Wuhan Coronavirus Hits the US: What Preppers Need to Know

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(Jan. 22, 2020) The CDC has confirmed the first case of 2019 novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the US. The patient is a man in his 30s who had recently traveled through the Wuhan region in China to Snohomish County, Washington State, north of Seattle.

And, according to the CDC, this won’t be the last case.

Coronaviruses can produce severe, sometimes fatal respiratory illness. The 2019-nCoV appears to be a fast-moving, highly contagious virus. So far, there are 6 confirmed deaths out of approximately 300 confirmed cases.

This is a developing threat, and one that we need to keep an eye on. I expect information regarding this virus to change and be updated frequently on sites such as the CDC, WHO, and CIDRAP.

Update: Here are our recommendations for preparing for the possibility of a widespread pandemic involving this virus.

Here is what we know right now.

What Is a coronavirus?

A coronavirus is a relatively common type of virus among mammals. In spite of how common they are, relatively few of them make humans ill. When they do make us sick, however, it can be serious. Deadly serious.

The term “coronavirus” comes from its appearance. The virus is covered in spikes, giving it a crown-like appearance. The spikes look like a halo or corona. Both SARS and MERS are coronaviruses that have proven fatal. There’s an ongoing outbreak of MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome) in Saudi Arabia which has killed 858 people globally since 2012.

Coronaviruses are enveloped RNA viruses. Because they are enveloped, they have greater protection. RNA viruses mutate more frequently than DNA viruses. So, what we have here is a virus that is well-protected from our immune system and that has a greater likelihood of mutation. Both of these pose challenges to developing treatments.

How does a coronavirus make you sick?

Coronaviruses produce respiratory symptoms like a cold or flu. Symptoms include coughing, fever, congestion, headaches, body aches, and a sore throat. Coronaviruses can, however, develop into viral pneumonia.

For people in at-risk populations, such as the very young or very old, or who also have a pre-existing condition, such as diabetes or heart disease, the risk of dying from pneumonia is very real.

What is 2019-nCoV?

The Wuhan Coronavirus, officially known as 2019-nCoV, is a coronavirus first identified from a patient in Wuhan, China. The novel (new) coronavirus was first noted in mid-December. The illness has been linked to a market. According to Cidrap:

Today, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported that Wuhan authorities told visiting Hong Kong health officials that three members of the same household were among the 41 cases. They include a father, his son, and a cousin who ran a seafood stall at the market at the center of the investigation and got sick at the same time, suggesting that they may have been exposed to the same source. The market also sold live animals such as poultry, bats, and marmots, along with wildlife parts.

Since coronaviruses are spread by mammals, it is unlikely that the family because infected from their own seafood stand. It is more likely that they were infected by live animals from a nearby vendor.

How is the Wuhan Coronavirus spread?

The big threat is person-to-person transmission. Early reports stated it was transmitted animal-to-person. But it wasn’t long before the worst was confirmed.

The wife of the man who owned the seafood stand got sick. She hadn’t been to the market and could only have caught it from her husband. Soon, more person-to-person cases began popping up, including healthcare workers caring for infected patients.

The transmission of coronavirus is similar to influenza. It is transmitted via the water droplets spread in the air when someone coughs, sneezes, or breathes. It is possible that it is transmitted by coming in contact with other infected bodily fluids. MERS, for example, is transmitted not only person-to-person but also camel-to-human through contact with infected camel urine and milk.

How deadly is the Wuhan Coronavirus?

For some people, like the man in Washington State, the Wuhan coronavirus won’t result in anything more than a bad cold. For others, it has been fatal.

At this point, there are 6 confirmed deaths out of 300 or so confirmed cases of 2019-nCoV. That works out to be a 2% mortality rate. Compared to MERS which has slightly over 30% mortality rate in patients without pre-existing conditions, this does not appear to be a deadly threat.

One of the victims of 2019-nCoV was an 89-year old man with diabetes and a heart condition. I have not been able to track down information on the other 5 people who died. It would be logical, however, that these victims were also in a weaker condition before they became infected. But, at this point, I want to be careful with assumptions.

However, just because it currently has a 2% mortality rate doesn’t mean that number won’t change. When MERS first emerged, it had a mortality rate of about 60%. It popped up in a limited population, mostly camel herders. Within this group, those with diabetes had an almost 90% mortality rate. However, when it began to spread to the population at large, it dropped to just above 30%.

SARS, another coronavirus that originated in China, had a 15% mortality rate in the general population. Among elderly patients, that jumped to around 50%.

Until we see more information about the other 5 people who died (and future fatalities), and until we have seen this disease spread to more people in more areas, we just don’t know if that 2% number is going to go up, down, or stay the same. What we do know is that mutation is always a risk with coronaviruses. The more people who become infected, the greater the chance for a mutation and a higher mortality rate.

There will be more Cases of Wuhan Coronavirus

What is a near certainty is that there will be plenty more cases of 2019-nCoV. Not only is the CDC anticipating more cases, but the WHO is also concerned about sustained transmission. In other words, they expect this to last a while.

In major developments surrounding the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak centered in China, the World Health Organization (WHO) said it sees possible evidence of sustained transmission—meaning the virus is spreading beyond just clusters of patients.

In addition, China today reported another spike in cases—to more than 300—plus two more deaths, with more newly affected provinces, while Taiwan reported its first 2019-nCoV case in a traveler from Wuhan.

National Geographic points out the uncertainty in how deadly, or not, this coronavirus could be:

It’s unclear whether or not this [Wuhan] virus is simply going to die out or whether it’s going to evolve into something that’s more pathogenic,” Lipkin says. “We don’t have any evidence yet of superspreaders, and hopefully we never will. But we also don’t know how long this new coronavirus lasts on surfaces, or how long people will continue to shed virus after being infected.”

Where has the Wuhan Coronavirus spread?

2019-nCoV is our latest pandemic. To be clear, pandemic doesn’t mean “extra-deadly”. It means that a disease has crossed a border or is impacted a significantly large landmass. Wuhan Coronavirus has already crossed multiple borders thanks to air travel, plus it is spreading further within China.

Currently, 2019-nCoV has been confirmed in China, Taiwan, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, the US and possibly Australia (still waiting on test results to confirm the Australian patient’s illness).

What is the US government doing in response?

There isn’t much they can do at the moment. One thing they can do is screen passengers from Wuhan as they fly to the US.

Nancy Messonnier, MD, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said that, on Jan 19 as the nCoV situation was evolving in China and in the Asian region, federal officials decided to expand traveler health checks in people arriving from Wuhan at two more US airports: Atlanta and Chicago.

Also, health officials will funnel all Wuhan air travelers into the five US airports doing enhanced screening, which also includes JFK Airport in New York and international airports in San Francisco and Los Angeles. US officials used a similar strategy to screen people arriving from West Africa during the 2014 Ebola outbreak. The funneling process is complex, requiring air passengers to be rerouted and reticketed.

I would not be surprised to see this expanded to all flights coming in from China as this develops.

The CDC doesn’t have much else to offer, other than to suggest handwashing, which is a good if insufficient, suggestion.

This will spread much further

Two things that lead me to believe that the Wuhan coronavirus will spread much further than it already has are:

  1. The numbers of total infected are likely much higher than China is reporting.
  2. Millions of Chinese people are about to travel to celebrate the Chinese New Year

Is China accurately reporting the number of infections?

When MERS initially broke out in Saudi Arabia, the reported numbers were artificially low. The Saudi government was terribly slow in reporting accurate numbers. Whether this is intentional or not, it appears that China is also downplaying the total number of people infected. This is a common practice in order to prevent public panic.

According to the Imperial College London:

…the number of people to be infected as of January 12 (per the study) is likely more in the region of 1,723 — a figure around 35 times greater than the 45 cases confirmed in a lab.

The estimate of total infected ranged from 996 up to 2,298 on January 12. Also, from the article:

Here is the academics’ conclusion:

“It is likely that the Wuhan outbreak of a novel coronavirus has caused substantially more cases of moderate or severe respiratory illness than currently reported.”

Chinese New Year

This virus has emerged at an interesting time. The Chinese people will be celebrating their lunar New Year this Saturday, January 25th. Over the course of their celebrations, Chinese travelers are expected to make over an estimated 3 billion trips.

3 billion trips.

That’s a whole lot of opportunity to spread a highly contagious disease throughout a dense population. Think of all the chances 2019-nCoV will have to mutate as it infects more and more people.

These two factors will give the Wuhan coronavirus every opportunity to spread and mutate. We will have plenty of new cases, and we’ll see if that very low mortality rate of 2% holds or not.

What can you do?

Here are some things you can do to be proactive without panicking.

Take all the same precautions as you would for a cold or flu.

  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Avoid excess sugar and alcohol.
  • Avoid crowds (malls, stadiums, airports, etc) and closed population (prisons, dormitories, nursing homes, any place with re-circled air).
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap
  • Avoid touching your face.

If you have a pre-existing condition, do what you can to improve it, if possible.

These may include:

  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension
  • Kidney Disease
  • Heart Disease
  • Obesity
  • Cancer and impaired immune response

Get ready for an extended bug-in.

If this disease continues to spread and become more deadly as it is transmitted around the globe, you may wish to do a Self-Imposed Reverse Quarantine (SIRQ). This is where you voluntarily separate yourself from others until you know its safe outside your borders.

I have included detailed instructions on how to implement a SIRQ during a pandemic in my book, The Wuhan Coronavirus Survival Manual: How to Prepare for Pandemics and Quarantines. In it, you will find even more information specific to coronaviruses and preparing for all sorts of pandemics.

You can find an article about pandemic preparedness here.

You can find an article about how pandemics spread here.

Keep in mind that pandemics can last for a long time. You’ll want to start improving your food storage, water supplies, and any medical supplies and medications you may need for an extended period.

Improve your health and first aid skills.

During the Ebola crisis of 2014, many people died waiting at clinics for health care not related to the Ebola outbreak. There just weren’t enough health care workers, beds, or supplies to go around. People were dying from heart attacks and complications to labor simply because personnel and supplies were stretched too thin. Besides, during an outbreak, do you really want to go to where all the really sick people are for something like pinkeye or a stomach bug?

Get out of the city if you can.

You would be best served getting out of densely populated areas. Disease spreads fast in cities and high population centers. If you can get out of dodge, all the better for you and your loved ones. Another book that does a good job of addressing pandemic preparedness, but from a fiction POV, is The Jakarta Pandemic, by Steven Konkoly.

If you can’t get out of the city or out of the burbs, be prepared for neighbors who did not prep for this to turn on you if they think you have supplies. I cover this in The Wuhan Coronavirus Survival Manual, but during the Ebola outbreak back in 2014, people were breaking curfew and defying martial law because they were sitting in their homes with no food. Do you think we would allocate supplies more efficiently? Ask anyone who has had to rely on FEMA during a disaster if they would rely on the government to feed you during an emergency. And look at that warehouse of two-year-old emergency supplies that were stashed away and not distributed in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, leaving people to suffer needlessly.

In Summary

Disease is a scary thing we don’t like to look at. It’s not an enemy we can shoot. We are overdue for another Great Pandemic, similar to Influenza in 1918. We don’t know when and we don’t know where. But, history has proven that pandemics can and will continue to happen.

The best thing you can do is stay informed, mind your overall health to lower your risk of serious complications, and avoid being around other people whenever possible.

We’ll keep you updated as this outbreak develops. Questions or concerns? Drop me a line in the comment section.

About Cat

Cat Ellis is an herbalist,  massage therapist, midwifery student, and urban homesteader from New England. She keeps bees, loves gardening and canning, and practice time at the range. She teaches herbal skills on her website, Herbal Prepper. Cat is a member of the American Herbalists Guild, and the author of three books, The Wuhan Coronavirus Survival Manual: How to Prepare for Pandemics and Quarantines, Prepper’s Natural Medicine and Prepping for a Pandemic.

Picture of Cat Ellis

Cat Ellis

Cat Ellis is an herbalist,  massage therapist, midwifery student, and urban homesteader from New England. She keeps bees, loves gardening and canning, and practice time at the range. She teaches herbal skills on her website, Herbal Prepper. Cat is a member of the American Herbalists Guild, and the author of two books, Prepper’s Natural Medicine and Prepping for a Pandemic.

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  • One more bug coming down the pike “discovered” by the WHO. They also “discovered” SARs, Swine Flu, Ebola etc.
    Lots of hype and drama and maybe even a vaccine to come in the near future. To say I am skeptical of this new virus would be minimal. There was so much made of the above mentioned bugs and in the end, it was for very little.

    John Rappaport writes very well and in depth on this issue. You can find his latest here:

    Not saying bugs don’t make people sick. There is some very good advice in the above article on how to take care of yourself. Obviously if you already have a compromised immune system then you don’t want to catch any of these bugs.
    Stay safe, stay smart and do not buy into the hype.

    • I think I would agree not to buy into the hype. Especially if it comes from mainstream news media. They get you scared and worked up in order to get you to take an action that is not in your best interest, like taking some new rot gut vaccine that makes big promises by suggestion, but in reality weakens your immune system or actually makes you really sick.. Whatever mainstream media suggest is very likely the opposite of what you should do. 36000 people per year die of plain old flu in the United States alone. A few thousand one way or the other is not enough to make it worth compromising your own health by taking some death serum touted by the CDC. Even doctors are waking up and realizing that most of the vaccines cause people to get sick rather than protecting them from the disease. The paybacks, kickbacks and threats they get from the CDC and drug companies aren’t worth watching their patients die over.

      • I never knew what to think about the hype surrounding “new” diseases as well as the modern-day mistrust of vaccines–until recently. I remember the Swine Flu scare of the 1970’s, the vaccine for which killed or permanently injured more people than the disease apparently did. Around this time, a college textbook intended for students of public administration entitled “Ecoscience” by John P. Holdren and Paul and Anne Ehrlich reportedly advocated the elimination of 7/8 of the Earth’s human population. Coincidence? Within a few years’ time, a law was in place that held harmless any manufacturer of any vaccine that caused injury, illness or death in any human. In the early 2000’s I worked for a company that employed maybe 25 people in the same office. Most everyone had gotten flu shots–something I’ve never had because I rarely get sick and everyone that gets a flu shot always contracts a mild form of flu, presumably from the shot. Though I’d heard of “Shingles”, I’d never known anyone to actually suffer from it until that year–several of the women i worked with–that did get flu shots–developed that condition. Coincidence? In the early 1970’s I dropped out of college to go into the wild animal import/export business. Because I was always getting bitten by my inventory, I got a Tetanus shot along with frequent boosters to minimize my risk. I never had a reaction to the vaccine. Recently, while being pressured by my doctor to get vaccinations against flu. pneumonia and other dubious afflictions, I agreed only to a Tetanus shot–I rarely get bitten by critters any more, but get cuts and abrasions while hunting/fishing/camping/hiking. I had a nasty reaction this time, developing severe body aches and a fever causing me to take a day off of work–something I have done less than a half-dozen times in 20 years. Coincidence? I don’t plan on accepting any more vaccinations. Not sure I trust them any more…

        • They use a Tdap shot now adays. It combines the tetanus shot with diptheria and whooping cough protection. Must have been one of those that gotchya. I had asked my clinician if they had just a tetanus shot and she didn’t believe so. So I skip it. I have farm animals and that’s where tetanus can live in the dirt, from what I’m told.

  • Yes, another virus to probably help to reduce the population. How about the name ‘Corona virus’ named after a beer. The Bible does say that there will disease and pestilence in the end times. I wonder if man is creating some of these and God is allowing.

    • It is small minded and ignorant of you to claim that this virus is “named after a beer”. The very article you just read explaines “The term “coronavirus” comes from its appearance. The virus is covered in spikes, giving it a crown-like appearance.” Corona as in coronation or crown! People like you should be the last people on earth to quote the bible, let alone assume what God is or isn’t allowing. Do you think your judgement day will never come? Here you are judging others while being extremely ignorant. Truly sad!

  • I wonder if other passengers were infected by the american on the plane and don,t know it.Remember he flew home before officials started to monitor and check passengers.

  • Do you really wish to be dominated by fear? Do you have a relationship and covenant with Christ? If so the enemy has no power over you (except what you give him). We haven not been given the spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind (Holy Spirit, Yeshua HaMaschiach or Jesus, and the Father). You are redeemed from the curse of the law according to Galatians 3:13. Deuteronomy 28:59-61 states: Then the Lord will make thy plagues wonderful, and the plagues of thy seed, even great plagues, and of long continuance, and sore sicknesses, and of long continuance.

    60 Moreover he will bring upon thee all the diseases of Egypt, which thou wast afraid of; and they shall cleave unto thee.

    61 Also every sickness, and every plague, which is not written in the book of this law, them will the Lord bring upon thee, until thou be destroyed.

    This is what your redeemed from IF YOU BELIEVE AND LIVE BY FAITH.
    Psalm 91:10 ROMISES, There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.

  • You do know this virus is also known as the common cold…. WebMD: Common Cold: What Is It?
    It’s an illness caused by a tiny, infectious thing called a virus. More than 200 types lead to your misery, but the most common one is the rhinovirus, which is thought to be responsible for at least 50% of colds. Other viruses that can cause colds include CORONAVIRUS, respiratory syncytial virus, influenza and parainfluenza…

  • From the reading I’ve done about it, I don’t think this is going to turn into anything too big, at least not for the U.S. Famous last words? I don’t think so.

  • During biological pathogen emergencies, I emphasize investing in reasonable countermeasures such as masks which resist bio-hazard aerosol contaminates, disposable medical apparel (DuPont Tyvek or similar), nitrile gloves as a barrier to bio-hazard materials such as feces, blood, used protective clothing and contaminated pets or individuals.

    At a more expensive level, invest in UVC germicidal lamps either LED or tube. UVC (Ultraviolet light in the C band) is not native to terrestrial Earth. Most biological materials have no natural resistance to this Ultraviolet wavelength and it destroys pathogen DNA/RNA with efficiency and it is also harmful to humans and animals as well. UVC sterilizes air and surfaces. Do not be in the same environment when using UVC germicidal equipment, eye protection is a must. It will burn your eyes just like a arc welding light will do.

    The next item is ozone fumigation generator. Ozone, which is ionized oxygen, sterilizes the air as well as gas permeable porous materials and surfaces. Ozone works very efficiently destroying virus and bacterial pathogens. You don’t want to breath ozone or ionized air as it will irritate your respiratory system. Ozone can be used to sterilize water, however, this requires specialized application. Ozone water purification is chemical free so if you are sensitive to chemical purification methods, consider ozone in conjunction with mechanical filtering methods.

    With the above mentioned equipment and using scientific isolation methods and deployment strategies, you will more than likely survive most biological pathogen attacks or emergencies.

  • This is an excellent over-view, but the virus is fast-moving and news coverage is always behind the curve. For up-to-date news, you can visit the CIDRAP website – cidrap.umn.edu which is headed by Michael Osterholm (of H5N1 pandemic fame). It also has regular updates on Ebola and other infectious diseases.

    The British press (and medical experts) are also covering the epidemic/pandemic extensively. Most of my most recent info came via TheSun.uk.co. Other coverage on the Guardian, the Daily Mail, the Telegraph, etc.

    While I haven’t seen it officially confirmed, there are reports that the city of Wuhan (pop. 11 MILLION) has been quarantined, nothing in/nothing out. Airports, bus terminals, roads closed. I don’t know how the Chinese are doing this, but as a Communist dictatorship, I’m sure they can.

    This is serious.

  • What is a healthy diet? That’s the key. And, of course, avoid decadent areas.

    Third world people are NOTORIOUS for eating anything that moves. You should not eat bottom feeders. Either land or sea.

    Or animals that “clean up” in nature.

  • Our fearless leader says it is totally under control. Meaning we don’t so take your precautions. More evidence for him to hide.

  • If it seems like China is downplaying the total number of people infected, it’s possibly that they are only reporting to the media the number of lab-confirmed cases — which is a sensible, if conservative, behavior. In the West, we like to toss around numbers of “likely” or “suspected” cases, but there’s something to be said for cold hard facts. I’m keeping an eye on the official Chinese government reports through promedmail.org (where anyone can subscribe to updates regarding infectious disease around the world for free).

  • Watched an interview with some doc from Harvard this evening. It was actually good. Hesaid that the symptoms are very similar to the flu, and that because we are in the midst of flu season, most of the precautions we normally take should be useful in avoiding this. I found it insightful, not ‘fear mongering’ .

    What concerns me more is media hype or media non-hype over these ‘new’ diseases. So how do we ‘really’ know when ‘the big one’ is out there? Are they ‘numbing us’ down, before a really virulent stream is released?

    Viruses mutate. That is a scientific fact. But considering how many of these are originiating in China, one must wonder if they aren’t doing some ‘scientific research’ with viruses that’s gotten out of control?. (Population control?)

    I’m not a ‘tin hatter’ and have a medical background. I do watch these things with concern. Free, world wild travel exposes us all to diseases we may not have immunity to. Keeping a healthy lifestyle and the usual precautions will do us all well. In a TEOTWAKI situation, even basic sanitation precautions will help. Prep for that, don’t panic.

  • According to the UK newspaper, The Guardian, 3 Chinese cities are now in lockdown and, predictably, the unprepared population is panicking because food, water, gasoline and medical supplies are disappearing. If this isn’t a warning to get your prepper-selves squared away, I don’t know what is. Daisy has a lot of helpful lists, books, and articles – check them out if you haven’t already. Share with your friends.


    Quote from the article: In Wuhan, supermarket shelves were empty and local markets sold out of produce as residents hoarded supplies and isolated themselves at home. Petrol stations were overwhelmed as drivers stocked up on fuel, exacerbated by rumours that reserves had run out. Local residents said pharmacies had sold out of face masks.

    “When I saw the news when I woke up, I felt like I was going to go crazy. This is a little too late now….”

  • CDC is estimating over 13 million cases of influenza in the US. We’re supposed to get excited about this virus in China because….?

    While I will continue to take precautions because it’s flu season, I’m not losing sleep on this one. Seems to me that they’re trying to set up a diversion from the circus now making its way through the Senate.

  • While I certainly appreciate the opportunity to review preps, this is (so far) not really much about which to get excited.

    According to the CDC, in the US, 4800 people have already died this flu season, and they estimate 80,000 died last year. Makes me wonder why no one has made a big deal out of that.

  • Cat, I live in Scottsdale and would love to learn how to use essential oils from you. When will you be doing training again? My niece and I are very interested. We could probably get a small group together… enough to justify a class. And the Prepper Group I’m a member of I’m sure would love to participate as well. Please contact me! Thanks!

  • No person is at fault, we elect somebody we believe in, we should not suffer, the white house is not a personal lawfirm for nobody but seem to work for them, let me add, dealnews.com says senior citizen discounts are disappearing, wrong, unless there dis criminalizing a senior citizen when they reach a certaint age, properly teach our children respect then we have confidence in them, we are the senior citizens, Danny

  • If you have not figured it out. The virus was released as a smoke screen for rigging the US elections….

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