Williamsburg, Brooklyn, March 14th, 2020
I stood there staring at the oddness of the bare freezers at Wholefoods and snapped a photo.
I sent a text to a friend of mine in Law Enforcement. He is in a leadership position.
"How are you doing, brother? NYC is starting to feel a little apocalyptic."
I sent the photo to him. He was in Texas, and Covid cases there and elsewhere in the Country were still low. I had been concerned that my colleagues in law enforcement and emergency management were not getting a good read on the seriousness of the situation. New York was already emerging as an epicenter. It seemed to provide a forewarning that a global emergency was on the way.
Besides one or two bags of frozen fruit and some bottles of E3Live, there was just space between the metal shelves. It was eerie.
A few moments later, he replied, "Hey brother! Doing well. Unbelievable."
President Trump had declared a National Emergency, and the House had passed a coronavirus bill the day before. The new designation allowed for $50 billion in additional funding for response teams to mitigate the efforts of Covid-19. At the time, there were 2,100 confirmed cases in the U.S. and 37 deaths. The President called for hospitals across the Country to activate their emergency preparedness plans but believed that the crisis would pass quickly. He disputed claims that the virus was substantially more dangerous than the flu.
People had begun to stockpile groceries and household items, and most pharmacies had sold out of cold and flu medications. Fights were breaking out in stores over toilet paper. Although there had been no reports that diarrhea was a symptom of Covid-19, not knowing what to expect, people were buying extra toilet paper as part of their preparation efforts.
Apple CEO Tim Cook stated that the "most effective way to minimize the risk" of transmission was to "reduce density and maximize social distance." Cook announced that Apple would close all of its retail stores "outside of Greater China" for two weeks.
New Zealand prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, enacted strict coronavirus travel measures. Ardern said New Zealand "will have the widest-ranging and toughest border restrictions of any country in the world" with "no apologies." President Trump suspended flights to the U.S. from Europe.
In January, I had started preparation efforts after a friend alerted me to a medical issue in China. I have built up a strong network of trusted colleagues and friends worldwide, and they have learned to mention anything out of the ordinary to me, and I do the same for them. I followed the unfolding story closely and became concerned that we were heading towards an international crisis.