation is cleared. No taking dishes back for washing… I SERIOUSLY recommend Fencing as part of this. Pets can carry the “New Spanish Flu” back to you and your family too.

      1. Me2, Calirefugee, Anony me , and others.
        I would get the herbals that have the highest anti viral capacity known.. and use them alternating. IF I were in direct care now, My schedule would look like.daily doses in some mixed order lie this:.garlic, venus fly trap,Olive leaf+ green tea, Lomatium, oil of oregano,colloidal Silver,elderberry syrup, garlic ,sweetgum tincture. rinse and repeat. UNTIL exposed directly to a known pathogen..once that happened would go dirctly to the VFT formula one cc under tongue with water, for 4 min then swallow… since is non toxic..
        for home bound, self imposed medical isolation-having sufficient to treat everyone present or likely to come is paramount.Yes even the dog…needs to have some doggy safe herbals… not only will they spread the germs they can get sick with same symptoms.Garlic would be prepared as a Allicin Vinegarette.all would receive.

      2. Just Sayin’ good idea but just how much material would be needed to cover say 2 x 14 day isolations (As epidemics rarely are a one off issue) for say 10 people?

        Personally I have plenty of elderberry, garlic, colloidal silver, and back tea. The rest not so much right now.

        If your dealing with limited space living quarters and severe weather (where plastic tents wouldn’t work) you will have to set up a negative pressure room with a air lock for your home. A fan blowing OUT side from the isolation area and 3 sets of overlapping heavy plastic doors in a plastic “Hallway” tent INTO the isolation room would be useful. The idea of negative pressure is that all airflow is leaving your house through that isolation room. A candle or cigarette smoke would show airflow going into that plastic hallway tent NOT in reverse.

        Evidence tape or fencing to keep folks from gathering near that isolation outflow window (maybe to chat with them, BAD IDEA) would be needed. People that violate medical isolation SHOULD join the Isolation group. That PPE is to reduce the chance of contamination WHILE providing care for them and decontamination showers to prevent carrying that problem back outside the isolation zone. Stay OUT otherwise for that 14 days.

        Again one way passage of materials as I would have trash and body wastes bagged and passed outside through a window to a PPE equipped person for storage-disposal.

        A burn barrel is a pretty good idea for paper plates and such. Don’t need stray dogs getting into that isolation waste….

        Also DURING a suspected epidemic STAY HOME. We are preppers do we really need a Wal-mart run during a dangerous situation?

        If we are only suspecting a epidemic AND we NEED supplies have ONE Person do the shopping. A pickup truck with the driver NOT the shopper would make keeping that vehicle safer. I can wash out a pickup truck bed easier than upholstery AND the Cabin Vents.

        Place the groceries outside the home, have the shopper shower outside and someone with PPE handle putting their clothing into an outside wash system or bag it for later. The PPE person cleans the supplies as best as possible with diluted bleach.

        The same outside medical isolation wash station useful for this situation.

        A messy situation but far better than your family dying or disabled by the “New Spanish Flu”.

        Some would say NO body leaves or comes in once a epidemic occurs. Good Luck with that friend. Stuff happens and can you really leave your children and their families outside the wire with out support?

        Some folks in your family MIGHT be exposed before you know the epidemic is here. As SOON as they show symptoms Isolate them ASAP. Amp UP your herbal anti-viral and pray for wisdom. Even if your herbals keep you alive and recovering you may be too weak to do the daily survival duties. Plan ahead while your feeling decent.

        1. JS
          Good info.
          Get the immune system strengthened prior.
          I have heard the flu bug is starting early this year.
          Some we know have had it or à form of a flu bug. Along with others having the sniffles starting.

      3. – Just FWIW, here at Urgent care in West Texas, we had our first family all Positive for Flu A yesterday. It’s coming.
        – Papa S.

        1. Papa Smurf the stoic if I die I die with my boots on or set up a medical isolation set up to reduce the chances I give the “New Spanish Flu” to all those I love?

          Curious what “Working in Urgent Care, this is my plan as well means.

          Do folks need a snapshot on how to establish a 3 door air lock using heavy plastic and PVC pipe? No I think the mention of needed materials gives the plans. A BIG Roll of heavy duty plastic clear AND Black plastic a Preppers most useful item when things go sidewise. Duct tape a close 2nd….

          1. – “My plans for a contagion burning through my community? I will don my scrubs, pack my lunch and go to work as usual. I work on the front lines of health care and the only thing that will keep me at home is if loved ones need me more at home.

            If I catch something that proves to be lethal, at least I will die with my boots on. This is where I place my trust in God and my own clinical abilities.”

            This is my job. It may well be that I will be sleeping in the garage, or a tent in the back yard. My family understands this, we have talked about it before. I will do what God guides me to do. Should it become obvious that I need not to go to work, because my family needs me at home more, that is what will happen. In the meantime, though…

            I am actually past the age that I could retire. I can do so, should I need. In the meanwhile, I still fit in that group that, “I have been shot at and missed; Sh@t at and hit. I can keep going until they do hit me.”

            – Papa S.

    3. – Calirefugee, others,
      Working in Urgent Care, this is my plan as well. I no longer work with special needs, as I would have difficulty disengaging myself from them when something like this should come up. Prison/psych, both of which I have worked with, would not be as difficult; but special needs would be as difficult as disengaging from family when they need.
      – Papa S.

    4. Yeah, Contagion was an eyeopener. Being retired I no longer have to worry about going to work or staying home.

      During the last Swine flu epidemic patient 1 for our community was a hotel registration clerk who did remember registering folks who seemed sick from Los Angeles.

      There was another Swine flu scare back in 1969. It never really happened but the nation was on the receiving end of a large scale campaign to get vaccinated. The rest of the world didn’t bother and the epidemic never happened. As soldiers we were all immunized. Many of the US population also received the shots. When you think about it it might not be released by the bad guys and if it was going to be released by us there would be a push to get the population vaccinated.

      I asked a question a few years back, if they came up with a vaccination for the bird flu who would be in favor of it. The majority of the answers were against it. The bird flu was limited in scope at the time but killed 65 to 70% of the people who caught it. And people feared the vaccination more.

      There could be times when a bad epidemic could be released. It’s rather frightening.

  15. Didn’t we discuss exponential growth just recently? I first encountered the half-full visualization in Cussler’s book Sahara.

    Worked in cutting-edge epidemiology earlier this decade. Fascinating stuff. Learned that infection depends on a combination of factors including ease of transmission (for example cough droplet vs intimate body fluids), robust bug (how long can it survive outside a host), and susceptibility of potential new host. Those with TB or chronic malaria are more likely to acquire HIV infection, so these diseases are often addressed together.

    Malnutrition also increases susceptibility to infection which should be considered as we contemplate a disaster scenario.

    I remember how the West African public’s reaction to potential Ebola infection changed when it was discovered in sweat, and not just in more intimate body fluids. People became much more conscientious, which reduced susceptibility.

    I enjoyed the novel Pandemic by Daniel Kalla (2005) where terrorists modified the flu. Also the 2011 movie Contagion which contains this line: “Someone doesn’t have to weaponize the bird flu.The birds are doing that.” Our county fair no longer allows waterfowl to be exhibited; this to reduce the potential of an avian flu outbreak among poultry.

    Social isolation, quarantining the healthy, good personal hygiene, and staying as healthy as you can all reduce chance of infection. Easier said than done. Retirees have better chance at avoiding others, but with age comes a less robust immune system.

    Some might find this interesting:
    “Readiness for Responding to a Severe Pandemic 100 Years After 1918”

    (link broken)

    Conclusion: “…we are more prepared for a severe pandemic than people were 100 years ago; however, notable gaps remain.”

    1. Anony Mee,
      During the 1918 flu my great grandma made great grandpa sleep in the garage. She wasn’t taking any chances with her children. Funny at the time I was told that but I would do the same now.
      PEACE TO ALL
      MadFab

  16. Response to Anony Mee and me2:

    I still work at a larger hospital at present time and the infection control dept will set out guidelines of when to call out for work. Usually it goes as follows:

    Fever over 100.0 F, Productive cough with yellow or green sputum, malaise or fatigue, loose stool.

    If you have any of these signs or symptoms, infection control trumps the staffing office and you will be ordered to stay home rather than show up for work that day/swing/noc whatever shift you work.

    John Q public should be made aware of these guidelines if they drive to a crowded ED and wonder why they see so few staff around during a really bad flu event.

    I would like to have a home in the hills away from people both good or bad butt my job, at present time is to help those around me that are sick so I continue to show up for work as long as I am physically able. ( and my spouse and loved ones are OK within the home I have set up for them.)

    The fear of getting sick and bringing home a contagion is what prevented many bright people from going into the field of Nursing in the first place. This concept scared a lot of Paramedics from their field of expertise as well.

    I approach this subject with the same stoicism that I had when I was a young beat cop checking my weapon and placing the shotgun in the lectrolock of the patrol car: It is an occupational hazard and it proves to be too much for you to handle, step out and quit right now. Make room for those able and willing to do the job in your place.

    One day, I will die. I pray that today is not that day. Lord allow me to do my job and allow me and my coworkers/partner return to their loved ones safe at the end of shift. Now lets get to work and treat patients/patrol your beat.

  17. Me2, To answer concern re:cost, of isolation.and additional antivirals. oil of oregano cost abt.25$ a year,for my use on high end of dosage scale . I take sl for lyme. homemade tamiflu takes 6-8 weeks to extract. look up double tincture.2cups per person is a logical .Look up tamiflu doses and uses/indications.. Know that certain things will destroy gut flora and replacements will be needed.buttermilk, yogurt are food sources.also acids in stomach destroy many natural remedys.

  18. The aftermath of a bad flu: ( notation: same can be said of an economic recession.)

    For most of us that are working, we notice changes around us. 10 years ago, I came to my new job in my new state and hit the floor administering breathing treatments in the form of albuterol via nebulizer to a population formerly heavy smokers. From start of shift to the end of shift, the hum of the nebulizers was broken only by the charting we were doing.

    It was some months later that we heard that the flu bug that was going around that year was especially virulent. (i.e. “a bad flu year” with both mortality and morbidity being very high within the US and the city I was working in.) It takes that long for the stats to be gathered after the field reports come in from larger hospitals, clinics and extended care facilities.

    I have observed the same tendency take place during recessions as well. You do not know how bad things are or how rotten things have become beneath the facade of civilized behavior until you receive your pink slip. Those of us that do not get a pink slip either keep quiet and do your jobs or we relocate and use this time as an opportunity to make changes. The report on the extent of the damage will not come out for a year or more.

    Having studied both economics, history and working in health care, I used to place blame on those people that stayed and tried to do their jobs when disaster struck. These days, I have more empathy for those that choose to try to do their jobs as the flood waters rise, people get sick around us, or we see an increase in the number of homes becoming vacant around us.

    This is why I stated I will probably continue donning my scrubs and shoes and continue going to work until I either retire or am no longer able to. I am older and I have seen things like this before. ( both recessions and really bad flu bugs burn through a community.).

    The decision as to what to do: stay at home or go to work or relocate to a different location is a deeply personal decision be made among all involved in the family unit/group etc. I have to respect people’s decisions and I try to keep quiet at work about this topic.

    The point being: you do not know how bad an event was until a year or more after the reports are turned in and the statistics are loaded into the computers and a spreadsheet is generated.

    1. Calirefugee maybe I was unclear. I work along side Infection Control and every year we would discuss the start of the flu season over coffee with the first few flu positives and then more and more until it was a “Bad Year”.

      Every year I modify my outside the homestead activities as it seem prudent due to flu season activities as well as bump up the anti-flu herbals like Elderberry. I choose not to use such herbals 365 days a year as I suspect the immune system would start responding less and less to those herbs.

      I will skip social events, even those I have bought tickets for as I see fit due to flu situation. I have not left the homestead aside from work runs entirely for 6 weeks when Infection Control said we were in raging flu time. I get plenty of rest, I stay hydrated, and I am NOT Ashamed to FLEE from someone coughing in Wal-Mart-Kroger’s during flu season.

      As I have 93 year olds living with me I am VERY Careful not to bring home the flu. If I thought it needful I would wash up on the porch and bag my clothing to keep suspected nastiness from my family.

      As far as stepping aside to allow others to do the medical work I do… I am usually the LAST One sick (IF ever) from the Flu and we always have ads for more employment as we are always short handed. Not too many WANT to do our job friend. If YOU or I are down Sick then our section is even Shorter Handed than usual.

      In short if I stay home from a pandemic then the hospital is likely closed due to lack of staff.

  19. to me2 and Ken:

    Maybe an article on our steps for infection control within our homes would been order as a spin-off for this article Here is what I have been doing for the past 20-30 years in a variety of jobs dealing with infectious agents, dead bodies and other hazards of field medicine:

    1. I educated my wife and set up our garage and laundry room as a strip off, clothes change area with an empty laundry hamper, clean sweats and the laundry detergent was always stocked and the washer/drier are always in good working order. I park my truck outside such that the space is used for that purpose.

    2. Decontamination starts when the garage door closes. It can be chilly and seeing me walk through the house naked on my way to the shower is not at all uncommon.

    3. I have a metal pan with bleach solution and a towel to step into with my shoes and the shoes are placed in a plastic bin after I scrub off the gross contaminants and the shoes either stay in the garage or they come inside to dry after decontamination. I do not immerse my shoes in bleach or soap solution. ( that just wears them out prematurely.)

    4. After a hot shower, I have a beer while I do the laundry and cook myself some food. Part of this routine is washing dishes in our dishwasher so dish soap is another must-have supply in our house.

    5. I scoop the cat litter boxes and feed my critters and the food I cook and consume is relatively healthy, bland and simple during times of flu and sickness within our community. I choose to not experiment with new or weird diets during these times because the last thing I need to do is be running to the can during these times at work or at home. On days off, I will cook in large batches and eat leftovers reheated for several days in serving-sized containers.

    ( this usually means a lot of macaroni and cheese, beef stew, spaghetti in meat sauce, Chicken and rice. salad with ranch dressing etc. We try to continue consuming fresh fruits and vegetables as much as we can during this time as well.).

    I am hoping other health care providers can chime in and a very informative spin-off article can be made by Ken by those of us that work in healthcare.

  20. To Ken and Matt in OK:

    Sorry about my bad typing, I was drinking wine while typing the above reply:

    “Maybe an article would be in order for the decontamination process within our homes such that our family members do not get sick from the bad stuff we bring home from work”.

    With that in mind, I would like to pass on some other things I have observed from my time as an LEO: The cops that enter homes that contain meth and or production of meth precursors can be just as hazardous as dealing with the microbes from a decomposing body. As nurses, we all wear washable clothing.

    As cops, I would/and have observed that many cops have switched over to using the kydex holsters and web gear because it can be washed off and does not retain the odors or chemicals of a contaminated dwelling or automobile.

    Hopefully, the cops can be outside putting up evidence tape until the investigators arrive wearing tyvek suits and respirators.

    Sorry for bringing up this gross topic but true hazmat situations can be pretty gross in the real world.

    By the way, you can catch a cold or flu from a dead body and it can be tough to get rid of. Coroners know this. Wear a mask.

    1. We are so mobile these days it’s a world issue and will not be a local no matter where you live.
      I put out a while back that I had made decon suit kits for around $20 sized for the team members and sent them with them. It contained a properly sized hooded and footed tyvex suit, sized kitchen gloves, duct tape small rolls from the dollar tree, a facemask, a Tupperware container to store everything.
      I use only kydex gear from glove pouch, radios, cuffs etc. Because it is much easier to wash.
      I’m fortunate in the way my house is set up that I can strip down and go straight to the washer from an outside door. My wife knows when I call to make sure everything is cleared out of there. Decomp, feces, urine, OC spray it doesn’t matter.
      I take the flu shot. I don’t believe in it but my wife has a compromised immune system so I do it for her. Everyone has to make their own choices on it. In fact mine is this afternoon if I want it for free. So tonight is a wash with fever.
      SHTF- At the suggestion of others I have a sprayer for a slurry soap solution, I have the decon kits with tyvex suits and a low lying designated area that’s away from a water source to set up a tent that I have.
      You will need gloves. Keep in mind that they break down so don’t buy 10K at once. Buy them in yearly increments. The same with the rubber stretch on masks. I buy heavy kitchen gloves to go over my other gloves because they do rip and tear as you work/fight and I don’t want the cooties.
      Watch for those with latex allergies and prepare accordingly.
      You will need replacement clothes and maybe gear. I’ve done the military logistics of it and it’s a pain. As a normal Joe trying to be ready it’s daunting at the cost of full proper replacement.
      How many of you have ever geared up in all of it and your kit and actually trained? You aint trained till you drowned in your masks LOL.

      1. Matt,
        Shouldnt the suits be impervious? Like PVC? Tyvek breathes, so in theory it could still allow transmission? They do have PVC coated Tuvek suits, usually disposables for pesticide spraying?

        1. Kulafarmer I’m not sure why you think tyvex suits breathe?
          Gortex breathes but not tyvex.

          1. Matt,

            Kulafarmer may be referring to Tyvex’s one way permeability to water vapor, the reason you wrap a house with it. Keeps water out, but allows water/moisture to escape to the outside. Some folks make sleeping bag covers from Tyvex for this same property.

          2. Matt
            What Dennis said,
            I do know that when spraying certain chemicals or working with certain caustics they say no tyvek suits. They are not air tight. Better than nothing, but they do breathe, we only used them as a barrier to keep our clothes clean when working in dirty conditions, but never for dangerous substances. Personally i wouldnt trust em against biologics.

          3. Well Kulafarmer is right.
            It is breathable.

            I guess I never knew even wearing them. You can’t tell from the sweat buildup.

            The suits are rated for different things like chemicals, blood borne pathogens etc.
            it is advised to use the sealed ones with contained air supply for viruses by the CDC. I can tell you in Africa that ain’t happening. Nor is it being planned for here.
            Our law enforcement is using standard stuff for blood, labs etc.
            And it sure ain’t in my budget for sealed air. I guess you could rig a scuba tank. Dunno.
            The emergency supplies for most agencies are standard tyvex.

            My public health services infectious disease guy says regular tyvex is fine.

            The weak point is the zipper. They make covered ones for serious hazmat level stuff. The other weak point is tearing.

            In a pandemic I’m probably not gonna gently pick your body up and cradle it to the grave even if I do love you. Your body is getting real bad treated if I don’t know you. It ain’t personal.

            For my purposes of moving from point A to B, burying or treatment of the sick regular tyvex will be fine.

            I guess y’all gotta decide. For me it’s tyvex, gas mask, heavy gloves over standard latex and duct taped seals using the taught decon methods and clothing removal of the army.

            Thoughts?

          4. Matt,
            They do make special tyvek suits that are laminated with a thin PVC layer, disposable hazmat suits, ill find the link, pretty sure Amazon has em too, they are rated for a higher level of protection than the straight up suits, little more expensive but for safety well worth it bud,,,

          5. Matt, Amazon has em, are called Tychem suit
            I do know they have a much higher rating as far as PPE for biological and chemical protection, have booties and gloves as well and work with the full face mask gas masks, i would want a hood personally, but im a nut and germophobe,,,
            I posted liknk but you know the moderation drill

          6. Yeah man I had stated footed and hooded.
            The footed is very thin though. You will need rubber boots if traveling any distances or on rough terrain.
            I’m still trying to figure out how to afford multiple rubber boots or overshoes for everyone. Some things can be decontaminated but others require destruction.
            Can’t be buying multiple muck boots at $30 a pop for a team.

            I carry mine on my truck and know that the walk home will contaminate enough I’ll probably have to lose them depending on what pandemic IT is.

            Anyone got affordable ideas?

          7. Matt from OK are you planning for a virus outbreak or NBC?

            Speaking as a Hospital person who is on the HAZMAT team:

            Your Plain Tyvex suit up as described would work fine for viruses and such nasty’s. We use Tyvex suits for serious hospital decontaminate of a nasty bug after patient leaves room. We use M95’s and some M100’s masks as well as goggles and hoods-booties.

            Known Ebola would probably be treated as HAZMAT and not allowed in our hospital but contained in our HOT zone until processed into a higher level hospital (IF any would be crazy enough to accept them).

            For HAZMAT we have powered overpressure air filters, laminated water proof non-breathable Tyvex hooded suits and booties. Duct tape, two pairs of gloves as so when you remove the outer ones INVERTING them you have lighter protective gloves to assist decontamination and clothing exchange.

            Most of our Patient decontamination is hot zone strip down, hose off, then shower with soap and then recheck. All drainage goes into special drain into HAZMAT tank for later Governmental removal. Most go back through shower second time. Long hair -beards is apt to be gone before you get past the shower checks.

            Speaking as a NBC NCO for several years:

            Your described Tyvex suit up would work well for Radiation at least for dust given decontaminate before entering radiation shelter. Most minor chemicals pretty well. Serious chemical weapons well….

            When I started up this thread I was working on an Virus “New Spanish Flu” epidemic and giving basic suggestions and thoughts about limiting the damage to your family while giving honorable supporting treatment to see if they can recover.

            Not everybody will survive such events but we can limit exposure and RE-exposure while giving medical aid.

          8. Sorry Matt missed the boots query. For NBC no cheap answer. As you well know US Military NBC boots-gear assumes full resupply of all equipment after you process through Hot zone and decontamination. Our Tax dollars at work.

            For viruses and such simple rain boots and duct tape will work until they crack. Wal-Mart sells them for about 10.00.

            What level of mobility are you looking for? If I were hiking home after Martial Law stops me from driving (Escape and Evasion situation) I want good hiking boots, normal clothing as not to draw attention and simply avoid contact with anybody until home.

            THEN strip down to outside hose off (WATCH Drainage issues!) outside shower with soap, put on your Tyvex uniform and sort all my gear that can be washed is bagged, that not burn barrel.

            The I would go into 14 day medical isolation unless a shooting level emergency occurs. All to prevent bringing that nasty “New Spanish Flu” into my homestead.

            Hope this makes sense.

          9. Me2
            22 mile hike from job and possibly more depending.
            Muck boots for spring/summer due to higher water and ticks cause if I gotta leave the road it’s gunna be tough.
            Winter/fall my waterproof rubber lower hunting boots that are always with me.
            I carry a tyvex, duct tape, rubber gloves in my mask carrier.
            My camelback has the nbc adapter.
            The white will have to go under clothing. I’ll lose everything at home.
            Camper for isolation.

          10. Matt,
            That guy at JRS used to sell the gloves, overboots and mop hoods for the Israely masks pretty cheap, not sure any more, he had mil spec carbon mop suits too, i worried about that stuff before, not so much anymore, i have the gear though, have gottent to that point where those around me arent thinking about self preservation or taking any responsible actions toward preparedness because their rose colored glasses might get smudged so i figure why bother,

          11. Matt in OK, I’m speaking here with absolutely no knowledge, and probably misunderstanding what is needed, but what about simple plastic grocery bags? Easily acquired, usually with no holes until they’ve been used a few times, and can be stripped off and discarded once you’re outside the danger zone. Use one outside the boot and one inside if necessary.

          12. Kulafarmer
            I spent 20 in them things. They have shortfalls.

            I’m worried bout my family and team only.
            I do so because they do the same for me.
            It’s nothing for them to show up and give me an antenna, tools, holsters etc.

            I’ve found just a very few who I’m blessed to be around.
            I wish everyone could buy it sure is hard.

  21. – When we lived in Louisiana, the house had a carport out front and a privacy fence around the back. Cleanup was a garden hose shower in the back yard, enter through the utility room with dirty clothes for the washer; get dressed in old scrubs in the utility room and then in to say hello to DW and kids. Biggest issue was all the homes were two story, so privacy for shower was a little bit lacking. Military housing, so not a lot to do about it. Just had to grin and ‘bare’ it.
    – Papa S.

    1. – Not entirely true; a bamboo curtain and a couple of post to support it was “yard décor” and did give some privacy. Still pretty minimal.
      – Papa

  22. Wow! Many great responses to my question posed out there.

    The last number of responses are enough to create a stand-alone article on steps to prevent contamination within our homes during times of widespread illness out there.

    It appears obvious that many have given this topic some serious thought lately.

    1. Calirefugee when Ken made an article about my Plan B Olive barrel from my comments posted on the open discussion list some time go. I must assume that when he changed MSB’s format that ability for Ken to cut and paste and add some of his comments went away?

      I’m not computer techie enough to cut and paste from this series of interesting comments into say a Word program as to forward to Ken for a Guest Article. Anybody feeling technical here?

      Anyway on the Positive Viewpoint I looked up the time frame that Flu virus can survive outside the host human. From public health sources the REASON they do not disinfect Schools because of an Flu outbreak (Gee I THOUGHT they DID) is that flu virus dies off overnight outside of a host.

      So Matt from OK, for Viruses simple soap and water plus time equals your equipment can be reused. Bacteria sorry to say has variable timeframes outside the human host. Most can survive for MONTHS. Thus soap and water, bleach or such and for items that cannot be bleached Sun Light exposure is best for a day plus. Your Boots can be cleaned friend unless you think NBC was involved.

      My plan for the temporary Medical Isolation plastic and PVC support systems is a hose down both sides with soapy water, rinse and sunshine both sides for a day each. I’m NOT the US Army I cannot replace all that material that maybe useful later. BTW If you friction fit the PVC you can salvage it later for other projects. I’d run some dilute bleach water through it though.

      Happily Ebola is a virus which BTW seems to explain how of you don’t touch and kiss the recently dead it doesn’t run rampant. An example was in the USA those Ebola suspected positives that were FLOWN here in a public airline and then placed in their apartments or hotels (Yeah really happened…) YET we did not have a massive Ebola outbreak in TX from such stupidity.

      Sometimes it good to be LUCKY eh?

  23. Lauren
    It would be better than nothing but the stickers and everything else rough or sharp isn’t gonna having those bags lasting very long.
    Like me I’ve got a minimum of 22 miles walking if vehicle traffic is down. I’m not sure of what pandemic would cause that but it’s possible if I got stuck on the X at work and took too long getting off of it heading home and things got locked down.
    I know some folks here travel for a living one even stated to China. How do you plan for that?

    1. Matt in OK could I suggest you add a folding bicycle to your truck? 22 miles plus can be a two day Hike if things get spicy and but a few hours on a bicycle. I’ve walked mine through many a blackberry goat path and under or over fences. The VC in Vietnam managed to use them for troop transport (as well as walking beside heavy pack mule type use) despite being forced to use goat trails and US aircraft attacks.

      Citizen sells a good one and with the Muffin Tire upgrade you never will have a flat tire.

      1. me2 –

        I’ve been looking at folding bikes for some time, since I will be starting to travel (via car/truck) more miles from home than I have been for a while. I have a couple of standard bikes for use here, but they don’t fold.

        Which model do you have? Presumably good for off-road, hilly, travel, but not necessarily a jumping off rocks mountain bike type?

        Thanks!

        1. FinallyOuttaCA, Citizen Miami folding bike with muffin airless tire upgrade. 20 inch tires, solid 6 speed bicycle. I added a bike rack and have a backpack that works as a bike pannier for it.

          Not as fast as my big bicycle but far better than my boots :-)

          And to keep this on subject getting home before you get arrested for breaking Martial Law Quarantine or such seem a good idea.

          Plus they clean up easy for decontamination needs. Just oil the chain and gears afterwards.

      2. That’s a good suggestion but it ain’t for me.
        I’m Army. I can’t fight from a bike. I’ll stay on my feet. 22 is a hard day and more like 2 if I’m being cautious. It’s very doable though.

        1. Matt from OK can’t fight from a bike? Don’t tell that to the SAS or paratroopers. Just like foot patrol you drop off the bike and get busy instead of falling to the prone. I’ve trained with a British unit that showed me that drill complete with Biathlon style shooting drills. Now I know why they wear elbow and knee pads.

          Mobility might allow you to flee from a situation to get home. With a puff or two of bear spray I can even outrun dogs with out telling the whole neighborhood I have fired off a G U N. Alone I am trying to stay quiet AND get home before all *ell Breaks Loose.

          Walking home when your family needs you home ASAP? Yes I may have to drop the bike before I get home but no bike to me is like no jacket. You might need one.

          Please give a little more thought. Even later that bike and a trailer might be pretty useful hauling stuff. I used mine today as a mini-tractor hauling bags of soil and stuff around my hilly homestead. Saves my back and keeps me in shape.

          Don’t go cheap 400 dollars buys a nice run flat tires long lasting bike. A pannier can carry a concealed holster with pretty easy draw and conceal some body armor? I’ve spent more on other toys eh?

          1. I watched a few get shot off bikes in the Balkans. The hill snipers were unforgiving. They would shoot holes thru buildings with tanks to open lanes. Veteran can tell you.
            I’m good. It’s not for me.

            Not saying it’s not valid. Just saying mentality it’s not for me. Also my chosen foot path doesn’t allow for it. I don’t want to carry it across obstacles. The road is probably going to be way to dangerous.

  24. I can’t believe I’m the first commentator since the COVID19 epidemic. There’s very real censorship of the extreme nature of this virus on YT and other platforms. I think the time is officially here to begin plans for a self quarantine of yourself and loved ones.
    The stadium is nearly half full of water.

    1. I really think most were reading and commenting on the most recent “Pandemic” specific articles. 5 on the home page, if you’re interested in looking. Lots of preparation and discussion going on, just not on a 6 month old article.

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