Combating Coronavirus: Prevent the Pandemic

Andrew Bustamante | January 28, 2020

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Greetings Everyday Spy,

Fears of the Coronavirus are spreading faster than the infection itself.

You’ve seen this happen before. 

Let’s review the other ‘fatal pathogens’ you’ve survived in the last two decades.

  • SARS (SARS-CoV) was confirmed in 8000 cases over 26 countries in 2003.
  • The Avian Flu (H5N1) caused global fears in 2006.
  • The Swine Flu (H1N1) was labeled a global pandemic in 2009.
  • MERS (MERS-CoV) reached from the Arabian Peninsula to rural Indiana in 2014

There is a difference between fears and facts. 

And while I don’t doubt that new 2019-nCoV cases will come, CIA trained me to remain objective, control my fear, and correctly combat contagions.

I want to share that training with you today.

CIA operates in environments filled with contagious infection and communicable disease.

National security objectives take us into war-torn areas, infected slums, and remote corners of the globe where rare/undiscovered diseases lay in wait for a human host. 

We do not have the option of simply staying home. So instead we prepare to both prevent infection and avoid becoming personal carriers.

As my family and I watch the Coronavirus spread, I am reminded of my time working in Asia and Africa.

  • China is the birthplace of 2019-nCoV, SARS-CoV, Swine Flu and multiple variations of the Avian Flu.
  • Africa is the birthplace of Ebola, Zika, Cholera, and a seemingly endless list of diseases that have been eradicated from the west.
  • 8 of the 10 deadliest modern-cay viruses originate from tropical climates on the Asian and African continents (Ebola, Hantavirus, Bird Flu, Lassa Virus, Crimea-Congo Fever, Machupo Virus, KFD, Dengue) 

Even as you and I read Coronavirus estimates and predictions, America’s covert warriors are out there exposing themselves to diseases known and unknown to mankind. 

And they do it without fear because they’ve been trained to combat infection. 

Here is how we do it:

Density equals danger

People can carry viruses that infect other people. 

You are 4x more likely to get infected with a pathogen from another person than from an animal. The best way to prevent unwanted infection is to avoid densely populated areas.

The city of Wuhan is the sixth largest city in China, hosting 3,200 people per square mile.

In 2019, China had the highest population in the world – 1.43 billion people. Even with 3.7 million square miles of space in the country, the national population density came out to 395 people per square mile.

To give some perspective, let’s look at the population density in three western countries:

  • The United States has 93 people per square mile
  • Canada has 10.66 people per square mile 
  • Australia 8.5 people per square mile

The reason diseases are born and spread quickly in Asia (especially China) is because viruses have a surplus of potential human hosts.

Korea, India and the Philippines face similar risks based on population density because one sick person can come into contact with thousands of others in a single day.

But the USA has 0.2% the population density of Wuhan, China.

And odds of infection to the average American are an even smaller than that.

Do not let headlines and click-bait distract you from the facts. 

China is the world’s petri dish. 

I’ve lived there, traveled there, and worded there. I’ve seen the conditions where disease is born, festers, and grows. And I do not fear for my family or my fellow American because I know that America’s population density is a natural barrier to the spread of Coronavirus.

Facemasks are folly

You will never see a trained field operator in a medical face mask.

Because face masks were made for hospitals, not everyday life.

The benefits of a face mask are nearly non-existent. Leading medical institutions in the US and London have stated clearly that “routine surgical masks for the public are not an effective protection against viruses carried in the air.”

Surgical masks weren’t built to protect people from airborne pathogens. 

They were designed to protect against two things:

  1. Direct ‘splash’ (mucus, spit, spray) contact from an infected patient’s sneeze or cough.
  2. Direct surface contact between fingers/hands and the mucous membranes in the nose and mouth.

An airborne pathogen like Coronavirus can easily pass through and around the paper barrier of a mask. 

The same was true for Swine Flu, Avian Flu and SARS. 

Even as millions of face masks are hawked on the same streets where these viruses were born, the truth remains the same.

Doctors and nurses use medical face masks because they work in close quarters where the density of sick patients is very high. 

Because they use their hands and fingers with multiple contagious patients, they have a high risk of transferring a surface pathogen from their hands to their own nose or mouth. 

The average person touches their own face 368 times per day.

Face masks were designed to keep doctors from infecting themselves accidentally. And they have proven valuable for controlling the spread of infection in a closed hospital settings only.

Not in the field. 

Killer conditions

Pathogens are living organisms – just like people, plants, and animals. 

That means they need favorable conditions to survive. 

The more hostile the environment, the more likely the pathogen is to die.

While the 2019-nCoV lifecycle outside the body is still a mystery, SARS-CoV was known to survive up to 6 days outside the body and MERS-CoV could only last 24 hours. The strongest virus known to us (Hepatitis B) can live in favorable conditions for up to 7 days.

Instead of attacking the virus, elite field operators attack the surfaces where viruses try to live.

Warm water with soap, bleach, alcohol and even lemon/lime juice are all effective cleansers that can kill pathogens on contact. I carry hand sanitizer everywhere I go and use it anytime I can’t find my way to soap and water.

  • Keep the surfaces around you disinfected and you can keep your hands safe
  • Keep your hands safe and you can keep your nose and mouth safe
  • Keep your nose and mouth safe and you don’t get sick.

You win. Coronavirus loses.

Mobility rules

If you know me and you have been following EverydaySpy, than you already know what I’m about to say…

The key to survival is mobility – always be ready to move quickly and securely.

It goes without saying that you should avoid unnecessary travel into Wuhan China. You should also avoid population-dense areas of transit, like airports, bus stations, and train stations. Mobility can protect you by keeping you away from risk-prone areas. Do not voluntarily take yourself into these areas unless absolutely necessary.

Coronavirus incubation is up to 14 days – so avoid transit points for 15 days after the last reported case of infection.

The risk of infection from a person known to be contagious is much less than the risk of infection from someone who has not been identified as a carrier.

Between 30%-50% of infection goes unreported around the world.

The only cases that can be reported are cases caught by medical professionals. For every one person receiving professional treatment right now, it is reasonable to expect 1-2 people are engaging in self-treatment at home; Infected, contagious, and unreported.

If you know someone engaging in self-care with symptoms similar to Coronavirus, encourage them to visit a medical center. 

If you are caring for yourself or a family member with symptoms, take them to a medical professional. 

Coronavirus is not something to be afraid of. It is a virus that can be treated, defeated, and avoided. But the key is to combat it – not fear it.


I have to respectfully disagree with our President about my level of confidence that Chinese authorities have been transparent about Coronavirus in their country. 

China is not a free or open country. There is corruption, poverty, greed, and a culture that will do anything to avoid public embarrassment. While they may be sharing part what they know about Coronavirus, they are most certainly not admitting what they do not know or do not understand.

They will share the minimum to avoid the risk of international scrutiny and criticism. Not because they are ‘evil’ or ‘horrible’, but because they have national security priorities that are incompatible with international transparency. 

They are the same government that brought you Swine Flu, Avian Flu, and SARS.

They have mastered the art of perceived cooperation. And Coronavirus will not be the last new global infection to come from the Middle Kingdom.

But if you use the tools and tactics that covert operators use to avoid infection, you have nothing to fear.

You and your family will be safe and healthy.

Godspeed, #EverydaySpy

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.

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