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Online Discussion: Tracking new emerging diseases and the next pandemic; Now tracking the Aussie Flu.

SHTF - The Pandemic Experience

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bruss01 View Drop Down
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    Posted: March 17 2006 at 9:40am

This thread is going to be an account of our experiment into what a pandemic flu quarantine might feel like.  We will be using a fictional context, but we will be undergoing an actual pandemic experience - at least, the best we can simulate under current conditions.

My wife and I are planning to quarantine ourselves just as we would if a pandemic occured suddenly, right now, with the preps we have on hand.  Some of the fictional bits may sound contrived, and if so please realize that it was done in order to give us justification to test in 2 days some aspects of our preps that we would not normally need in the 1st 2 days.

Fictional bits will be in normal type like this, and our actual experiences will be in highlighted text like this.

If you have comments to this thread, please post them in the "Pandemic Experience Comments" thread for the sake of those who want to read this thread in it's uninterrupted form.  I will be beginning the fictional context this morning, but after 5 pm today we will be blacked out until 5 pm Sunday, when I will be posting the conclusion of our experiment.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bruss01 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 17 2006 at 12:10pm

Day one 9am

I'm getting nervous about this whole avian flu thing.  Not a day goes by it seems that there isn't some new country with infected birds, weasels, cats or some such.  Ha, "Rabid Weasels".  No Ernie, it's not "rabid weasels" in the bags.  Just got a little case of the Avian Flu is all.  Reports of thousands of people coming down sick with some "mystery illness" in 3rd world countries, where they KNOW the avian flu exists.  Nothing from the WHO in days, Avian Flu broadcast specials that are announced by major networks which are subsequently cancelled and written off as though they were never scheduled, nada.  The same week as major new encouragements from the Gov. to stock up (even if it was lame tuna and powdered milk advice). H2H already in the outlying areas?  Very suspicious.  To top it all off, this morning on the way to work I heard on the radio that they found a black guy dead in the San Francisco airport yesterday with what look like respiratory problems. Just got off a plane from Dallas, they said.  We don't even have any cases of infected poultry here in the US, so odds of it being Avian Flu are next to nill.  But that would be a worst case scenario, wouldn't it?  H2H BF in a major international airport, what a mess that would be.  Gotta remember to stock up some more this weekend, get some  more of our preps in "ready" condition.

Day one 10am

Just walked into the break room for coffee, there were a cluster of folks huddled around the little tv we keep in there. CNN was on (as usual) but they were babbling something about this guy they found in the SF airport yesterday.  Seems he wasn't a black guy - he was middle-eastern BUT SO CYANOTIC BLUE THEY INITIALLY THOUGHT HE WAS BLACK!  Before Dallas, he changed planes at the hub in chicago and before that he changed planes in New York, after getting off a flight from London.  They're saying he might have had Avian flu!  Telling people not to panic, you can only get it from prolonged contact with infected poultry.  Wow.  This is just a sample of what we'd have to look forward to if it ever went H2H. Scary sh*t.

Day one 10:30

Been covertly surfing at work all day, trying to keep on top of the news.  WHO says the guy at the SF airport tested negative for Avian Flu.  Good news.  Definitely spending this weekend finishing up the preps.  Close call.

Day one 11 am

OMG.  Unconfirmed reports that the paramedics that handled the SF airport guy have been hospitalized with acute respiratory problems.  WTF?  Healthy to hospital in 12 hours?  That can't be right. Damn internet hype. Wish I could get some REAL information.

Day one 12 noon

CDC just broadcast a warning saying hospitals in New York are being flooded with folks in respiratory distress. Most of them are folks from the London-New York flight with our mystery man aboard. Saying don't panic, but if you were on the flight go see your Dr. right away!!  OMG!  WHO IS STILL NOT ANNOUNCING H2H!!!  WHAT ELSE COULD IT POSSIBLY BE BUT THE START OF THE H2H PANDEMIC. 

I don't care what they say... I'm officially panicing.

Day one 1:30 pm

This is WEIRD... all the internet news articles from this morning about the NY outbreak and the SF paramedics are gone.  Vanished.  CNN is back to covering the situation in Iraq, congress raising the national debt ceiling (again), and a new batch of twisters in the heartland.  WTF?  Was I just seeing things, letting my active imagination take over?  Or is this a news blackout, imposed by the powers that be?  I'm getting a really bad feeling... wish I could get out of here early today, but there's a high profile meeting this afternoon that I don't dare miss.  I have that "ants in the pants" feeling that I need to be doing something... but can't quite decide what.

Day one 3:45 pm

Couldn't get out of that meeting fast enough.  Grabbed my coat and hit the door first chance I got.  Got into the car and turned on the radio to the news station.  Immediately there were reports of outbreaks in NY, Chicago and Dallas.  Said public health officials were quarantining anyone who was on the flights with Patient Zero, and their families and anyone they had contact with.  The were urging you, if you had contact with any of these people, to call and report it to your public health dept.  I just sat there in the parking lot with my jaw hanging open for a good 5 minutes taking this all in.  Suddenly the news gets interrupted for a special announcement from Mike Leavitt, H&HS secretary.  Said despite the WHO repeated assurances that this is NOT H2H avian flu, he thinks we should treat it that way anyhow, that people should voluntarily quarantine themselves at home over this weekend to give public health officials, CDC and the WHO time to catch up with emerging developments.  I can feel the roots of my hair turning white, the nape of my neck tingling... OMG, THIS IS IT.  He urged people to have some basic supplies on hand and not go out this weekend, and to anticipate that it might be a good idea to hole up (take some "family leave" time or vacation time) next week just to be on the safe side. He repeated not to panic, all reasonable and prudent actions were being taken.

THIS IS IT -  THE BALLOON HAS GONE UP!

I hit Costco for gas.  It's only 2 blocks from where I work, so it was a logical first stop. The usual Friday afternoon line was there maybe a couple more than usual. Some people looked tense, some were filling up gas containers.  The guy in front of me didn't seem worried.  I asked him if he'd heard the news as he was putting the nozzle into his car. He said no, so I told him to turn on his radio - he asked what channel, and I said "dude, like on 9-11, it doesn't matter what channel".  He gave me an odd look and got into his car. When the pump clicked off he got out of the car, his face ashen. I could tell he appreciated the gravity of the situation. My turn next and I filled it up, just sorry I didn't have any empty gas cans with me.  No time to worry about that just now, fortunately I already have 80 gallons at home.

Went to my usual entrance ramp onto the freeway - whoa nellie!  What a back up!  Nothing but a parking lot. Turned on the radio again to see what was going on, but WTF?  Now they're back to stock market reports and agri-business, nothing about the crisis?  Decided to take the overland route, Expo to Howe, then north to Marconi major streets.  Once I got onto Expo, I finally heard a traffic report saying the freeway was backed up due to a big crash & burn accident, multiple fatalities, emergency crews at the scene, all 4 lanes blocked.  Too bad. Hope it wasn't some poor sap worried out of his mind about the pandemic, in a hurry to get home or beat everyone else to the store for the food he should've bought weeks ago... Can't think about that now, got my own problems at the moment.

When I pulled up to the light at Howe, there was one car in front of me.  Just before the light changed, a couple of guys started walking across the street from the left.  They walked right up to the door of the car in front of me, yanked the drivers door open and pulled the guy out from behind the wheel.  They shoved him and he fell down on the pavement in the median, then jumped into his car and took off just as the light changed, cutting across 3 lanes of traffic swerving southbound onto Howe.  I'm in the left turn only lane, and traffic is starting to move now, so I'm stuck.  The guy looks pissed as all hell, but otherwise OK. I make the left and thank my lucky stars I always drive with the doors locked.  I glance down and notice I've forgotten to lock the doors.  D'oh.  I lock them. Then I call 911 to report the car.  I didn't get a license number but I have a fairly good description.  First time I dial there's a busy signal.  Second time I get a "please hold, all lines are busy" recording.  I'm hoping someone else is calling it in, but part of me knows that everybody has bigger fish to fry right now.  Except maybe the pissed off guy standing in the median, brushing road grit off his clothes.  I saw another one happen in the lanes off to the right when I stopped at the light at El Camino.  WTF?  Did somebody declare this open season carjacking day?  This time it was just one guy, but he had a gun. Wish I had one with me, but there's no CCW allowed here. Damn... either I'm lucky or I look like I'd be too much trouble.  Nah, I'm flattering myself.  Just lucky and beating the odds so far.  Got a pocket knife but that's no defense against a guy with a gun.  I'm feeling a surreal sensation, probably adrenaline rush, giddy and hopped up. I've never seen a violent crime up close and personal, but that's two in the past half hour.  A touch of paranoia is setting in, I'm watching all directions like a hawk with my head on a swivel.  I'll admit to myself later that I'm pretty scared.  Right now that's a luxury I can't afford.

Expo and Howe are all right, but Marconi is a mess.  This isn't just friday night rush hour... then I remembered the grocery store at Watt avenue, a Raleys.  Now that I think of it, there's an Albertson's too.  Those are going to be a madhouse, too many folks rushing for the things they should already have.  Gotta put myself in that category... I thought I'd be ahead of the masses, keeping my ear to the ground the way I do... figured I'd have at least 48 hours advance notice.  It shouldn't be happening this damn fast!! Lucky we have most of what we need already laid in.  Robertson is a side street that paralells Marconi, it was pretty clear except for a few others using it as an alternate like me.  Stop signs every two blocks, there was a 3-4 car backup at each one, but way better than Marconi.  That parking lot was going nowhere.  I can see now there's no point in trying to hit a store at this point - you'd probably have to park 3 blocks from Walmart and hike in at this late stage of things.  I'd hate to be working there.

Day one 5:00 pm


 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bruss01 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 17 2006 at 3:29pm

Day one 5:00 PM

I tried to call her a couple times earlier, but I know my wife never carries her phone while working.  Now she's calling me.  She's just off work, heard a couple of odd rumors but the bookstore has been pretty dead all day.  WTF's up with traffic? she asks.  I told her to turn on the radio... she does, but there's nothing on again, just like earlier, just regular news, weather and sports.  I tell her to lock her car doors and she says "They are... oops, well they are now, why?"  I tell her about the two carjackings I've seen and what was on the news earlier.  Traffic is a mess where she's at, so I tell her to get the city street map out and figure a way home using side streets.  That'll take her an hour instead of the 20 minutes it usually takes, but it's safer and probably the quickest way anyhow.  I beg her to be careful, forget stopping at any of the stores, stay off the phone but call me if she runs into trouble, and I'll do the same.  I'm within 5 minutes of being home now anyway.

Day one 5:15

Just got home.  The last few blocks were rough, too close to the corner of Walnut and Marconi.  There's a shopping complex there and it was completely over-run from what I could see a block away.  Walnut is basically gridlocked, I had to go 3 blocks further north to find a place I could squeeze across.  Then came down Garfield on the other side. We're not on a main street, in fact we're down at the end of a dead end street only 3 blocks long, with a cul-de-sac on each end and only one connecting street. But we're not far from the action.  Seemed ideal when we moved in... now it seems a tad... well, vulnerable.  There's a big apartment complex on the back side of us which occasionally gets noisy, but most times is calm enough.  The modest fenced back yard was a big selling point, seeing as how we have dogs. Speaking of Dogs, they were happy to see me get home, as always.  I turned on the TV first thing.  The local news was covering the "panic" buying at most local retail stores.  It was unbelievable, some of the shots were from news copters and you could see streets gridlocked literally for blocks in every direction.  There was no crowd control, people were literally thronging the stores, and I watched as a couple of people who came out with huge heaping shopping carts were jumped by other desperate people who sped away with the preps the shopper had just purchased.  There were comments by the newscaster that the Governor was issuing an emergency order for all state and federal law enforcement, rescue and fire personnel who are not on duty to report to the nearest police station for assignment.

Wow.  Glad I'm home.  Still worried about the Mrs. but I know it'll be at least half an hour before she gets home.

Turned the TV up loud so I could hear it while I went to the back porch to fill up the water barrels.  Crap, they still smell like malt vinegar, probably what was once stored in them.  I haul one out on the back porch to rinse it out with the hose.  I got the water going good, then I overhear the TV saying something about "Homeland Security" so I dash back inside.  Lo and behold, about the same time I come in thru the back my wife comes in the front and we converge in the living room together just as the TV says "... Chertoff, secretary of Homeland Security."  He takes the microphone and states that earlier announcements by health officials were premature, there is no avian flu outbreak, repeat, no avian flu outbreak, and that previous announcements by Mike Leavitt were unauthorized and misleading.  Mr. Leavitt has been dismissed from his post by the President.  Various irresponsible journalists have issued misleading and exagerated reports thru the media of a similar nature. Due to the unfounded and widespread panic caused by these unwarranted and mistaken announcements, it was going to be necessary to invoke emergency powers to restore order.  All public retail establishments will be closed immediately, and residents will be instructed to return to their homes until public safety can be assured.  After apropriate security measures have been put in place, he instructs, citizens will be advised on when it is safe to resume their normal routines. A reporter asks "So is this martial law being declared?"  No, Chertoff replies, this is just a precautionary measure to restore general safety.  We are asking for voluntary compliance, but in areas where vandalism and crime are occuring due to the unwarranted panic, local officials may have to take a stronger stance. Another reporter started to ask a question but we never heard it.

Because at that moment, the power went out.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote bruss01 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 18 2006 at 7:09am

Hey, I'm sorry to have to do this, folks, but the "Pandemic Experience" is being postponed 1 week due to technical difficulties.  It will take place next weekend.  Sorry for the false start.

Details here:

http://www.superflutalk.com/forum_posts.asp?TID=3794&PN= 1&TPN=1

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