Intelligence analyst Sam Culper of Forward Observer has a few thoughts relating to coronavirus and what you might think of related to your area study.
News from China over the weekend shows that 760 million people are on some form of lock down or quarantine as the government tries to contain the spread of Coronavirus. That’s three quarters of a billion people.
In other words, over half the entire country is being told when they can leave their homes and for how long.
Last night, my wife and I started watching a documentary series on Netflix called Pandemic, in which American pathologists repeatedly say that we’re not prepared for a pandemic in America.
Pathologists continually say that it’s not a matter of “if” but a matter of when.
Most striking to me was when a physician warned that a slight mutation that resulted in a novel strain of highly lethal influenza, swine flu, or avian flu could end up killing millions of people.
My thoughts then went to second- and third-order effects:
What happens if a virus affects farm workers?
What happens if food delivery stops?
What happens if large cities or rural areas are quarantined?
What happens if pathologists discover that the virus can be or is being spread through the pipes carrying our drinking water?
And that brings my thoughts to my own level of preparedness, and specifically to my Area Study.
We build an Area Study so we can better understand our neighborhoods, who lives there, what fault lines it has, where we’re vulnerable, and what conditions could develop during an emergency.
For those of you building an Area Study, here are some pandemic considerations:
1. What medical facilities nearest to me will handle patients infected by a pandemic disease or virus?
2. How well staffed and supplied are those hospitals? In other words, how many patients can the facility house and treat, and how long can they respond before they encounter constraints on resources? (One of the limiting factors in China is that some areas have run out of Coronavirus test kits.)
3. Every county in America should have an emergency operations action plan. Have they considered a pandemic and what are their plans to respond to one? (Ask your local county officials where you can find the county’s emergency action plan. Or start with an online search: “[My County] Emergency Action Plan” I found my county’s plan via the web.) What facilities in the area might be used to treat patients that can’t fit in the hospital?
4. What are the second- and third-order effects of a pandemic? How long can my neighborhood/area function if placed under quarantined? If the virus isn’t in my area, how can I know if people are escaping the quarantine in surrounding areas (as has happened in China)? Will an outbreak or quarantine cause a mass migration? If so, how will that affect me?
I’ll be doing some research into how we can add a pandemic annex to our Area Study and what information should go into it.
In the meantime, if you have any specific considerations that you’d like to share, please let me know. You can add a comment to this post and I can include your input when I send out the next email on pandemic preparedness.
Forward Observer: An Introduction to the Area Study
Forward Observer: Area Study Part II