atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#7067: So, what's the next step?

I'm wondering now how long it'll be before they declare a general quarantine.

Having bought a good hunk of chuck roast today I put it with the usual other ingredients into the crock pot; and realized that I have like two onions and no carrots or potatos on hand. So I expect that in a bit, I'll go take a shower, then go to the store for carrots and onions and potatos, and perhaps a couple more sixers of pepsi and mountain dew. And, depending on how I feel about it, hit WalMart for my pills.

Nothing more than usual. I know that no one is going to have bread; but the only reason I would go today rather than waiting until tomorrow is that I don't know what our government is doing nor what it's planning to do next, and I don't want to be caught completely flat-footed by a general quarantine. I don't think things are nearly bad enough to warrant that, but I was also thinking things weren't bad enough for the fat, tax-dodging sloven to declare that all of Illinoistan's schools would close until the end of March.

I'm hoping to be able to buy a couple--two, not six or eighteen--loaves of bread tomorrow. Even two is double what I would normally buy; I get maybe five, six days out of a loaf, but bread also gets moldy, and pretty fast, so I don't stockpile it. I don't know why other people do. What do they do, freeze it? Blech!

All of this over a viral rhinitis strain that's moderately worse than the usual one.

Meanwhile: at my offsite visit to the further facility--one is a round trip of twenty miles and the other is a round trip of forty, almost exactly--I heard the management there talking about their preparations for various scenarios. Their meeting had ended, but they were standing in the office of one of them that's opposite the training conference room (which is my usual base of operations there) and discussing it, and they were talking about the very real possibility of having to shut down operations entirely if a plant in Texas had to shut down. Further, one of them had a phone conversation in which he told the other party that if some person or another was sick, that he was to stay home, no ifs, ands, or buts.

Me: Wow.

I have no doubt that similar discussions are taking place at my home facility, but I have not been privy to any of the output from them. I'm supposed to get gloves and wipes but haven't.

I don't know what the plans are if someone at a facility gets sick with the thing. They make useful things at these plants, things which other plants need to make what they make; you can't just shut one of them down because someone got the sniffles. (See above about the plant in Texas.) It's not like this is the Classical Languages department at a university; those people can do almost everything via computer, and even if they couldn't, having to sit at home for a month isn't really all that much of a problem. But when your plant makes an essential ingredient in, say, toothpaste, then the plant that makes the toothpaste cannot make their product without the stuff your plant makes. And getting a substitute supply on short notice? Ha! Just hanging around the periphery at this place, I've seen what happens when someone decides they want to buy a carload of your product.

This isn't like retail, where you put a few more people on to handle a rush of customers. You need to have a spare reactor vessel that's ready for the process, which is equipped to handle it and its reagents. All the stuff coming in and going out is doing so in industrial quantities, and some of it has to be stored before it can be used. None of it is stuff you keep extra on hand for, "just in case we need it," because that costs a lot of money. So you need to coordinate with your suppliers to get more of the stuff, and you need to have the production capacity to handle the extra output, and-and-and. It takes organization and it takes lead time.

If so-and-so says, "Hey, sell us 80,000 gallons of XYZ compound so we can see how we like it," that's a big deal. It's not a couple of extra guys working overtime in a different department.

But even if you do pull that trigger, you can't shut the thing off overnight. Some of this stuff will go bad if it's just left in the reactor. Some of it can be held indefinitely without trouble. But generally it's better to finish whatever you're doing, put it into the appropriate storage tank, and then hit the "off" button. That takes time.

Now, multiply that across all the industry in the state. That's why I don't think a general quarantine is very likely; that represents an enormous cost, not just to industry but to the state government itself, because all economic activity is taxed. But before Friday, I was prepared to say that--absent a serious threat--schools would not be closed, for pretty much the same reason: they get money from the federal government when butts are in seats.

The outbreaks in Illinostan, so far, have been limited and narrow in scope, and only one of them involved a school. But reportedly, our fatass governor is considering a total shutdown of bars and restaurants. There are now 66 cases in Illinoistan, spread across the state, most in Cook County; a week ago it was about a third that much.

So, what do you do? Which way do you jump? There's no way to predict what happens next but I'd wager that Pritzker will close the restaurants and bars, which means I'm going to have to cook more--and which means I'd better go to the store and buy carrots and onions and potatos, and maybe some more chicken. *sigh*

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