COVID-19 Needs Action -> Decide Where You Wanna Be, And Go There Now
I wasn’t expecting to write another post about COVID-19 today, but I have to admit this last week in Europe has accelerated things, and it’s prompted me to have some serious thoughts.
As you know we made the decision just over two weeks ago (when I first wrote about the new coronavirus) to stay here in France, together with dad. At the time I wasn’t entirely sure if we were being pro-active, or over-reacting, but I did feel that the virus was already past containment, spreading fast, and that restrictions/controls would likely come quite quickly behind it. It just made sense for us to stay put, and see how it that all panned out.
But WOW, I sorely underestimated exactly how quickly all this would escalate….
Europe today is a very different place from two weeks ago, and I think the US is mere weeks away from the same thing. I am not saying this to cause panic, but to inform and spread the message, so that we can all prepare ourselves for what I now think is inevitable.
Lock-downs are coming, so if you’re a traveler it’s time to make a decision. You need to decide where you want to be during this turbulent time, go there now & then plan to stay for a while. This is not only important because of travel restrictions that may limit your ability to move around in the near future, but also because we ALL need to try and minimize our interactions in order to attempt to slow this thing down, and give our healthcare services a chance to cope.
Hopefully by the time you finish reading this blog post you’ll feel the same way.
NOTE/ What I’m writing about today is nothing new and has already been shared by various blogs, articles & scientists over the past week. If you want a sobering, in-depth analysis this post Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now, is a very good reference.
This Past Week Has Seen Dramatic Changes in Europe
This past week has seen a massive jump in infection numbers all across Europe, with confirmed cases doubling every 3-5 days (depending on the country). In conjunction with that we’ve seen a massive increase in restrictions.
In 23 countries schools & universities have now been closed entirely, gatherings of large groups have been banned, and bars & restaurants have been closed (or have limited hours). In many places visits to retirements homes are now banned, non-essential travel has been discouraged, and folks are being asked to work from home as much as possible.
The last set of restrictions to hit are border closures and they’ve only just started, but they’re coming fast. Within Europe Italy, Denmark, Poland & Czech Republic are now completely closed, with other countries likely to follow suit very soon. If the virus continues its current trajectory, I would not be surprised to see complete border closures all across EU within a week.
More Info: How do coronavirus containment measures vary across Europe?
Why All The Fuss?
You might wonder what all the fuss is about. I mean, from the info that has been published over 80% of people who get this thing will only exhibit mild symptoms, and ~99% of young people who get it will recover. So, isn’t the world over-reacting just a bit?
Well, this is where numbers and statistics come into it.
The thing that makes COVID-19 such a big deal is that it’s spreading rapidly & freely (there’s no vaccine, no herd immunity), it has a non-insignificant death rate (3.4% globally if we take the most recent info from WHO, or anywhere from 0.6-6% if we look at individual statistics by country), and for confirmed cases, anywhere from 5-15% will require hospitalization with 1-2% requiring specialized intensive care (ICU)*.
Those numbers may not mean much at first glance but if you plug them into a country population like the USA, you are potentially looking at up to millions of critical patients all hitting hospitals in a short period of time. There are simply not enough beds, doctors or critical medical equipment (e.g. ventilators) to handle something like that. And THAT is the crux of the matter.
This is not just about another virus spreading, or the fact that most people that get it will be fine. It’s about the folks who will not be fine, those who will need hospitalization, and the fact that if we don’t slow down the infection rate now, our healthcare systems will not be able to cope with that many cases at once.
*NOTE/ The percentages for death rates, hospitalization & ICU can have wide estimates, depending on what data-source, paper or model you look at. A big part of the problem is that testing hasn’t kept up, so we don’t know exactly how many cases are really out there (there might be many more than reported, for example, or many who never show significant symptoms), which in turn means we can’t exactly predict the hospitalization numbers. However even with conservative percentages based on what we DO know, the numbers over the short term look significant.
We’ve Already Seen What An Overwhelmed System Looks Like
Sadly, we’ve already seen what an overwhelmed healthcare system looks like in Europe.
Northern Italy was one of the first-hit locations in Europe, and things escalated there much faster there than anyone imagined. Over a period of only ~3 weeks, the confirmed case numbers sky-rocketed from just a few hundred to thousands and then tens of thousands. The first hospital admissions came soon after, with patients needing critical care much faster and in much larger numbers than the system could possibly handle.
Simply put, hospitals became overloaded, and it’s put the country under enormous strain.
There are reports of sick patients being turned away, doctors forced to triage who gets treatment (and who does not), lack of equipment and basic medical resources, and exhausted healthcare workers being pushed to the brink. These are first-hand reports from people on the ground, and it’s truly a heart-breaking picture.
The situation in Italy has likely been exasperated by the fact that they have a large, older population (this virus impacts older people harder), but it’s also because not nearly enough was done to detect & slow down the virus early on. This should be a stern warning to other countries.
More Info: Italy’s Health Care System Groans Under Coronavirus — a Warning to the World
We Are All On The Italy Trajectory, Unless We Change Things
Before you say “that can’t possibly happen here” you need to look at the numbers.
In most of the rest of Europe the reported COVID-19 infection numbers started to grow just a week or two after Italy, while in US (where testing is still lagging WAY behind) things are just ramping now. If you look closely at how those cases are growing right now they are all following the Italy curve almost exactly, day for day. That means every major European country can expect to see tens of thousands of confirmed cases within weeks, with the US numbers ramping exponentially close behind.
Again, this may not seem that big of a deal. After all, viruses circulate all over the world all the time (e.g. season flu, colds etc.), and the absolute infection numbers that we’re seeing for this new coronavirus are currently only a small % of our population. But that’s also not the problem either.
The issue with COVID-19 specifically is how quickly & freely it is spreading & therefore how many people will potentially need hospitalization & critical care in a very short period of time, and those are the worrysome numbers. None of our healthcare systems are equipped to handle the forecasted influx, and they will all be overwhelmed unless we change things.
But We May Still Have The Possibility To Change Things
The one positive light in all this, is that there might still be a way to change things.
Obviously there are the basic precautions that we should all be taking anyway. Like washing our hands, keeping surfaces & clothing clean, social distancing etc.
But if we want to have any chance of slowing this virus down in any meaningful way, we need to take all that to the next level....
According to the scientists who model infectious diseases such as this, it’s possible to slow down (not stop, but slow down) the spread of a virus by imposing immediate restrictions.
The idea is simple. By limiting person-to-person interactions, we slow how fast the virus spreads, which is turn reduces infection rates, that in turn reduces the number of sick and thus the number of critical patients that hospitals have to treat at one time. As a result recovery rates improve, and lives are saved. Simple, but dramatic.
Epidemiologists and virologists call this “flattening the epidemic curve” and it can make the difference between a healthcare system that is overwhelmed and one that is able to cope.
We’ve Actually Seen What That Looks Like Too
We’ve actually seen what that looks like too, both with past viruses and even with the current COVID-19 outbreak.
In countries that implemented a high level of tracking & controls for the new coronavirus, very early on (e.g. Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan), the virus curve has been much flatter, and entirely manageable. And in South Korea, after a rocky start, they have managed to flatten their curve through massive, systematic countrywide testing and individual quarantines. These countries acted, and they acted aggressively and that has made a difference, dropping their new infection & case death rates significantly. It’s actually really encouraging news.
European countries are finally catching on to this, and that is the reason that we are suddenly seeing massive restrictions being implemented all across EU, from the closure of schools to banning of gatherings, border closures and folks being asked to work from home. It may seem extreme on the surface and some of it could be argued (for example, is the economic cost too high for some of these restrictions?) but it’s all geared towards one singular & simple goal -> slowing the virus down so that we have time to cope with it.
For Travelers, It’s Time To Make A Decision
Here we get to the crux of the matter, and why I’m writing this post today.
As RV & motorhome travelers I believe we all need to take action on this now.
If you are on the road right now my recommendation is that you decide where you want to ride this thing out, go there now, and then plan to limit your interactions for the next months as this thing plays out. If you are able to stay where you currently are, perfect. If not, then plan a direct itinerary (with minimal stops) to where you want to be, and hunker down there. Conversely if you are not on the road right now, I recommend that you stay home until the peak of this virus has passed.
I say this not to alarm, but to prompt action while there’s still time, and encourage everyone to be part of the solution.
Travel restrictions are coming whether we want them or not. At the rate this thing is spreading (and how quickly governments are now responding) I expect restrictions to come very quickly. In Europe all borders will probably close within the next week or so, while in US, federal or state-level restrictions could get imposed within the next few weeks (or more, if they stall). So, if you want to get somewhere, now is the time to do it while movement is still possible.
By limiting our travels and interactions, we limit the rate of spread of the virus. Even if we are young and healthy, we may be carriers of COVID-19 (we still don’t know the exact incubation period for this virus, or how easily it is spreads before exhibiting symptoms), so we can spread the virus without even knowing it. And even though it may only cause mild discomfort to us, it could be lethal to someone we meet. We are all part of the chain of infection, so we all need to work together to try and break that.
If we do this now, it could save lives. I honestly don’t know how much of a difference all this will make in Europe & USA. Without systematic testing it’s hard to know what the real numbers are (are we ahead of the curve? or already too late?). But the potential to save lives is real and that’s why I believe it’s critical to try nonetheless.
We’re not talking forever, just for now. As I mentioned in my last post, none of this will last forever. All viruses follow a curve, and if we do things right this can become a manageable one. IMO it’s not a big sacrifice to slow your travels down for a few months.
With a bit of luck (and yes, I’m always the eternal optimist) if we all contribute our bit to slowing this thing down over the next several months then all of this could be but a wild, crazy memory by summer. If you believe this too, then please share this message to your fellow RVers, friends & family, and encourage them all to find a place hunker down now. That way we can all be safe, we can all be part of the solution, and hopefully we can all get back to our carefree travels very soon.SPONSORED LINK:
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We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do
Patricia Neuzil says
Thank you so much for taking the time to gather information and write this.
Excellent article…similar facts stated in another article I just read.
Terry E McKnight says
Thanks for the informative update.
Barrie Bochoff says
Thanks again for sharing. The more frequently we read it the more likely we are to allow it to sink in. All the best to you, Paul and your Dad!
Thank you Barrie. We are doing OK here, although we’re having cat issues again, sadly. I’ll update our personal situation in my next post.
Brenda Hart says
As always Nina, excellent writing! We have current RVing visitors–without being rude, I want to tell them to go home to Oregon, get on the road and go. Don’t wait until you have no choice of where to be. I sent my granddaughter a link to your article–she has two young babies with respiratory issues (from premature births), is a teacher and her school in Montana hasn’t been closed yet. She was asking me what she should do. I told her to stay home with those babies, period. Thanks you Nina for writing this blog!
I really hope they start closing schools soon, even if just for 2 weeks. A temporary closure now could make all the difference. Whereas if they wait too long, they may have to take sterner measures & close for much longer. Of course we all hope it doesn’t come to that, but you never know.
Best of wishes to your grand-daughter and her babies.
I’m a retired teacher and still remember when my principal told me I was a Mother before I was a teacher and my little should always come first.
Lynne Edwards says
Thank you for taking the time to update us!
Ed Minner says
Good information and thank you!
Mary dunbar says
We are currently in Northern CA, having shifted plans 3 times so far to better practice social distancing. Our next move once the snow stops and the chain requirements lift is a friends beach house in Ocean Park WA. Plan is to spend at least next 5 months there and see how this virus plays out. Been especially concerning for us, my husband has a lung disease and the meds he takes suppress his immune system. Not how I expected full time RV life to be right now
You’ve put together a very good, and responsible plan both for yourself and everyone else. With a bit of luck you’ll be back on the road before long.
Jill L Henderson says
Fantastic post Nina, thanks for putting it together. Shared!
Alvin Chin says
This is a great article with a lot of good information and analysis of the coronavirus situation and what is unfolding worldwide.
I just love reading your articles because they are so relevant and thoughtful.
Ronald H Seitz says
Kudos to you yours and your paws for taking the time to write this, it is definitely a heads up for the USA with an Orange man in charge!
Barb Smialek says
Thank you for sharing what is happening there. We will be right behind you.
Yes Nina, thank you for taking the time to write and for your concern. And more so knowing your concerns at home during this difficult time. Your dad sure is a blessed man to have you as his daughter. We pray for you and your family to be and stay well.
Dave Burdick says
I first saw the “flattening the curve” chart from my daughter’s Facebook posting a week ago…she is a strong advocate for healthcare in Utah where she lives, and has faced traumatic brain trauma from a surfboard incident from about 5 years ago now. What you said is right on the spot. Talked to my youngest son earlier today and he and his fiance are planning to get married in mid-May…I told him that I did not think this was going to happen as they wish, and they should think about downsizing the event and offer it online via Facebook or some other venue. Here in Florida the tourist business is taking a huge hit with PGA, NBA, NCAA and other cancellations, along with Mickey Mouse shutting its doors. It will be interesting if the “Spring Break” rush of college kids still takes place…I hope not, but knowing these young people, I think they will still flock to the sunny beaches of Florida. Thanks for you post(s).
Spring Break is definitely a worry. Many of the larger Universities have already shut down, or have switched to online coursework, so hopefully the message is getting out there to the younger folk and they’ll follow that message during the upcoming break. I think many things will continue to shut down anyway. This next week will tell us a lot.
Jay Wang says
Nina and Paul, stay safe there. We also treat this very serious here in Taiwan.
Cumulative total of 67 COVID-19 cases confirmed in Taiwan; 22 patients released from isolation.
Absolutely. Taiwan has also done an excellent job of containing this. They are another role model to follow.
Abel Perez says
Thank You so much for this very informative article.
Marianne Edwards says
Thank you Nina. We’re all in this together and sharing the truth of what’s going on and what’s coming is perhaps one of the most important things we can do right now.
Linda Sand says
Thanks for being a voice of reason in this hectic time. As a severe introvert I thought self isolating would be easy for me but it has implications I had not even considered until this pandemic hit. I feel less panicked now. Thank you.
ps. Here’s another source that is helping me: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=9&v=rkQXxqLNWzo&feature=emb_title
Isolation is always difficult when forced. But we can support each other online, and through posts and interactions on the web. It’s not the same, but it helps to know that we are all in this together, and that practicing isolation right now does not mean you are being passive or panicking. It’s a deliberate ACTION that makes sense & will help us all. Keeping a sense of control is always important in times like this, and that’s exactly what you’re doing.
And I’m glad I could help you feel a little less panicked today 🙂
Elizabeth Smith says
We thought about going to the desert and isolating ourselves BUT the parks are closing. So we will stay home and try to not get on each other’s nerves. We didn’t even go to Mass today and that is not like us. But we are going to wear a mask when we go out and stay home. Best wishes in staying well to you and your family.
You bring up another (very valid) concern which is that campgrounds may close. Here in Europe we’ve already seen that. In Spain most of the campgrounds are now shut (and not accepting travelers), and it’s happening in France now too. I fear we could see the same in USA. That makes it really difficult for those already on the road, or fulltime on the road.
It’s another reason why planning ahead to where you want to be over the next few months is really critical, especially right now.
Wow. We are in the middle of a trip across country. Your well thought out and reasoned argument has us thinking we should head home. Thank you for the dose of reality.
I do think you need to think seriously about where you want to be (potentially) locked down for a few months. If home base is the easiest place to do that, it may make sense for you to head back. If you feel comfortable where you are right now, then that could work too. But I do think you should plan for a potential lock-down. The restrictions they decide to implement in the USA may not be as severe as they currently are in EU, but if they are it could really hinder travel of any kind.
Stephany Smith says
Thank you for another informative post, Nina
rita from phoenix says
I read a bloggers attachment about sun and it’s ability to heal. It was written by a doctor about the Spanish Flu back in 1918. Lots of folks recover with sun treatment meaning they were wheeled out side and exposed to sunlight…even those in hospital beds. In that article, they showed black and white pictures of rows of tents set up with patients outside their tents in fresh air and sun. I also thought the sun has it’s own healing powers if used properly. I say this because I also saw a science documentary about sun’s radiation, how it penetrates our skin and blasts cells apart….hence sun burns. If done over time, it can alter cells i.e. cancer. Now a virus cannot live/function alone. It only becomes active and replicates itself after it has enter cells…without cells, virus can’t replicate. This is why folks need to wash their hands and wipe down stuff to kill the virus before they enter your body/cell and start replicating itself. Once the virus enters your body and the cells, it starts replicating and once the immune system is over whelmed you start feeling sick or experience symptoms of sickness coming on. So essentially you’re unaware a virus has entered your body until your immune system becomes over whelmed…they say incubation period. By reading various articles I’ve learned this and that a virus is neither alive or dead but does become active once it enters a cell & starts replicating. So, while I’m still coronavirus free, I’m washing my hands thoroughly, spending time in my back yard getting fresh air and sun and opening my windows to air out my house. Also, since I’m Native American, I believe in killing bacteria and viruses by smudging my self and house with sage, juniper and other natural plants.
I have ordered viral masks on-line to wear when I need to go out. Otherwise I’m self quarantined myself to home. Since I retired, I’ve been shopping once a month stocking my freezer and pantries and also bulk shop once a month at Costco. So, that was not new to me. When I went to shop at Costco the first of March, I was shocked the toilet paper was out…even the cheaper brand that I buy. I had to wait until they restocked the store a few days later. Mind you I only bought what I normally buy once a month. But I saw literally truck loads of TP and bottle water that people had bought. One guy had a flat bed cart stacked with rice and beans….a young guy at that. I was thinking maybe he has a large family or runs a restaurant or something. But I was wrong…people were panic shopping. This week some stores have put a limit on buying such as Walmart, Target, and others but don’t know about Costco.
I had two trips planned but cancelled them. I’m 75 years old and in the category that is not good according to news reports so I’ll stay at home and do puzzles, sew, and watch T.V. until this blows over. Be safe everyone.
The sun has another very direct effect, in that it enables our skin to synthesize Vitamin D which is great for our immune system. Another good reason to get out in the sunshine. Good for the mind, good for health.
As for toilet paper selling out, I have to admit that whole craze seems insane to watch from afar. Here in France there is TP everywhere (no shortages at all that I’ve seen), whereas practical things like flour & pasta are more likely to be sold out. Why all the TP? Perhaps I need to write a post about that, just to lighten things up a bit.
Best of continued health to you!
ain't for city gals says
I believe what you are saying more than any other news source! I hope USA is finally starting to catch on what is happening in Europe etc.
We cut short our time as Winter Texans in Austin’s Hill Country to head back to home base in Indiana. Left a month early to ride it out in our familiar home and area. Glad we did as your post stated. The SHTF and is still hitting as we speak! Hope your plans go well and safely.
I think you made a very sound choice. Right now it’s best to just hunker down for a bit and see how everything plays out. If we all do our part this thing will be entirely manageable.
Velda Solomon says
Well written. I shared it with all I know.
Thank you, and thank for sharing it. I hope the message gets out in time.
Charlene Malone says
Thank you Nina we are on our annual winter sojourn through Arizona (from Hailey, Idaho where we had you over for dinner in our back yard!). We’ve been conflicted about continuing on or going home. Your excellent post has cleared things up so we will head back to where we “want to stay”. You continue to give such great guidance & information—even from afar. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts❤️Charlene Malone
Hi there! I have such fond memories of our dinner together at your place in Idaho. So glad we got to meet. And I’m happy I could give you some clarity. I really hope I’m over-reacting to this thing, but I fear I am not. I feel comforted that my blog readers are getting somewhere safe.
Juley Torkomian says
Nina, So much food for thought. I’m 57, a widow, traveling with my dog. I’m in New Orleans 2600 miles from home in Washington State. I am certain I don’t want to be in New Orleans as things get worse but I’m not sure I can make it all the way home either. This is a tough one. I’m taking today to make a decision about finding a place to stop and ride it out or just bee-line home as fast as I can.
Thanks for all the information and your views.
Mark Seneker says
Juley, we are camped at Fontainebleau State Park on the north shore of the lake, 26 miles from New Orleans. We are cutting our stay three days short and moving to central Mississippi to a park with full hookups. That may or may not be the place we end up staying through the crisis. We selected a park we would want to stay at long-term non the less. Although the park at our next move is managed by the state river authority and that leaves us a bit vulnerable to state closures compared perhaps to a private park. Once we arrive we will immediately come up with a plan to move to a nearby private park a short distance away as a plan B.
We decided to get close to a city with larger hospitals yet less population. I still don’t trust New Orleans or Louisiana for handling emergencies. We are limiting our contact with others, for example only one going inside a store. One concern is that every RV park will start to close their public bathrooms so full hookups are a must.
Our personal decision is things will not be any better near our family back in Missouri. We are full-timers. It’s a hard decision and very personal. We felt our current situation could be improved so we are moving. We figure there is a chance we could be locked down either by travel restrictions or decide to do it on our own without being told. We want to give the hospitals a chance to keep up with this. We figure there may not be time to make long moves that take a period of weeks. It’s important to stay healthy in general and not get too tired or warn down which can be caused by rapid traveling.
So in short, we are moving to full hookups a couple hundred miles north. Told the wife we are getting a large bag of rice, freezing whatever beef and getting cans of beans. Also making sure we have what we need should one of us get mildly sick.
Just putting this out as to what we are thinking.
Good luck to you and yours. We are in this together…..
Mark D Seneker says
Should have also mentioned. I wonder if it would be a good idea regardless of what park anyone is staying at that we get with neighbors or management to come up with a plan if someone gets sick and needs help. For example a friend is contacting elderly people he knows and dropping groceries on their front porch to help them avoid contact. Solos, or even in our case where the wife does not drive the big truck, we possibly would have to rely on help from others. And I’m willing to help as well with whatever it takes. We all know what wonderful people we meet on the road. I’ll keep the six foot distance from neighbors best I can but at the same time maybe start a dialogue that I’m willing to help if they need it.
I think that is an excellent idea.
Thanks for your message. I decided, being alone, I should go where my family is. I set out the same day I wrote this comment and did an 8-day, 3,050-mile trip home. I arrived just a couple of days ago. I’m in my full hookup site on my brother’s 5 acres of land. I think I made the right decision. It was a grueling trip but I made it.
I hope you and yours are safe and well. Thanks for your input.
I am so glad you made it to a safe place. Thanks so much for checking in!!
Heidi Corning says
Thank you for this, for being analytical, for being real.
THANKS so much for the advice: “You need to decide where you want to be during this turbulent time, go there now & then plan to stay for a while.”
My girlfriend and I read this on Sunday and had a serious talk. On Monday night after more news, we made the decision to drive over 700 miles from the U.S. to Canada (to relatives). Being full-timers, one of the things we were worried about was campgrounds closing, leaving us with much fewer choices. Yesterday as we were driving, they announced the border would be closed to non-citizens (I am not Canadian), which will take effect tomorrow night. I feel like we just barely made it in.
Wow! I am SO happy I helped you make that decision!! And SO happy you made it. Hopefully this will only be a short detour in your overall RV journey, but if this does take longer I’m just really glad you are in a safe and confortable spot to ride it out. Thanks so much for checking in.