What's Next After A Pandemic

Things must be getting better. People are back to dragging everything back to politics. I miss the early days of quarantine when we were nicer people.

I don't give gripers much room in my head. I prefer to concentrate on important stuff like what comes next.

Things are getting better depending on where you live, but it won't go back to what we thought was normal--at least not for a while.

You might feel happy to go back to restaurants or go shopping without a care, but my concerns go deeper. A lot of people lost their jobs because of this virus. Some companies won't recover, so those jobs are gone forever.

Small businesses are especially hard hit. I don't blame people for wanting to go back to work. It's fine if you can work from home, but many people can't. Unfortunately, there's no good scenario out there. It's one thing to order people to stay home, quite another to keep them from earning a livelihood.

What are the long term ramifications if we isolate too long...or not long enough? There's really no right answer. In the end, someone is going to get hurt one way or another. That damage will trickle down to the rest of us indirectly.

Recently on Facebook, I asked my friends what their stores looked like. When we went shopping last Tuesday, there were no shortages for the things I wanted. That wasn't the case for many of my friends. I was quite surprised. This was the first time I'd been out in more than six weeks. I expected a wasteland, yet all the shelves were full. That isn't the case everywhere though.

This leads me to believe that we're facing a growing distribution and manufacturing imbalance for the long term. Worse yet, after all the meat plant closures in the US, I'm not sure I'd trust meat sold right now. And what about other perishables like medicine?

The first thing I did after I read those comments on Facebook was to take a hard look at my inventory.

We are in excellent shape. Plenty of food and other consumables. My goal now is to grow that inventory to last a year.

We're lucky in that we actually grow or raise much of our food. But there are some things we cannot produce ourselves.

For example I don't grow rice. I can't manufacture toilet paper, alcohol, or oil. We still have to buy prescription medication. This means these are the items we must rely on from the outside world.

What I recommend is that as soon as you can go shopping again, start thinking six months down the line. What will you need if this virus becomes seasonal and we get hit again in the winter--or worse, around Christmas when everyone is out shopping and eating like consumer-maniacs?

Every time you shop, pick up one extra package of soap, alcohol, toilet paper, or whatever consumable you're low on now. That's your wake up call on what could be a shortage the next time this happens.

That's not hoarding. You're stocking up for the year. This way you're not stuck in that rabid crowd of panic shoppers.

Here's my checklist for the next 12 months.
  • Fats: Believe it or not this is the one thing I didn't store enough. Fats include butter, oils, and shortening.

  • Dairy: We're not milk drinkers but most people are. Since it's a perishable item, you might want to consider those shelf-stable milk cartons or dry milk. You can also freeze milk--or you can be like me and keep a dairy goat. 😊 🐐  Don't forget cheeses and yogurts.

  • Eggs: Eggs keep for weeks at a time. If you're not keeping chickens, consider freezing the next dozen eggs you buy so you don't have to run out during a lock down.

  • Bread: Bread freezes surprisingly well and defrosts nicely. If you suspect we might have to stay put again, buy a couple of extra loaves.

  • Toilet paper: I'm going to assume you weren't one of those crazies buying up all the TP stock in the store, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't buy one extra package on every shopping trip. They're easy to store and never go out of style.

  • Alcohol: This item sold out fast. When you see it again, pick up a couple to keep in reserve.

  • Sanitizer or Sanitizer Wipes: Ditto.

  • Comfort Food: Whatever your comfort food, be it pasta, potatoes, or pudding, don't let your pantry run out. Comfort food is emotional therapy.

  • Pet Food/Livestock Food: Animal feed is where I should've upped my game. I almost waited until too late to stock up and nearly ran out of cat food until a kind neighbor picked some up for me. It made me a little nervous knowing I almost ran out.

  • Over-the-counter and Prescription Medicine: Keep tabs of your meds and try to keep an extra month's worth of everything. 
As soon as things loosen up in your area, start catching up on things like pet vaccinations and dental work.

If Coronavirus becomes seasonal, will you do things differently if we face another bout of isolation?

By the way, here's an interesting article that says that this Coronavirus has mutated 30 times so far. That's probably why no one treatment has worked for everyone. It'll make it harder to develop a vaccine too.


Stacy McKitrick said…
Sometimes I feel like COVID-19 isn't going away, forget seasonal! If heat and humidity is bad for it, how come Australia got hit in their summer? How come it's affecting people who live near the equator?

I guess the only thing I'll do differently is wear a mask. Which I don't own now, because I haven't left the house (except to walk the neighborhood) in over a month. I'll certainly limit my outside trips and Hubby figures he's working from home for at least a month after work opens back up to employees to return (to make sure no one is getting sick). I worry about him more than myself (although that blood-clot thing worries me because of my stupid heart valve). Too many mutations out there and now they don't even know if you're immune after you get it.

Never thought I'd be living a horror/thriller novel!!
Maria Zannini said…
Stacy: I know. Too many unanswered questions that's why I doubt the bat market story.

Somebody screwed up whether deliberately or accidentally, it makes no difference.

re: masks
I think that'll be my key change too.
the author said…
Whether the virus goes seasonal or not (and I'm guessing it will) we're going to continue what we're doing now with staying mostly in isolation and maintaining personal protection. I think until there's a vaccine we have to live this way; we're both high risk, and living in a rural area means our access to health care is already limited. On the plus side, the number of cases and deaths in our county remains very low compared to other parts of the state.

I'm watching the situation with the food supply, and working out how we might stock up for a year on non-perishables. Like you, Maria, I won't do it all at once, but just start building reserves. I'm also wondering what's best to buy so I can keep nutritious meals on the table if we do have to live off our supplies for months. Your list helps a lot, thank you. :)
lisa lombardo said…
Great advice. We are starting to see an increase in cases and deaths in our county now, which is very rural.

We are doing very well and our biggest concerns are for everyone who is not able to grow their food, work from home, or work at all. Family and friends are being affected and I am worried about them.

I've been wearing a mask and gloves when I do need to go out. I bought extra layers and am planning to order more meat birds this year than I normally do. We have quite a bit of food in the freezer and pantry still. We're cleaning out all of the food stores to make room for the harvest, which I do every year.

I've been ordering my food mostly from food co-ops and trying to order a little bit extra each time. Feed for the livestock is on my mind and I may stock up on some whole grains just in case the feed store starts to run low.
Jenny Schwartz said…
With social isolation, there's a lot more home delivery. I don't have statistics, but my feeling is that Australia lagged the US in terms of online shopping, still preferring to shop in shops, but we're catching up now! I think some of that will stay. And I think people will appreciate our parks more, which is great because we have lovely public spaces.

What's currently frustrating Aussies right now is the lack of sport!

I suspect this disease is here to stay and other new diseases (or resurgent old ones like TB) will follow. Hopefully sensible investment in our medical system will be maintained and not dropped in between crises.
Maria Zannini said…
Lynn: The logistics of stocking up can be daunting, especially if you don't raise your own food. For me, the easiest way is to break it down by category.

Beef, chicken, fish, fats, dairy, spices, sweeteners, vegetables, and fruits. From there you can create a list of things that not only store well, but will vary your menu.

If this isolation has done anything it's given me a dry run in case things get worse. It's easier for me to see now where I'm weakest at and which area needs the most work.
Maria Zannini said…
Lisa: You bring up a good point about grain. I'm a little low on seed, but I think I'm going to plant what I have and grow it as a supplement for the animals.

I incubated some chicken eggs with the idea of selling the chicks, then the pandemic hit. We really didn't want people coming over, so I decided to raise the chicks to full grown and put them in the freezer. Chicken feeds man and dogs. :)
Maria Zannini said…
Jenny: I still don't like the idea of online grocery shopping. Most people I talk to don't like it, but it's better than going out.

re: sports
I'm kind of surprised more people aren't grumbling about a lack of sports--especially in Texas.
Mike Keyton said…
Speaking of meat, the EU has huge beef/cheese/potato mountains so prices have fallen and citizens are being exhorted to
Eat filet mignon with chips and a side order of cheese. The mountain was caused by the mass lockdown of restaurants and
Maria Zannini said…
Mike: I wish I understood the meat industry better. Meat producers are dumping tons of carcasses since the remaining processing plants can't keep up. It would seem to me it could be a tax write off to donate the critter or find smaller facilities.

We might not see the shortages now, but we will if they can't find enough processors.