Greetings Everyday Spy,
As we continue toward the peak of the Coronavirus outbreak, I received some interesting news.
It turns out that I have been identified as ‘essential personnel.’
After spending nearly two decades serving with CIA and the US Air Force, I am familiar with working in the middle of a crisis. But this is the first time that I have ever deemed essential to the well-being of a FOREIGN GOVERNMENT!
Like many of you all over the world, being deemed essential in the fight against COVID19 comes with certain risks:
- You risk becoming infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus yourself.
- You risk spreading Coronavirus between your place of business and other places you travel.
- You risk bringing COVID19 into your own home.
Even in the middle of this global emergency, hospitals have to keep helping; businesses have to keep running; people have to keep working.
We are human beings. We are the top of the evolutionary food chain.
We survived ice ages, stone ages, and the worst disasters mother nature has thrown at us.
We will survive Coronavirus – and we will come out of it stronger than when we started.
One of the ways our world is adapting right now is through our growing focus on personal health and safety.
Simple hygiene has taken center stage in the fight to stop COVID19: washing hands, covering coughs, focused cleaning. The whole world is learning more about the power of the human immune system and common chronic health conditions that suppress it.
We are even getting back to nature as we rediscover the connection between stress and illness, anxiety and immunity.
People everywhere are working together to limit the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its ability to reach our loved ones.
I’ve seen this type of collaboration before.
Where people of mixed backgrounds, varied education levels, and conflicting beliefs cooperate to overcome a viral outbreak.
It happens more often than you think.
Because it happens in remote forward operating camps, secret bases, and mobile command centers all over the world. And when a covert location with a handful of elite operators is exposed to a pathogen, fighting the pathogen becomes the most important aspect of the mission.
Tactical units facing long-term deployment are trained to fight microorganisms the same way we fight armed bad guys.
Find. Neutralize. Maintain.
It may sound simple, but the first step to ‘find’ your enemy becomes extremely difficult when they are microscopic. And the last thing you want is to have the enemy infiltrate your safehouse.
There are three ways Coronavirus can enter your house:
- External contamination
- Cross contamination
Let’s talk about how the virus tries to get in and how you can keep it out!
Despite being the most obvious, self-contamination is still the leading cause of spreading illness.
More than 50% of viral infection worldwide is self inflicted. Even medical professionals show a 42% failure rate in following practices that prevent self-contamination.
People are sadly prone to infecting themselves with outside pathogens.
Harmless habits like rubbing your eyes, picking your teeth, or licking your lips can have catastrophic effects when there is a viral pathogen on your skin.
While human skin is a naturally hostile surface for Coronavirus, it is also a super highway to all the places SARS-CoV-2 wants to go: mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, and mouth. For those of us traveling in and out of the home right now, self-contamination is our greatest risk.
Man-made surfaces allow Coronavirus to sit-in-wait for days at a time until a human host brushes past. Most professional work settings are packed with stainless steel, glass, and plastic surfaces that can harbor SARS-CoV-2. Each of those smooth surfaces, from desktop to laptop, is an easy place for Coronovirus to survive.
It only takes a second to touch a viral surface, walk away, and then mindlessly bite a nail or rub your eye.
And once Coronavirus reaches a mucous membrane, your body’s immune system has to take over.
Self-contamination not only poses a risk to you, but also to everyone in your household. If you can keep yourself contamination free, your entire home will benefit.
There is no time like the present to stop all those secret habits you have that involve picking, licking, or chewing!
The fastest way to spread a virus and increase the odds of rapid infection is through external contamination.
Florida has been home to my family for the last five years. And while Florida has some of the world’s most beautiful beaches, it is also home to a nasty little seed pod called a ‘sandspur.’
Sandspurs resemble tiny balls with hooks and needles all around them. And they stick to everything, from skin to fabric.
They travel easily from surface to surface, sticking themselves everywhere they go. These little buggers survive on external contamination.
External contamination happens when a virus travels from one surface to another using an unwitting agent.
That agent can be your hand, your car keys, your water bottle, or even your household tissue box. The virus is transferred from place to place, living on each surface until it is carried to another surface.
In this way, a concentration of virus in one place can quickly be spread all over a home, office, or room.
When I served in the Nuclear Missile fields of Montana we had a secret ‘home’ that sat at the surface of each launch control capsule.
This building housed a few military police officers, a cook, and a couple of support people who took care of us while we sat underground with launch keys around our necks. Anytime flu season hit, the upstairs crew always took a beating.
We discovered that the virus spread quickly because high-use surfaces like door knobs, refrigerator handles, and microwave buttons were not cleaned regularly.
Because everyone in the building would come in contact with these common-use surfaces multiple times a day, the virus could spread in a matter of hours. And when crews would rotate, incoming crews would touch all the same surfaces.
It is easy to mistake being clean with being sanitized.
All the vacuuming, scouring, and disinfecting in the world won’t keep you safe if high-use surfaces get overlooked.
I included a roadmap below of high-use household items where external contamination can hide Coronavirus in your house.
Give these places a quick cleanse daily and your family will keep the virus out.
This is the form of contamination that has people the most scared; where one person directly infects another person.
Cross contamination can happen whether you are infected or not. Sick people can spread SARS-CoV-2 through viral shed, fluid transfer, and even through the air. But healthy people can also spread the virus by touching an infected surface and then touching another person’s hand or face.
The average human touches their face once every 2-3 minutes.
At home, it’s not just our own face we have to worry about.
Lovers touch each other’s hands and face; parents touch their children’s face; and everyone in a loving household is sure to hold hands.
From playful wrestling to feeding infants, hand-to-face and body-to-face contact is one of the things that makes having a family so great. But it is also a way for Coronavirus to infiltrate a home.
The way to prevent cross-contamination is through routine.
If you travel out of the home right now, then build a routine to decontaminate each day when you come back from work.
- Don’t drop your wallet, keys, and water bottle on the dining room table. Put them in a dedicated plastic bucket near the door instead.
- Don’t walk in and head directly to the refrigerator, video game console, or TV remote. Change clothes, use the restroom and wash your hands first.
- Don’t tackle the kids or embrace your spouse right away. Protect everyone by slipping into something clean and washing your face and hands before you start the nightly tickle-fest.
An after work routine will pay huge dividends in the coming weeks.
Both for your family’s health and your own peace of mind.
Some of us don’t have the option of staying home and avoiding the Coronavirus.
We have to take an active approach to protect ourselves and our family while we are in the field. This is a burden covert officers and special operators have known for many generations.
And the skills that kept me safe then are still keeping me safe today.
I know they will do the same for you.
A SPY’S ROADMAP TO KEEPING CORONAVIRUS OUT OF YOUR HOME
Priority 1: High-Risk Surfaces
- Front door inside door knob
- Garage door inside door knob
- Refrigerator door handle
- Microwave handle/buttons
- TV Remote control
- Living Room coffee table
- Living room, kitchen, and garage entry light switches
- Top area on soap pumps
- Keyboards and mouse on shared computers
- Reusable water bottles that travel in/out of the home
- Outside of hand-sanitizer bottles that travel in/out of the home
Priority 2: Medium Risk Surfaces
- Internal door knobs (bathroom, bedroom, cabinets, patio/backyard doors)
- Sink handles and knobs in kitchen and bathroom
- Removable shower heads and shower fixtures
- Light, fan, and blind strings
- Shared tissue boxes
- Shared tablets/smartphones
- Landline telephones
- Laminated menus kept in the home office or kitchen
- Kitchen counter-tops
- Bathroom counter-tops
- Dining room table
- Shared coffee maker
- Toilet handles
- Washer/dryer handles and buttons
Priority 3: Low Risk surfaces
- Children’s toys
- DVD and Video game cases
- Full body towels
- Daily clothes
Author: Andrew Bustamante, Founder of www.EverydaySpy.com. Andrew is a former covert CIA Intelligence officer, decorated US Air Force Combat Veteran, and respected Fortune 500 senior advisor. Learn more from Andrew on his Podcast (The Everyday Espionage Podcast) and by following @EverydaySpy on your favorite social media platform.