Coronavirus Emergency

Today, March 16, 2020, here in Switzerland the federal executive branch, the Federal Council, announced an “extraordinary situation” in Switzerland. This means starting tomorrow and provisionally set to end on April 19, only essential stores will be open. Schools are closed. Border checks between Switzerland and France, Austria, and Germany are to be introduced – only citizens, residents (such as us), and folks with a business purpose are allowed in. This is in addition to the existing border checks on the Italian side of the border, which has existed for some time now.

Switzerland is a member of Schengen and has been subject to Trump’s “EU” travel ban, but that ban is not in effect for US citizens. So it seems like Jessica and I are still able to freely move between Switzerland and the US. For now.

Also noteworthy, the Swiss government is pledging 10 billion CHF (roughly the same in USD) to help keep the economy afloat. This is on top of the robust healthcare system that Switzerland has, as every person has mandatory – but private – health insurance that covers illnesses. So people here do not seem to be panicking nearly as much as the US: they’re not worrying about missing a paycheck, nor whether a costly medical bill will crater their savings (if it exists, and if they have insurance), nor worrying about whether to go to a doctor (if they don’t have health insurance). Here, I work from home, open my window, and hear the kids playing outside because school’s out. That’s a little indicator for me: I figure the numerous families around here are calm enough to let their kids play outside, with each other.

The Unfolding

Once the virus hit Japan, and later Italy, Jessica and I were of the opinion that this was going to eventually pass over the whole world. Unfortunately, the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions are most at risk, and so we’ve been somewhat cognizant of our behavior and where we go. Because we don’t want to endanger others.

For example, last week was an optional work-from-home week. I took it, because our Google office, which has had a confirmed case, is right next to a series of buildings explicitly for senior citizens. We cancelled our skiing trip this past weekend, which would have been the last opportunity for the season. Neither of us have the virus, and Helix is healthy, but it doesn’t hurt to remove ourselves as a possible chain to begin with.

Helix staying healthy

We also didn’t want to contribute panic. Last week and this week, we’ve been doing our normal near-daily grocery shopping, and taking a couple extra easy meals each trip. Nothing close to a Costco run. We didn’t want to strain the logistics system of the stores. So each time, we’d pick up something longer-lasting, like an extra bag of flour or a couple packs of ramen.

Comments on the USA

I’ve heard of the ridiculous hoarding in the USA from friends and family. It’s amazing how much “look out for myself” mentality leads to smaller and larger societal breakdowns. For example: a person stealing masks from their workplace. I heard from the grapevine that there is a bank in Charlotte, who will remain unnamed, that at night set out 1 travel-sized bottle of hand sanitizer on every employee’s desk for them to find in the morning, but someone later that night went to every desk and stole them, so only one employee is now very “healthy”. Or Matt Colvin of Chattanooga, Tennessee who literally couldn’t believe that the magical shelves in stores would have trouble re-stocking.

During the rampage of this panic, people will get to really know themselves and whether they believe “Screw others, I will only look out for Number One: Me,” or “This is an indiscriminate infectious disease, we’re all in this together, let’s come together and help each other through this”.

After the rampage of the panic, as people reflect on what happened, once again we will see who thinks “I just went through shit, lots of people died, you ungrateful kids should have to go through it too, so toughen up,” as opposed to “I just went through shit, lots of people died, and I don’t want this to happen to myself or my neighbors ever again. Maybe it is time to reform healthcare in America.”

Our Preparations

So what am I doing with my both private and socialized medicine? Not worrying, working from home, doing some existing work in the garden, and using it as an opportunity to learn new skills. While respectfully minimizing my time out in public, but still getting outdoors.

On the Fediverse, some folks shared a recipe for making bread from scratch. Well, I made my first loaf from scratch and everything!

My first loaf of bread.

I’ve also been germinating 162 seedlings. This time it is corn, bell pepper plants, and – this is a new one – red cabbage!

Corn and red cabbage seedlings.

I’ve begun transferring the corn plants to the field and will continue to plant more.

What’s cool to see is that a lot of the garlic I thought “gone” or “dead” from last year must’ve just waited for the winter to come and go, because now the patch I planted last year is now full of hearty garlic shoots! On top of that, about 8 of the 10 artichoke plants survived the very-mild winter, so we will see if they produce anything this year.

Finally, I have a sack of potato tubulars I need to plant. But I’m awaiting a composting box plus compost starter to arrive. I need to move some organic material that is sitting on the potato plot of land, into the compost. The coronavirus epidemic was a nice reminder for us to cut down on our waste and use more of what we already have.

Weathering The Storm

It’s my sincere hope that people really question their selfish mentality, or if a trust-less society and its breakdown is what they indeed want. I think we as a society has a weird fetish of apocalyptic events reflected in our Hollywood movies (cue the-worst-villain-with-the-dumbest-plan Thanos’ finger-snap), which means everyone thinks of themselves as The Hero that needs that 500th bottle of hand sanitizer.

Really, hand sanitizer? Let me get this straight, if you think you have the virus particulate on your hands, you’re going to get a dab of hand sanitizer, rub your hands together, smearing virus particulates all over them, without knowing whether that the sanitizing chemical actually neutralizes those infectious particulate? Is “I will do anything but wash my hands” some new hip game?

Seriously, buy some simple soap and take the time to scrub your hands. At the very minimum, you’re knocking the virus particulates off your hands and sending them down the drain. If you don’t have soap, scrub your hands harder. Soap simply helps “carry” the particulate matter away from your skin, where the flowing water can simply carry it away.

People don’t use their brains. Use yours.


Created: Mar 16, 2020 18:19:57 EDT
Last Updated: Mar 16, 2020 18:26:33 EDT
By: Cory Slep

Fediverse Comments

@cjslep In this blog post I:

- Go over the recent Swiss Federal Council decision from a few hours ago.
- Go over the stuff I've heard happening catching up back on how the USA is doing
- Go over some stuff we are doing to prepare
- Asking people to wash their hands and use their noggin'


Commented on: Mar 16, 2020 22:37:46 UTC
By: https://mastodon.technology/users/cj

@cj @cjslep re USA, somehow I am not surprised at all after seeing so many zombie and other apocalypse movies, with the hero being a sole survivor — we have been trained for this.


Commented on: Mar 16, 2020 23:21:21 UTC
By: https://mastodon.technology/users/deshipu

@cj @cjslep "Soap simply helps “carry” the particulate matter away from your skin, where the flowing water can simply carry it away." — that is not how it works. Soap is actually especially effective against this particular virus, because it dissolves the lipid membrane the payload of the virus is surrounded with. Which most hand sanitizers don't do. So soap is actually much better for this. Also all other detergents, like laundry or dishwashing liquids.


Commented on: Mar 16, 2020 23:32:00 UTC
By: https://mastodon.technology/users/deshipu