News roundup for Tue, Dec 21, 2021

The typhoon that hit the Philippines on the 16th and 17th of this month, dubbed Rai, has killed 375 people. Scores of others are missing. Folks are short of food and fresh drinking water in the aftermath. Nearly 400,000 people fled coastal areas as the typhoon approached.

The US government is placing trade restrictions on dozens of Chinese research institutes and entities citing human rights violations and, get this, brain-control weaponry. The notice in the Federal Register does not clarify or define what brain-control weaponry is, but states that China is using (or plans on using) whatever this technology is against its own people and also against ethnic minorities in the region like the Uighurs.

The US government says now is not the time to travel to Ukraine:

Meanwhile, Russia has cut gas supplies to a very cold Europe. Why? Probably in an attempt to strong-arm the EU into accepting the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

The world has over 275.7 million COVID cases. The world has gained 4.8 million cases in the last week—global case growth is increasing. There have been nearly 5.4 million deaths in total. The US has had nearly 52 million cases. The US gained over 922,000 cases in the last seven days. Over 828,000 Americans have died during the pandemic—about 10,000 in the last week. The US gained over 107,000 new cases on Sunday, and over 114,000 by late afternoon Monday. The US, India, Brazil, the UK, and Russia have had the largest case gains today.

Take a look at how quickly a person can convert from negative on a COVID test to positive. This tells you everything you need to know about travel regulations that stipulate that a test within 48 hours is kosher (hint: it’s really not):

Here’s a helpful and timely article on how best to use rapid tests.

Omicron is showing up in wastewater all over the place, and the results show that the variant will be dominant in this country very soon. In Orange County, FL it’s already out-competing Delta.

Another anti-malarial, atovaquone, might help fight COVID. Other good news from the extant study shows that it helped against multiple variants. In vitro lab results are hopeful but we’ll have to see similar results in vivo before we get too excited.

Pfizer plans on studying more than two doses of its COVID vaccine on babies and preschoolers in the event young children will need boosters, too:

There are sporadic reports of shortages of over-the-counter COVID tests. I’ve had problems getting an adequate supply of these kinds of tests from the very start:

The court battles over Biden’s vaccine mandate continue:

The best way to be protected from Omicron is to get a booster dose of an mRNA vaccine. The US is not well protected at this point as too few people have gotten their booster:

Loss of smell/taste is not a big hallmark of Omicron:

Cruise ships are still petri dishes for COVID. If there’s anything I’ve learned in the last two years, it’s “don’t get on a cruise ship while COVID is circulating”:


    • EzlyAmuzzed

      My elderly high-risk parents are taking a cruise 2nd week of Jan, so about when Omnicron will be at its peak. I was very upset and had to argue to get them to take the booster, in the least. They finally relented because they didn’t want me mad at them which makes me feel awful but I don’t regret it.

      I am of course prepared (I hope) in case they get sick, 3 boxes of at home tests, cold medicine, zink lozenges, pulse ox monitor, extra masks, easy to eat foods and rehydration drinks. I’m probably missing something so community please advise if you can think of something 

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      • brownfox-ffContributor EzlyAmuzzed

        Based on the First Aid article , your list seems good. I’m guessing “cold medicine” includes items such as Benadryl / Imodium . Perhaps hot water bottles or a way to stay warm and comfortable?

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      • Stephanie ArnoldContributor EzlyAmuzzed

        My dad and stepmom declined the booster doses because they were tired of getting shots. I did my best to explain that Delta is a mild escape variant and that Omicron is an even stronger escape variant… They both have symptomatic COVID and my stepmom is hospitalized right now. I’m at the pray and wait phase. I don’t know how it’s going to go. I don’t like shots, either, but I prefer a shot to intubation/death. I hope this message reaches someone and helps them change their mind about a booster dose. 

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      • Hardened Stephanie Arnold

        I’m so sorry to hear that, Stephanie.  If I had a nurse for a daughter I would follow all of her medical advice!

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      • Stephanie ArnoldContributor Hardened

        Thanks, H. Yeah… I think people are just completely burned out living the pandemic life. I can understand that. I’m pretty tired of it, too. I loathe the idea of getting a shot every few months, but I’ll do it anyway. I’ve seen the alternative up close and personal. Many folks just haven’t seen the consequences with their own eyes. It makes decision-making murkier for people. Older folks also hate being told what to do. 

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      • Frank Sampson Stephanie Arnold

        I got my last shot in July, when should I get my booster?

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      • Cia Frank Sampson

        In January, six months after the second dose. I got mine Nov 22, and I’ll take my daughter to Walmart to get hers Jan 7. I told her yesterday that it was very surprising, but none of them hurt at all. Im apprehensive about reactions, I reacted to the first, but in this particular situation, I support everyone’s getting the shots. I think, despite what Fauci just said, that there will be a strain-specific vaccine in March, and we’ll get that one, too, when appropriate.

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      • Frank Sampson Cia

        Thanks for the info, I put it on my calendar to look into a booster come January. You seem knowledgeable about this topic, is dose #1, dose #2, and the booster all the exact same amount and ingredients? Or is there a special vial for booster shots that is different than the original doses I got?

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      • EzlyAmuzzed Frank Sampson

        Frank, shot 1 and 2 are the same. The booster is same ingredients but smaller dose if you get Moderna or Pfizer. J&J second dose I believe is the same amount as 1st but maybe Stephanie can confirm.
        The shot itself didn’t hurt but arm hurt for about a day. I felt a little fatigued but that’s it.

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      • Frank Sampson EzlyAmuzzed

        Thank you, good to know the booster is a smaller dose.

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      • Eric Frank Sampson

        Some minor corrections:

        1) Only Moderna uses a smaller dosage for the booster. Other brands use the same dosage for both the primary and booster shots.

        2) J&J has completely different rules. So anyone who got J&J should ask separately for advice on boosters.

        3) Immunocompromised people are eligible for a fourth shot. That includes people with cancer, HIV, transplants, and immunosuppressant drugs.

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      • Cia Eric

        For JnJ, the recommendation is to cut and run. Get an mRNA vaccine two months after your only dose of JnJ, and another dose of mRNA six months after that.

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      • Cia Frank Sampson


        The third dose is the same as the first ones for Pfizer and JnJ. Pfizer is 30mcg each dose. Moderna’s first two are 100mcg, but it was a very reactive vaccine, and they halved the volume to 50mcg for the third dose, hoping to reduce reactions. They are giving the original 100 mcg as a third dose to immunocompromised people. It has turned out now that Moderna seems to be more effective than Pfizer, and way more effective than JnJ. The increased tendency to cause adverse reactions goes hand in hand with its superior effectiveness. They now report that Moderna prevents hospitalization better than Pfizer does. You can mix and match as you like for the third dose. I decided to switch from Pfizer to Moderna. The staff at the Walmart where I got it said that no one they had given a third dose to in the previous two months had switched to a different brand, which surprised me. They didn’t enter it on my original vaccination card, but said they had to give me a new one. I got it and had no discernible reaction. Moderna is now thinking that with Omicron here now, that they may have made a mistake in reducing the dosage for most people

        Which brand did you get?

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      • Frank Sampson Cia

        I got the pfizer one like you did for my first two. Thanks for sharing your information.

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      • EzlyAmuzzed Stephanie Arnold

        Oh gosh I’m so sorry to hear that! I am hoping for the best for them.

        btw sorry for accidentally hitting the report button, on my cell so it was small

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      • Stephanie ArnoldContributor EzlyAmuzzed

        No worries. I’ve done that a number of times, too.

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      • River Stephanie Arnold

        Sending recovery vibes to your dad and stepmom. 

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      • Stephanie ArnoldContributor River

        Thank you, appreciate it. 

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      • Frank Sampson EzlyAmuzzed

        Have plenty of cleaning products if you live with someone to wipe down surfaces. Don’t use the same bedding, towels, dishes, door handles, etc… Have some N95’s for yourself and your family member taking care of you. 

        And most importantly, make sure the Netflix subscription is active, you’ll have 10+ days on there.

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      • EzlyAmuzzed Frank Sampson

        Frank, thankfully my parents don’t live with us, but you are right prepping for someone else in the household being sick when you aren’t is an extra level of prepping. For my husband and I we are ready if one us us to be sick, that person stays in the camper. 

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    • Sbesch

      Hi Stephanie – at what point would it make sense to start tracking COVID stats simply as a “percentage of deaths per identified cases”? It seems a foregone conclusion that COVID will become endemic, and nobody’s still reporting total counts for influenza infection rates and deaths rates since the first reported case of the flu way-back-when. The case counts and death counts will surely just continue to rise – to the point that the numbers no longer represent any useful metric gauging the actual danger posed by the disease. On the other hand, as more cases (proportionally) arise within vaccinated populations and treatments become more effective, the mortality rate of the disease should steadily decrease until it’s on par (or even below, if we’re lucky) that of the flu. But, if we never make the transition away from simply tracking total counts for infections and deaths, we may not even recognize when we’ve reached that point. If the infection rates continue to rise, does it really matter that much if the mortality rate is simultaneously plummeting? If another variant that’s more deadly gets a foothold, mortality rates might climb astronomically even if overall infection rates are declining at that time. Adding a reference to mortality rates into your bi-weekly recap of the stats might prove incredibly useful in either case (tempering fear and/or warning of a novel risk). Just a suggestion. I appreciate the great work you do with these blog posts – they’re the best one-stop-shop for “preparedness awareness” anywhere on the web!

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      • Stephanie ArnoldContributor Sbesch

        Case fatality rates are good stats, but they’re only accurate if you’ve captured all the data you need. You can get decent CFRs from hospitals because it’s known deaths over known positive cases. Not all hospitals release that data publicly. When it comes to community/population statistics, the US is not testing comprehensively enough to have an accurate “known positive cases.” There are estimates of CFR and IFR out there, but you have to know they’re estimates. The CFR also varies with age and sex, and it varies by variant. Here’s a breakdown of CFR by age group in China (this link has many other estimated CFRs as well):

        Age (deaths/cases)                CFR (95% CI)
        ≤ 9 years   (0/416)                       0%
        10 to 19 years (1/549)                 0.18%   (0.03 to 1.02%)
        20 to 49  years (63/19790)          0.32% (0.25% to 0.41%)
        50 to 59 years (130/10,008)        1.3%  (1.1% to 1.5%)
        60 to 69 years (309/8583)           3.6% (3.2% to 4.0%)
        70 to 79 years (312/3918)           8.0% (7.2% to 8.9%)
        ≥80 years (208/1408)                 14.8% (13.0% to 16.7%)

        Total CFR in China at that time was over 2%. With vaccination the CFR is less than 2% in most places.

        Edit: the reason I’m not tracking CFR is that it’s been relatively static at less than 2% for quite some time. 

        Edit edit: here’s a helpful dashboard

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    • brownfox-ffContributor

      What you can do about it:

      Think about other free actions you can take:

      • Read a book
      • Meditate
      • Review your gear
      • Take inventory
      • Clean out one room, or one type of clutter from your living space (e.g. paper? old clothes?)
      • Learn or practice one recipe for food you like to eat
      • Have a meal with no power – practice using your candles, lanterns, LEDs, or other sources of heat and light to eat a meal. Perhaps make it a fun family routine
      • Reach out to those you care about – friends, family, or neighbours. How are they doing? Often just connecting and talking helps to lift spirits.
      • Ensure you know which radio station(s) to tune in to for warning alerts
      • Celebrate small wins
      • Take a deep breath
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      • brownfox-ffContributor brownfox-ff

        Last week’s post seemed light on activities that are free, cheap, or easy to do. I have tried to add some specific free activities that help.

        What are your favourite free/cheap/easy activities to get prepared? Perhaps this would make a good forum topic.

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      • EzlyAmuzzed brownfox-ff

        A free prepping activity I have never seen listed, if your insurance uses Teledoc, set it up on your phone. If you are not sure if your insurance uses it, you can still download and you can then select from insurance companies. Great for when you have minor infections or other small issues but want to avoid the Urgent Care petri dish. Especially useful if you are too sick to get out of bed or are travelling.

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      • Gideon ParkerStaff brownfox-ff

        There is an old forum post called: The thrifty prepper – how to stretch the prepping budget

        Always good to look for free or cheap things we can do so we can always be working on prepping even when money is tight.

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      • brownfox-ffContributor Gideon Parker

        >There is an old forum post called: The thrifty prepper – how to stretch the prepping budget

        Fantastic – thanks for digging this up Gideon!

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      • Cat L brownfox-ff

        As the weather has gotten colder and I’m outside less I find myself watching quite a bit of bush crafting and baking YouTube channels; namely ones that teach knots, how to light a fire, bake bread (both on a campfire and in an oven). Things like that. I can’t practice fire lighting in my house obviously but I have been practicing knots and baking. I suppose that’s not 100% free as I pay for internet but it’s cheaper than a lot of things.

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      • Gideon ParkerStaff Cat L

        Now that you have been studying knots, what do you think about the three recommended knots on The Prepared’s Best survival knots every prepper should learn article? 

        #1 Bowline
        #2 Double Sheet Bend
        #3 Halter Hitch

        Would you add or change any?

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      • Cat L Gideon Parker

        The bowline is the first one I learned and I have also been practicing the trucker’s hitch and good old clove hitch (which I recall learning in Girl Scouts as a kid). I’ve also been practicing how to use lashing to create a tripod with branches (which I see is included in the link you suggested). Thank you for that link – I will move on to the double sheet bend and halter hitch next! I think the more knots I know the better. Now the trick is to keep practicing them regularly because I don’t seem to use them in my every day life (with the exception of the bowline and truckers hitch while camping).

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      • brownfox-ffContributor Cat L

        Hey Cat – excellent suggestion. Thank you for the reminder about tying knots. Definitely a great, free activity. Baking also.

        This prompts me to browse through the guides page, which has other activities like sharpening knives, fishing, and reading map and compass. Thanks for the reminder.

        If you have any favourite recipes that might make a great forum post also. I see we have a topic on baking without an oven.

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      • Sbesch brownfox-ff

        Nice list, as always, Brown Fox.  Another recommendation I’d add for weather-related emergencies would be a weather alert radio.  Lots of lists include a radio that picks up weather bands, but they’re only effective if you’re actively monitoring those bands (and who stays awake all night to do that?).  If you live anywhere that severe weather could threaten you and your family, a radio with an effective alert system (i.e., that will wake you up in the middle of the night if a tornado is approaching) is critical.  I personally like the Sangean CL-100 – it’s not cheap, but it has important programming features that let you dial alerts in for your immediate area and screen out false alarms (the biggest reason people often turn off their alert systems – like pulling the batteries from their smoke detectors).  It’s the best $60 you’ll ever spend if it gives you enough warning to get to your storm shelter or safe room.

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    • M. E.Contributor

      I am very curious about the stats related to people who supposedly didn’t get their second shot, or who supposedly didn’t get their booster. Just in my small circle of friends I know a good half dozen people who got boosted before it was “official” advice. And the only way to do that was to go to a different system and pretend it was your first shot. So, for example, someone who got two Pfizer shots, then went in and got boosted with Moderna, but said that it was their first shot so they could get their Moderna.

      That means the person was reported as both not getting boosted (since no third ‘official’ Pfizer shot) and not getting their second Moderna shot. 

      My circle of friends might just be a bunch of rebels (likely), so perhaps not representative. But if lots of people did that, it would certainly throw off the stats. If ya gotta be a rebel, at least be a boosted rebel. 

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