Coronavirus Keeping Me Up At Night!

Coronavirus Keeping Me Up At Night!

I was up early yesterday morning and also this morning. I’ve been a little restless these past few nights, not because of any fear of contracting Covid-19, but because of  ‘thee’ Great Coronavirus Panic’ of 2020 (GCP)! What keeps me awake at night is this: The fact I have yet to see any real panic here on Guam and the entire world is going batshit crazy! People here are aware and are talking about it, and most people are going about their daily lives, albeit with a little more attention to detail (not much though) and tourism is down, as should be expected.  A very few number of people here are wearing masks, and even fewer are wearing gloves (like that will help). While hand sanitizer and masks might be in short supply, there seems to be no real shortages of anything else. Especially toilet paper! But the rest of the world’s news media portrays a much different perspective – ‘The sky is falling’ –  and like what Rahm Emanuel (D) once said, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”

I heard a comment this morning on a local radio station … “there are more containers leaving the island than there are arriving” meaning if things keep going this way, we will expect to see some goods shortages. (The definition of ‘some goods’ will follow in a subsequent post). How soon that will happen on this island is not hard to figure out – but it will surely be ‘after’ almost everyplace else begins complaining. And then, only then, will Guamanians admit to feeling feeling the pinch.

Take for example these remarks by a close friend here on Guam:  “People ask me why I like living in the islands. This is a perfect example.  Island people go through hell in one form or another all the time (you try living on one) and don’t panic about anything, really. Calm, cool, and collected. Not binge buying toilet paper, which by the way, does nothing to help with the issue at hand.

We just go about our daily lives because once you have lived through CAT-5 typhoons and earthquakes, a virus is just another thing.
No photo description available.” ~ M. Williams Sr.

My friend Michael is a local radio personality who also administers the “Pacific Typhoon Season” facebook page, an extremely popular page for almost everything “weather” related in the Western Pacific. Check out the Pacific Typhoon Season.

Biba Guam!

Last year my wife and I attended a small local celebration at one of the islands mayoral/village centers. We both felt honored to be invited and then be referred to as “Guamanian,” although I knew very well that his remarks were directed to everyone who lives on the island, we are all considered Guamanians! (Big difference than actually being Chamarro!) Bottom line here is that in this part of the world, it matters not where you come from, but how willing you are to accept and adapt to this island’s way of life.  Guam is definitely SE Asian in flavor yet American in color! And if you can handle it, you’re in!

From my perspective here on Guam, what I’m seeing play out around the world over is almost surreal. When was the last time a world event brought the ‘entire’ world down, and together, at the same time?  It’s just crazy that it has to be a virus that does it. At this point I could suggest a global conspiracy, but that would be a bit to tangiental here. It’s a world event that everyone is a part of, except that it is an event that some of the world’s population worries much less about. Guam seems to be one of those places, not that the island has not taken a proactive and cautionary approach, because they have.

When speaking directly about the virus here on Guam, there have been NO confirmed cases as of the time I sit and write this article. We have had 4 Persons Under Investigation (PUI) tested and all four tests proved negative. So far so good! Considering we are so close to the viral epicenter, and the fact that the majority of the island’s tourism base here is spread from across Japan, ROKorea, and China, I’m amazed that the virus has not surfaced here yet. I’m sure though that we will not go unscaved for very long. This is probably a huge factor when it comes to local positive attitudes.

There were some early steps taken by authorities here that restricted entry from hot spots almost upon the onset of the spread of the virus. And not much has been spoken of that action since. And why would it be? That action surely can’t take the blam for the loss of local economic activity as much as it can be for Guam’s lack of “Covid-19 cases.” 

Officially Speaking…

Back to the entire ‘World Media’ led by the West:  There is an insurmountable amount of information available about COVID-19. It has occupied so much of my required reading lately that I feel comfortably compelled to provide as much accurate information as I can. Did you know that the amount of information available about this virus as compared to the last pandemic is 60% greater? And it has been made available much more quickly!

Here is what I have learned to be true: At the time of writing this, the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 has…

    • Infected over 100,000 people, with 41,000 active cases
    • Resulted in 3,400 deaths and 55,000 recoveries
    • Affected 65 countries
    • A Case Fatality Rate (CFR) of 3.4% globally, which means that 3.4% of people who contracted the disease have died. This differs according to location and age:
      – 2-4% in Wuhan, China (the epicentre of the outbreak)
      – 14.8% in people aged 80+
      – 1.3% in people aged 50-59
      – 0.4% in people aged 40-49
      – 0.2% in people aged 10-39

If YOU want to learn more about how Coronavirus compares to other virus threats, you can follow this link: Learn the difference between different viruses (all links open in new window).

If you’d like to learn more about the novel coronavirus, how it’s transmitted, and measures you can take to slow its progress, join the COVID-19 coronavirus course from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. The first week starts on 23rd March (2020).

You can also track the spread of the disease worldwide by visiting the John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center or the Philippines own Department of Health Tracking Site. (Note: there may be a slight reporting difference/timeline experience between the two sites.)

Back on the ‘Other’ Home Front –  Rumors are Flying!

All that aside, here is what is happening back in our barangay in Samar. The the rumors are flying!  I copied the following post from a fb group member today: “Now here in the barangay, the rumors are flying. I just heard from multiple people including my wife that starting tomorrow calbayog is going to be locked down they are going to calbayog to buy a month of groceries. I tried to tell them if that was true there would be a statement somewhere online. But there not buying that because their cousin’s have told them and they trust their cousins.” 

“Heard it from a fri-eeend… who heard it from another I was messin’ arou-und”  (REO Speedwagon). There is no place in the world that reacts on rumors like the Philippines (well there might be, but I wouldn’t know because I don’t live there).  Today I heard today from multiple sources (people and media), including my wife’s own bamboo network, that starting Sunday, March 15th (2020), calbayog will be ‘locked down’ in response to directives coming from Malacañang, and on the back of the news about the Manila lock-down. Not in the physical sense of home quarantines per se, but more in the sense of inbound and outbound commuting. At least that is what everyone could expect to happen given the panic level – that there will be screening checkpoints (attempts) put in place at all points of entry into Calbayog City. It is being said that only those who are “legitimate” travelers will be allowed to enter and exit the area.

I’m also hearing of similiar things on the provincial level, meaning nothing coming into Samar from from Bicol (the North) nor anything from the south (Cebu). Samar and Leyte have always been commonly thought of as one Island (Region VIII). I’ve already heard tidbits about ferry boat traffic being curtailed before the ban takes affect.

Keep in mind, all the above is just compiled hearsay, but should also not be discounted… because it at least some of it sounds logical.  What I can hardly imagine though is how long Samar or Leyte can survive without some major replenishments, especially in the major commodities sector, i.e., fuel, staple foods, etc. I do know this –  Filipinos and Pacific Islanders can survive better than most from any global catastrophe. The resiliency of all these peoples is, well…  hard to match.  With an abundance of locally grown fruits and produce, and the other home-grown bounties like livestock and seafood, this is not a bad place to be when it comes to any disaster. Guam might just worry a bit less though, and for differing reasons (they can lean on America if need be) of course.

So now, Metro Manila is headed for lockdown and already those who live in the province are worried about logistics. How will Philippines authorites handle this dilema – people will not be free to travel, yet goods and services will? It’s going to be a logistical nightmare in my opinion. Gonna be interesting to see how this plays out.

Meanwhile on Guam…

toilet paper in stock on guam
No worries in this department!

Our store shelves remain stocked, with the exception of disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizers. But that can only mean that people are using these products island-wide on just about anything that doesn’t move… which means a sterile environment, right?  All kidding aside, things here don’t seem to be all that panicked, as compared to what the media is portraying elsewhere. Tourism is down and many businesses are feeling the pinch, but the attititude here seems to be “tomorrow is another day!”

On the Euro Front!

‘The EU Disapproves’: Brussels Angry Trump Acted on Coronavirus Without Their Permission.

Just last Wednesday, President Trump announced a 30-day travel ban on all travel to the U.S. from Europe which went into effect on Friday the 13th.  The ban is limited to mainland Europe, specifically the countries in the visa-free travel area known as the Schengen Zone, like France, Germany, and Sweden. The UK has been excluded.

The European Commission has said that the European Union “disapproves” of President Donald Trump’s decision to protect his citizens from further foreign exposure to Coronavirus by banning entry from most of the bloc’s countries without having consulted with Brussels, first.

Trump has provided a very sufficient rebuttal to the EU’s scolding remarks… “There was not enough time to inform all the countries… it would have taken too long and I needed to act immediately!” He definitely stayed with his “America First” approach and that’s good enough by me! 😎 As far as Trump is concerned, the EU’s response to the Wuhan Virus is a case history of of what not to do.

Just Me and the Mrs.

So we find ourselves interrupted… during the planning stages of our return home to Samar. Our plan originally was to fly to the Philippines on May 2nd, but now we have had to put things on pause. We definitely would not want to wind up in Manila and not be able to get out of the NCR, if that travel ban were to be extended, or if things did happen to get worse. Manila might be an okay place to visit, but I never intend on sticking around there very long. So for now, we will just sit back, relax, and observe how it all plays out.

Tonight as I pen this post, it’s just me, my keyboard, some homemade chili and a bottle of Miguel Torres Santa Digna Merlot (2017)… and the Mrs. in the other room keeping an eye on the panicked news media.

For now, it sure beats being in any level of quarantine somewhere… knowing that the beer supply could be disrupted, or worse… eliminated!

Spending the evening with Living in the Pacific
Living it up in the Pacific – Just me, a keyboard, some chili and wine!

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