Who’s Hoarding Medical Supplies?

As the CCP Coronavirus (Coronavirus) began spreading across the globe in February, Americans began receiving strange advice from the U.S. Surgeon General. Americans were told to stop “hoarding” masks because they don’t work, and medical workers need them. In addition to the Surgeon General misleading the public about the efficacy of masks, posts have been circulating around social media sites blaming “hoarders” for the lack of masks and medical equipment in American hospitals. This has raised an important question: are American “hoarders” to blame for the lack of protective equipment, or did someone else buy up medical supplies and send them out of the country?

A recent article by the Sydney Morning Herald revealed that a Chinese property developer called Risland Australia, bought up over 90 tons of medical supplies in Australia and sent them to Wuhan, China in February. This was done on multiple occasions. Another major property developer called Greenland Australia also sourced and sent large amounts of personal protective equipment (PPE) back to China from Australia in February. These were massive efforts, and drained many stores of their mask and glove supplies.

This is not only an Australian phenomenon. Organizations, businesses, and students across America began buying up massive amounts of N95 masks and other protective equipment throughout late January and early February to send back to China. Below is picture from the China General Chamber of Commerce in America (CGCC). They sourced and donated tens of thousands of dollars of supplies from cities across the United States to China. The CGCC began sourcing supplies in January.

Status update from China General Chamber of Commerce

Below is a woman buying so many boxes of N95 masks(sent to China), they barely fit in her vehicle. After her, there’s a Tweet about a man in Massachusetts who sent $5000 worth of masks and other medical supplies to China.

In addition to these individual efforts, international Chinese students wanted to help their “Motherland” by raising money, then sourcing supplies in America to send to China. Below are two students who raised over $ 50,000 to buy and send masks and needed medical equipment to China.

Similar to other efforts, these students began raising money and buying supplies as early as January. It is important to note that organizations began buying up medical supplies in January, and throughout February. Stores across America and the world began reporting shortages and increased sales throughout January and February, before many Americans realized the full potential of the CCP Coronavirus.

An article by Business Insider noted that ” US sales of medical masks soared 428% in the week ending January 25 compared with the same week a year ago.” Americans began waking up to the threat of the CCP Coronavirus in late February. By that time, massive efforts had been underway by companies, organizations, students, and citizens with strong ties to China, to buy massive quantities of medical supplies from all over the world, and send them to China.

There are many more stories of people and organizations with strong ties to China bleeding their host countries of medical supplies throughout January and February, but I cannot discuss them all here. I do not believe sending medical supplies to China is the only reason Americans and others lack sufficient amounts of PPE, but it likely contributed in a significant way. It should also be investigated in more detail.

I should also clarify, this is a difficult situation. Many Chinese nationals and companies around the world did not have bad intentions when they bought up supplies of masks and gloves. They genuinely love their country and families, and wanted to help. However, we must ask ourselves: should this type of behavior be acceptable on a such a scale during a global crisis? If a large American population in China went to Chinese stores, pharmacies, etc. to buy face masks and sent them to America during this outbreak, would this be acceptable in China? I do not think so.

Moving forward, we cannot allow strategically important supplies to be removed from our country during a crisis. We must communicate honestly as well: Americans are not “hoarding” medical supplies, many of them were sent back to China.

Coronavirus Lock-down, Houston: day 7, 3/22/2020

It is day 7 of the CCP Coronavirus lock-down in Houston, and we are all still alive, for the most part. There are now roughly 150 confirmed coronavirus cases and 2 deaths in the Houston area, and testing sights are still ramping up.

The overall feeling seems okay. I believe anxiety levels are rising among people, as many do not know when they will be able to return to work. People are also bothered by the uncertainty: not knowing how long things will last, or what the world will look like when we are finished.

Shopping centers are still being crowded, and rumors are circulating about more strict lockdwons.

Coronavirus Lock-down, Houston: Day 6 (3/21/2020)

It has been six days since the Harris county officials placed strict rules on certain business activities, but life has substantially changed.

While Houston is not in a formal lock-down, many restaurants, bars, and gyms been restricted from operating normally. Restaurants must provide drive-thru, take out, or delivery services only. This may seem like a slight inconvenience but it is having a big impact on small business. In addition to dining restrictions, business and events across the county have been cancelled and postponed.

Drive through the suburbs of Houston and its clear that life has changed. People are still out on the roads, but many strip centers are comparatively empty, unless there is a supermarket within walking distance. The grocery stores are packed everyday, and many stores in Houston, such as HEB, have changed store hours to better cope with increased traffic.

Fortunately the mood is not dire. People are able to move around, though many are not working. The mood online has been changed from curiosity to anxiety. Some are not only concerned with the duration of an imminent economic shut down, but also the possibility of people they know getting sick and dying. Luckily the Houston area has not been extremely hard.

As of yesterday there were about 105 confirmed CCP Coronavirus infections, and at least 1 death, but many are nervous about what the future holds. For now, Houstonians are showing their resilience in the face of this virus, I pray we continue to do so.

Preparation Is Not Panic

Since the coronavirus out break began in January, media coverage has been severely lacking. Media outlets in the United States appeared to publish occasional headlines of some mysterious disease afflicting people in China, but no serious warnings or analysis was widely spread.

After China decided to shut down the City of Wuhan, the province of Hubei, and then expanded the lock down to a few hundred million people, the “Western Media” still failed to grasp the size and possible danger the Coronavirus posed. In fact while still living in Taiwan, I began regularly communicating with my best friend(he watches the news everyday), he informed me that he had no idea of the lock downs happening in China. It seemed very strange that non-Asian media was failing to report on events as important as those unfolding in China.

After returning from Taiwan and self quarantining for about two weeks (back in early February), I began informing friends and family about the situation in China. Most people I interacted with had absolutely no idea what was happening, and they believed it was a problem for China not America. However, this was about to change.

As February came to a close and cases of the Coronavirus began sprouting up in America, people were being told it was “just the flu”. It seemed everyone I talked to was now aware of the virus, but the media and government officials insisted the virus was no worse than the flu. The “just the flu” propaganda was compounded with media pushing a “stop panicking” narrative. According to the mainstream media people were being tricked into “panicking”. The idea that Americans across the country were panicking was hilarious. No one was panicking. I had not encountered anyone in my local circle that cared, none of my several hundred friends on Facebook posted anything about the virus. Influential people on Twitter reiterated that no one they saw was panicking. Yet the media continued pushing the “stop panicking” narrative. In addition to my anecdotal evidence of American apathy towards the Coronavirus threat, until last week(March 2nd – 7th), people were regularly attending large gathering across the country. In fact, Americans had their heads so far in the sand, many were genuinely surprised that someone had unwittingly exposed thousands of people to the virus at CPAC, a well-known politically conservative conference.

As of this week March 8th, Americans have been divided by the “Stop panicking” media into two factions: Pro-panic and Anti-panic. Of course these options are not real, but it appears constructed to shame people who have been preparing for the virus. If you post information on social media for people to buy supplies in case of quarantine or lock-down you are encouraging people to “hoard supplies” and “spread panic”. If you wear an N95 face mask, it is because you aren’t aware “they do not work” and might “spread fear”. Meanwhile Hong Kong and Taiwan have both had very limited outbreaks as people immediately began wearing face masks and practicing social distancing.

Additionally, since many people do not want to be socially shamed, they are staying with the “anti-panic” camp for now. I believe this will continue until localized outbreaks become larger and medical facilities began expressing concern with over-capacity. Once the majority of Americans realize they have been tricked into letting their defenses down, it will be too late or hazardous for people to go out and begin stocking up on supplies for a lock down or “containment zone” .

Now it is March 10th. Most people I know in Houston still do not believe we will have a problem here. Most Americans did not believe there would be problem in America, but New York state has now issued orders to create a containment zone to “stop the spread”. Despite the fact that China, South Korea, and Italy have all instituted lock-downs and quarantine zones, Americans have largely failed to prepare for a lock down scenario.

I will emphasize that I do not believe this virus will wipe out America in some apocolyptic event. However, healthcare systems around the world are struggling and some failing to deal the with large amounts of people needing ICU support to survive. If ICUs and hospitals become too over-burdened in a short period of time, experts warn we will see an increased death rate directly from the virus, and from people unable to be treated for problem like car accidents and other illnesses.

Americans must slow the spread of Novel Coronavirus or risk a wide-spread healthcare crises. Preparation is not panic.

When You Don’t Listen To Experts

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to spread throughout the world, I have been thinking about the many experts I follow online. Twitter is a great place to find people from all walks of life, especially experts in various fields like science, medicine, finance, and more. There are types of experts that appear to be very smart, and likely are, but do not look good in worlds current situation. The experts I am referring to are “macro” and “geopolitical” experts, since the outbreak of Covdi-19 many of “macro” experts are revealing their inadequacies.

Macro experts are people that talk about macro events and policies. These people usually talk about geopolitics and economics. When talking about geopolitics they will discuss what entire “countries” are doing and what they should be doing. I put countries in quotes because these experts will use some data points or government policy to represent the entirety of a country’s actions. In many ways I have respect for some of the experts, they appear to have much more knowledge about various countries and policies than I do, but the pandemic we see spreading across the world has revealed major problems with these so-called geopolitical “experts”.

When Covid-19 began spreading across China, most of the geopolitical experts I follow were advocating that America do not shut down flights from China. These experts still do not advocate for Americans to prepare for a possible disruption. The experts only think in cost-benefit terms, usually on macro-economic levels. Therefore they do not want to see economic slow down at the behest of virus preparation. What the geopolitical experts fail to account for is uncertainty and the exponential nature of this viral outbreak.

Complexity researchers and people such as Nassim Taleb have warned since the initial outbreak that do to uncertainty and the downsides of inaction, the spread of a potentially very dangerous virus could be catastrophic. They understood that the virus spread will be non-linear, the spread will multiply exponentially if unchecked. Additionally, Taleb and others pointed to downstream effects of the outbreak, such as hospital overload and disruption. If too many people go to the hospital simultaneously, the public health system could break down and many more people could die. However this this type of thinking is not common among the geopolitical “experts” who believe the virus is merely “hyped up”.

Instead, the geopolitical experts have been touting the virus as “panic” and “hysteria”, but they could be wrong. If Taleb and complexity researchers like Joe Norman are wrong then people have prepared for a pandemic, and maybe their blood pressure was a little elevated. If the geopolitical “experts” are wrong then millions of people could die because they did not realize how dangerous the virus was.

Therefore I choose not to listen to many of these so-called “experts”. I would rather be ready and not use my preparations than need preparations and not have them.

Letting A Crisis Go To Waste

There was a famous statement made by former Major of Chicago and former Chief of Staff to President Barak Obama, Rahm Emanuel. He said “never let a serious crisis go to waste.” Though Rahm Emanual was talking about finance and politics, we now find ourselves in a pandemic crisis, and Americans squandered precious time to prepare for the incoming crisis caused by the Coronavirus.

Lock-downs on a biblical scale began taking hold of China back in January, just before Lunar New Year. At that time, many people outside of Asia did not know what was happening. In fact, even in Asia people were struggling with the reality, out of the blue sixty million people were suddenly locked into their homes over fears of catching a virus. As January came to an end, the lock-downs and quarantines spread throughout China. People in Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, and many more cities were told to stay home. Factories in most places were shut down, and schools were cancelled until further notice.

As the situation in China unfolded I was in Taiwan, but began frequently communicating with friends and family back in the United States. I continuously explained that the situation in China was very serious and people should prepare. Upon returning to the U.S. I found that most people had no idea what happening in China, and had no sense of urgency to prepare for international spread.

After several weeks the crisis in China began showing up on other countries shores, such as Taiwan, South Korea, Italy, and parts of South East Asia. At this point the world should have realized that we were in a global crisis. That was the time to seriously begin preparations, but most people let this global crisis go to waste. Instead of using other countries data and actions as an imputus to prepare, Americans simply ingnored this situation as “the flu”. Since the international crisis was wasted, Americans are now dealing with a very local one.

As of this writing, coronavirus was confirmed to have killed 9 people in in less than 5 days in America. The virus appears to continue spreading across the U.S. unencumbered as people ignore the signs of crisis. The brightest minds on multiplicative events have been warning people for weeks with little progress. Now it appears people in parts of the U.S. are beginning to panic as the virus shows up in their localities. In order to ensure this crisis does not cripple our country, Americans must take swift action to prepare to isolate for a couple weeks. At a minimum people should avoid large public gatherings. Do not spend a lot of time around a lot of people, wash your hands, and have supplies to remain in place for a bit.

So far Americans let an international crisis go to waste, let us see if we will do the same domestically.