Having seen this movie before as an expatriate living in the third or developing world, I have a sense of what to expect in the second worst case scenario of the coronavirus.
In the first worst case, I would be dead before it came to town.
Abroad we planned for things that might happen, so I’ll start from those skills.
- The power might go out as it did everywhere we lived in the developing world. In Mexico it happened (yet again) as we were about to sit down for dinner party at our home, with 50 guests.
- The water might stop running as it did in Mexico and Ecuador, making the pool water of the latter quite useful.
- Deliveries might disappear from groceries and other shops leaving them with empty shelves, a reality that often happened on the sunny island of Curaçao. It’s an experience to watch fresh broccoli rot on the grocer shelf to an unappetizing brown. But I learned to buy ahead non-perishable items.
- So like then, I will stock up on things we use anyway, just more than I’d usually keep about.
Cans and jars of foods, dry goods like pasta and rice, a container to store drinking water (if needed), long shelf-life items like UHT (ultra high temperature) almond milk, wine and dark chocolate. Prescription medications that our stingy insurance allow us to order more than one unit at a time. And things without expiry dates like tissues, toilet paper, soaps for everything from our dishes to clothes, hair and body washes.
But what I most assuredly will not stock on, is panic. Panic is not helpful for my primary immune deficiency that needs weekly infusions to be normal like other people’s. That isn’t a medical statement, just a life lived in challenging countries statement.
So I’ll stock up on reliable, science-based information. Not the voodoo of social media and poorly sourced internet junk, or the magical thinking of a friend who is hanging onions about the house to keep coronavirus away.
But don’t listen to me. Go to the CDC coronavirus website to read and learn. Read a book, like John M. Barry’s The Great Influenza. Take a FREE beginner course online like my 9-year-old British grandson at Coursera. (Full disclosure, a relative works at Coursera.)
Knowledge is power and also assuages fear.