Letter Re: The CDC’s New “Five Categories” for Pandemic Severity

Mr. Rawles,
Given the unique nature of a flu pandemic, (or a “biological” attack), how would one assemble their retreat group after possible outbreak in one’s immediate area, (within 50 miles) with confidence? The vehicle alone that they travel in could be laden with contamination and the door handles become a scary transmission device. Seeing is believing, invisible is invisible.
“To Group or not to Group?”, that is the question. – The Wanderer

JWR Replies: There is no way to be certain to avoid exposure if an influenza outbreak is in close proximity. But odds are that the first outbreaks will be in distant regions. That will be the time to act. I’ve done consulting work for members of three different retreat groups in recent months, and all three had essentially the same concept of operation: If there is news of an outbreak of a rapidly spreading human-to-human (“H2H“) flu strain anywhere on the planet, they plan to send out an alert (via e-mail/phone tree), meet up, lock their gates, and hunker down. One group mentioned a 24 hour deadline. The other two groups quoted 36 hours. Nobody will be allowed in after those deadlines. One of these retreat groups plans a novel procedure for any group members that who get delayed and arrive after their deadline: They will be forced to “quarantine camp” on adjoining National Forest land for two weeks, to establish whether or not were infected. With all seriousness, one of the group members that I interviewed said, “If they start getting sick, we’ll say say prayers for them–from quite a distance–and then we’ll toss them some Sambucol and a shovel.”