COVID-19

On this page: Updates for BC | Cana­di­an Prep­ping and Resources | Amer­i­can Prep­ping and Resources | DIY Projects That Can Save Lives | COVID-19 Sci­ence

This page is cur­rent­ly under con­struc­tion and will be updat­ed on a reg­u­lar basis once it has been com­plet­ed.

Updates for British Columbia

Feel­ing Ill? Are You Infect­ed? Please vis­it this page (link) for BC’s COVID-19 self-assess­ment tool. If you meet the cri­te­ria for fur­ther assis­tance, phone 811 to speak with a pub­lic health nurse. They will guide you through your next steps, includ­ing book­ing any swabs or blood tests. DO NOT vis­it your fam­i­ly doc­tor’s office, any walk-in clin­ics, or any hos­pi­tal’s emer­gency room unless you have been specif­i­cal­ly direct­ed to do so by a health­care pro­fes­sion­al from that facil­i­ty. Always call ahead when set­ting up test­ing, as COVID-19 requires spe­cial han­dling and con­tain­ment. Do not go out in pub­lic with­out wear­ing a mask.

Inter­na­tion­al Trav­ellers: if you go out­side of BC, you must com­plete a 14-day iso­la­tion upon return­ing (link). You can sub­mit an iso­la­tion plan online via the BC Trav­el Screen­ing web­site (link), or via the PDF form (link).

Vul­ner­a­ble Pop­u­la­tions: this page (link) con­tains infor­ma­tion for pri­or­i­ty pop­u­la­tions whose well-being is at greater risk from the nov­el coro­n­avirus.

Region­al Case Loads: you can view BC’s COVID-19 pan­dem­ic page here (link) includ­ing CSV files for data export, and you can also see the graph­i­cal dash­board here (link) for region­al infor­ma­tion. The dash­board reflects the real-time num­bers of all indi­vid­u­als report­ed, hos­pi­tal­ized, and recov­ered.

Provin­cial COVID-19 Plan: the BC Response Plan page (link) con­tains details on BC’s broad­er response includ­ing social plan­ning, finan­cial assis­tance, and reopen­ing the econ­o­my.

Fer­ry Access: you can view the ongo­ing COVID-19 action plan at BC Fer­ries’ trav­el advi­so­ry page (link). There is a grad­ual rein­tro­duc­tion of more fre­quent sail­ings under­way; there aren’t as many trips as pre-pan­dem­ic ser­vice lev­els per­mit­ted, but con­di­tions have improved con­sid­er­ably since April. Per the require­ments of Trans­port Cana­da, face cov­er­ings, phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing, and pas­sen­ger screen­ings are cur­rent­ly in effect.

Cur­rent sail­ing sched­ules are avail­able via the BC Fer­ries web­site (link). I’ve linked the mobile ver­sion for quick­er access.

City Tran­sit: in accor­dance with the BC Tran­sit mea­sures (link), sys­tems are now per­form­ing nor­mal fare col­lec­tion with reduced pas­sen­ger capac­i­ty on bus­es and plas­tic shields in place to pro­tect dri­vers. Social dis­tanc­ing and face masks are still advised. Reduced vehi­cle capac­i­ty is still in effect and rid­ers may expe­ri­ence pass-ups dur­ing busy hours if bus­es have reached capac­i­ty. To avoid miss­ing a trip, it’s best to plan two bus­es ahead of the antic­i­pat­ed board­ing time. Night runs are still rel­a­tive­ly qui­et.

Real-time track­ing is avail­able on the BC Tran­sit web­site (link). Open the site, select your local tran­sit sys­tem, click Nex­tRide, and pick the route you want. On mobile devices, it’s rec­om­mend­ed that you book­mark the site via your home screen for faster access (I rec­om­mend this). Track­ing lag time (the dif­fer­ence between a vehi­cle’s phys­i­cal loca­tion and its loca­tion on the online map) typ­i­cal­ly ranges between 5 and 30 sec­onds.

Please note that dur­ing emer­gen­cies, as we saw dur­ing the ear­ly weeks of the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic, apps and phone-based ser­vices may break. Most oper­a­tors are still using the sched­ules seen in the last pub­lished ver­sion of their local Rid­er’s Guide. In most areas, you can down­load the Guide in PDF for­mat from the BC Tran­sit site, under Sched­ules and Maps.

Spe­cif­ic to Vic­to­ria and the CRD, the region’s Guide was de-list­ed from the BC Tran­sit web­site dur­ing the spring of 2020, how­ev­er route times from the last pub­lished edi­tion still appear to be in force. It’s worth hold­ing onto the file if you still have a copy. (As some­one who has one, I’ll post updates about this as things evolve.)

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Canadian Pandemic Prepping and Resources

As a glob­al emer­gency, COVID-19 will con­tin­ue to cause nation­al and inter­na­tion­al sup­ply chain shocks. It’s time to get ready for more prod­uct short­ages, rationing, and price fluc­tu­a­tions. PPE and oth­er mis­sion-crit­i­cal items might be unavail­able through your reg­u­lar chan­nels for an extend­ed peri­od of time, rang­ing from a few weeks to a few years. Major dis­rup­tions due to infec­tion con­trols and pub­lic health orders will con­tin­ue to affect all areas of our com­mu­ni­ties and lifestyles. The time to make an emer­gency plan is now. Only by plan­ning ahead of the curve can we more effec­tive­ly flat­ten the curve.

1. Finan­cial Health: your top pri­or­i­ty should be assur­ing income sta­bil­i­ty. If your job is not yet at risk, speak with your employ­er and find out what their con­tin­gency plans would be if work-from-home or oth­er dis­rup­tive mea­sures are required at a lat­er date. Make sure you obtain the nec­es­sary tools and resources as soon as pos­si­ble so you have the capac­i­ty to meet those guide­lines. The worst time to shop for any­thing is after the ROE slip drops. Get your­self on sol­id ground ahead of time.

If you’ve been laid off or had your hours reduced due to COVID-19, you can apply for Canada’s CERB via the CRA (link) as this process is cur­rent­ly more stream­lined than the EI path­way. Addi­tion­al ben­e­fits may be avail­able at the provin­cial lev­el for BC (link), AB (link), SK (link), MB (link), ON (link), QC (link), NB (link), NS (link), NL (link), PE (link), YT (link), NT (link), and NU (link). Always ver­i­fy your eli­gi­bil­i­ty before apply­ing, and ensure you put aside at least 20% of monies issued, as these ben­e­fits are tax­able by the CRA. Fur­ther­more, be aware that these are mere­ly income replace­ment options for work­ers, they’re not free mon­ey or uni­ver­sal ben­e­fits.

For mort­gage hold­ers in per­il, a nation­al defer­ral pro­gram is avail­able in Cana­da via the CMHC (link) and insti­tu­tion-spe­cif­ic ini­tia­tives through CIBC (link), TD (link), RBC (link), and Sco­tia (link). There may also be options at small­er finan­cial insti­tu­tions; your best bet is to call around.

Min­i­mize oblig­a­tions and prune down dis­cre­tionary spend­ing in order to start putting mon­ey into a per­son­al emer­gency fund. If it’s ‘fun mon­ey’ then it’s best saved or used to elim­i­nate debt. Pay off your cred­it cards, restruc­ture spend­ing to avoid car­ry­ing a month­ly bal­ance, and thor­ough­ly assess any long-term debts you have (vehi­cle loans, home mort­gages, stu­dent loans).

No mat­ter what your sit­u­a­tion looks like, con­tact cred­i­tors and learn their con­tin­gency plans for COVID-19. Even if you’re doing fine and mak­ing all of your pay­ments on time, it’s good to have the infor­ma­tion in case cir­cum­stances change. You don’t want to be stuck doing this research in the mid­dle of a job loss induced pan­ic. Be ready for a worst case sce­nario, even if it does­n’t come to pass.

2. Home Readi­ness: con­tact util­i­ty ser­vice providers and make sure you’re get­ting the best val­ue for your cur­rent and future needs. Off-peak elec­tric­i­ty dis­counts and ener­gy self-assess­ments can be par­tic­u­lar­ly help­ful. Fin­ish any ener­gy-sav­ing repairs you may have been putting off, but avoid any major ren­o­va­tions that aren’t need­ed for struc­tur­al safe­ty. If you have a sep­tic field or water well, make sure it’s run­ning smooth­ly. Tech­ni­cians and trades­peo­ple have become sig­nif­i­cant­ly more dif­fi­cult to access as a result of COVID-19, and this could wors­en in the next wave of the pan­dem­ic. Call around and learn your ser­vice providers’ COVID-19 plans. Keep this infor­ma­tion in an acces­si­ble place.

This is also a good time to re-eval­u­ate month­ly sub­scrip­tions: a 25-megabit Inter­net con­nec­tion is more than enough for brows­ing and stream­ing, cable TV is a lux­u­ry if not also a bit of an anachro­nism these days, and that gym mem­ber­ship you haven’t used in three months should def­i­nite­ly be can­celled. Save mon­ey where there’s an oppor­tu­ni­ty to save it! Don’t for­get to call your phone provider and explore options to reduce costs. You can save hun­dreds of dol­lars per year by prun­ing some plans to the basics, and as long as you’ve ensured you’re not being pulled into a con­tract that makes you pay more lat­er, all of these sav­ings add up quick­ly and can be divert­ed to your emer­gency fund. As before, don’t touch the mon­ey once it’s been saved.

Also, don’t for­get to beef up secu­ri­ty on the home­front (link). The dis­rup­tions of the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic have led to major changes in crime dynam­ics, includ­ing a spike in prop­er­ty crimes as well as few­er police offi­cers avail­able to respond due to work­force infec­tions. Pre­vent­ing prop­er­ty crime helps our first respon­ders.

3. A Sup­ply Stash: gro­cery store buy­ing habits should be your next tar­get, as sig­nif­i­cant changes can help you assure food sta­bil­i­ty and mon­ey sav­ings dur­ing tem­po­rary short­ages and price spikes. Keep at least a one-month stock of food, bak­ing prod­ucts, canned/dry goods, and house­hold supplies/cleaners on hand at all times, and most impor­tant­ly, make these prepa­ra­tions as far in advance as pos­si­ble. Don’t let your­self get burned by pan­ic pur­chas­ing or band­wag­on trends.

Ide­al­ly, you should be suf­fi­cient­ly pre­pared that your house­hold can sur­vive an entire month with­out any­one leav­ing the home for any kind of shop­ping trip. If you can man­age this, your fam­i­ly will be in a safer posi­tion over­all.

4. Online Shop­ping: buy­ing stuff on the Inter­net has become far more preva­lent in Cana­da in the wake of COVID-19, and not with­out good rea­son. The less you need to leave home, the low­er your risk of con­tract­ing the nov­el coro­n­avirus. The best way to man­age online shop­ping is to set up a sin­gle low-lim­it cred­it card for the sites you’ll be using, then han­dle the card pay­ments man­u­al­ly through your online bank­ing inter­face.

Keep a strong aware­ness and firm con­trol over any spend­ing, you don’t want to run a month­ly cred­it bal­ance or get hit with inter­est. Using a cred­it card instead of a deb­it card pro­vides a stronger lev­el of fraud pro­tec­tion than finan­cial insti­tu­tions have on check­ing and sav­ings accounts alone, plus the fact your sav­ings are insu­lat­ed from your spend­ing means less risk in the event of a major data breach. If you’re new to online shop­ping, it’s espe­cial­ly impor­tant that you use these mea­sures from the start.

Deliv­ery has changed, too: Cana­da Post’s new ‘knock, drop, run’ par­cel pro­to­cols are now in effect (link). Make sure your front door is a secure spot to receive online deliv­er­ies; alter­nate­ly, you can make accom­mo­da­tions to hold parcels at the post office or use a post office box.

Last but not least, under­stand that online shop­ping is anoth­er aspect of pan­dem­ic life where plan­ning ahead isn’t mere­ly help­ful, it’s essen­tial. The huge shift in Cana­di­an con­sumer behav­iour since COVID-19 has result­ed in con­stant ‘Christ­mas sea­son’ mail vol­umes and deliv­ery delays. Even if you’re an Ama­zon or IKEA cus­tomer, be pre­pared — it will hap­pen. Place your orders sev­er­al weeks ahead of your needs if you know you’ll def­i­nite­ly be buy­ing items on your wish­list. Peace of mind is price­less.

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American Pandemic Prepping and Resources

[future entry]

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DIY Projects That Can Save Lives

[future entry]

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COVID-19 Science

[future entry]

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