As you read this, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to do what it wants to do. For many people, it’s a bit of a non-factor. It was for me for some time. After all, I actually wrote that I didn’t see the virus being likely to be that big of a deal.

I don’t think that anymore.

You see, my hometown is the epicenter of one of Georgia’s outbreaks, and that made me rethink a lot of things.

Our outbreak isn’t huge. It’s not like Seattle or Italy by any stretch of the imagination, but our county coroner believes at least three people have died from the disease here.

Here, the cases stem from a single case. Our own version of Patient Zero attended a couple of funerals. There, people were infected. They, in turn, spread it without realizing they had the pandemic virus.

We also have at least 65 confirmed cases here in town. It’s bad enough that the local hospital is running through essential supplies at a scary rate.

Phoebe Putney Health System CEO Scott Steiner told CNN that equipment at the healthcare provider’s flagship hospital in Albany, southwest Georgia, has been severely impacted by an increase in coronavirus cases.

The total number of recorded cases of Covid-19 in Georgia is now at 121. Of those, 65 patients are reported to be at the flagship Phoebe Putney hospital. At the same time, at least 115 others await test results.

According to the CNN report, Mr Putney believes that the Putney Memorial Hospital in Albany, Georgia, has five more days worth of supplies despite being prepared with six month’s worth of equipment, such as protective gear, before the coronavirus epidemic.

“We might have thought we were overprepared,” said Mr Putney. “But you just can’t believe what we went through from a supply standpoint.”

Unfortunately, since that report was filed, the number of potential cases has gone up, with as many as 380 others still awaiting test results.

One of those tested, however, is an old friend. I scrolled through my Facebook feed only to see that she was quarantined. It seems she was feeling flu-like symptoms and went to get checked. They did a flu test and it came back negative, so they did the test for COVID-19. She’s still waiting for those results.

This is someone who was a major part of my childhood. Her father and my father were police officers together. Our families spent a lot of time together over those early years of our lives. While that didn’t hold up forever, she’s still someone I’ve known for my entire life. The idea of someone I’ve known for so long having this virus…

all of this kind of made the whole thing slam into me. This is my home, for crying out loud!

Then I went to the grocery store yesterday.

Now, the worst day seems to have been this past Friday. I’ve heard stories of the insanity, but it was a Wednesday around 10:00 in the morning. How bad could it really be?

Well, bad enough.

Here are some pics I took with my phone.

Dispatches From A Deep South OutbreakDispatches From A Deep South OutbreakDispatches From A Deep South OutbreakDispatches From A Deep South OutbreakDispatches From A Deep South Outbreak

Now, to be fair, this particular Publix was also busy stocking. A stock clerk told me that despite having limited inventory, they were very busy. In other words, they didn’t have a lot of stuff, but they were putting stuff on the shelf as fast as they could.

There were also a lot of aisles that hadn’t been picked clean. Yet that last pic is the toilet paper aisle.

Well, in theory. Technically, it needs at least one roll of toilet paper to be considered a toilet paper aisle, right? There ain’t any.

All of this comes after two previous years with significant natural disasters. First, we had tornados that hammered the city–two separate storms just days apart–followed the next year by Hurricane Michael. Now, this.

So, if things are so bad at the store, why was I there? Because we weren’t nearly as stocked up as we needed to be. I’d buy up a couple of months worth of supplies, but then money would get tight. My wife would cut back on groceries because, well, that’s kind of what those preps were for, right?

Unfortunately, it eventually got to feel like beating my head against the wall. Why stock up on food when it would disappear before we could really grow it to be enough for a real emergency?

Well, now we’re in a real emergency and it’s not there.

Folks, don’t make that mistake. I knew better but didn’t feel like dying on that particular hill. I now wish I had.

When this is over and sanity returns to the world, the first thing we’re doing is buying extra. We’ll be buying more ammo and first aid supplies. We’ll be buying up all the goodies we need. We’ll start digging in for the next disaster because, at this rate, there will be a next disaster.

If you’re like me on any level, though, you should do what I’ll be doing.

While I do think sanity will return to the world sooner or later, there are a lot of other potentialities that may spin off from the pandemic. Economic disruptions, for example. Regardless, there’s no reason to be stupid.

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