Pandemic Panic on the Produce Aisle


by Mayzie Purviance

Editor’s Note: All information is gathered from the Center for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) or the White House.  There is an abundance of information floating around Facebook and other websites — personally, I would advise you not to trust any information unless it is released by the White House or the CDC.  This is a serious issue and the sharing of faulty information is only contributing to the panic.  MP.

Pandemic is a word that is not used lightly and should not be taken lightly.  According to the Center for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) examples of a pandemic include the H1N1 virus (sometimes referred to as the Bird Flu) which spread across the country in 1918 as well as 2009 and was estimated to have killed 50 million people across the globe.  The H2N2 virus (often known as the Asian Flu) is another CDC classified pandemic which killed an estimated number of 1.1 million people worldwide.  Other organizations claim the Spanish Flu as well as HIV/AIDS as global pandemics — but one thing is for sure: COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is certainly a pandemic.

 

What is the Coronavirus…

 

As of Monday, March 16, 2020, the Coronavirus has claimed 167,515 prisoners and 6,606 victims of death globally.  China has the highest number for confirmed cases of coronavirus at 81,077 with Italy trailing behind at 24,747 cases, followed by Iran at 14,991 cases.  These numbers make the 1,678 Americans infected with Coronavirus seem like small potatoes — but research shows otherwise (the previous numbers are updated every day and can be viewed at www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/situation-reports/).

Many of our readers may know the word “Coronavirus” from vaccinating livestock, however, COVID-19 is a different beast.

“A novel coronavirus is a new coronavirus that has not been previously identified.  The virus causing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold,” the CDC website reads.

Symptoms of the coronavirus are somewhat like the common cold: fever, cough, and shortness of breath.  These symptoms can occur two to 14 days after exposure.

According to the CDC, the virus was first detected in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China.  The first infections were linked to a live animal market, but the virus is now spreading from person-to-person.  It’s important to note that person-to-person spread can happen on a continuum.  Some viruses are highly contagious (like measles), while other viruses are less.

“The virus that causes COVID-19 seems to be spreading easily and sustainably in the community (‘community spread’) in some affected geographic areas,” the CDC states.  “Community spread means people have been infected with the virus in an area, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected.”

The Coronavirus can easily be spread through person-to-person contact by someone who is actively sick with the virus.  The incubation period for the Coronavirus can last up to 14 days, meaning that someone could not show symptoms for a week to two weeks after being exposed.  This is why those exposed to the Coronavirus, must quarantine for 14 days.

A patient can only be released from quarantine if and only if they are free from fever without the use of fever-reducing medications; they are no longer showing symptoms, including coughing; and if they test negative on at least two consecutive respiratory specimens collected within 24 hours apart.

 

The White House’s Response…

 

The Coronavirus was declared a National Emergency last week, meaning the government now has access to $40 billion in funds for disaster relief as well the ability to cut through some red tape.  Much of the Coronavirus jurisdiction was given to each state’s governors.

The White House created a Coronavirus task force which includes Vice-President Mike Pence; Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar; Deborah Birx, M.D.; Anthony Fauci, M.D., and others.  This task force meets every day to discuss the effect of the Coronavirus on U.S. citizens, guidelines, and governmental actions.

The U.S. has closed its borders with China, Europe, and the United Kingdom as of Monday, March 16.  President Trump said the task force will discuss other border closings as this pandemic continues.

“We’ve made the decision to further toughen the guidelines and blunt the infection now.  We’d much rather be ahead of the curve than behind it,” Trump said in a press conference, Monday, March 16.

The current guidelines are as follows:

  • Stay home from school and work if possible;
  • Avoid gatherings in groups of 10 or more people;
  • Avoid discretionary travel; and
  • Avoid eating and drinking in bars, restaurants, and public food courts.

“These guidelines are very specific, they’re very detailed.  They will only work if every American takes this together to heart and responds as one nation and one people to stop the spread of this virus,” Birx said.

The taskforce has asked U.S. citizens to follow these guidelines until March 31, 2020.

Fauci said the first vaccinations were given in phase one of the Coronavirus vaccine clinical trial.  This trial will include 45 normal individuals between the ages of 18 and 55 in Seattle, Washington.  Participants will be given the vaccination again at 28 days after the first injection, these participants will be followed for one year.

Another proactive accomplishment is the roll out of Coronavirus test kits.  According to ADM Brett P. Giroir, M.D., currently, 1 million test kits are available across the country and 1.9 million will be available by the end of the week, with the hope of 5 million available test kits within the next three weeks.  These test kits are not only accessible in hospitals but in remote testing centers across the country for those who don’t want to take their chances by going into a hospital.

Although the Coronavirus is a medical issue, it has affected many other industries in the U.S. such as the tourism industry, the education system, and the stock market.  The stock market has seen its worst fall since the 1980s, but President Trump is hopeful.

“My focus is getting rid of this virus problem,” Trump said.  “Once we do that, everything else is going to fall into place.”

 

Will the Cattle Market “Fall Into Place…”

 

Market Analyst Corbitt Wall of Feeder Flash, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and United States Cattlemen’s Association have all expressed their concern with the Coronavirus’ effect on the cattle market.

“Hysteria, and I’m not talking about a Def Leopard album, I’m talking about the craziness that has ensued over this Coronavirus is just unbelievable,” Wall said in his March 16 Feeder Flash video.  “It has wiped out our stock market, almost 20 percent, and our cattle markets are sharply lower — it’s just terrible.”

Wall then showed a photo of a meat case completely empty at a grocery story.

“I think this is key to help us get our markets put back together a little bit, even before we get past this Coronavirus deal.  We had a lot of talk late last week and over the weekend about what we can do [to help the cattle market].”

Some things we could do, Wall said, was to contact congressman and government officials about your concerns.  A big concern late last week was the fear of packing plants closing, but as Wall said, “we’ve got to have product, people have to have something to eat.”

According to news reports, USDA will work with the packers to make sure packing facilities stay open during this epidemic.

Wall posed the question of, ‘what exactly is it that we want the government to do?’

“Your cattle people, as hard as it is, have always been able to stand up tall,” Wall said.  “We don’t take cheese checks like most industries do.  But we want a level playing field, we want to be able to make a living.”

Wall said he believes one thing the cattle industry could ask the government to do is help implement the minimum percent volume of negotiated cash sales.

“I think we could get that done and then just step back and watch the markets work after that,” Wall said.  “We know we’re not going to get the packer monopoly busted up, but they could at least set that.”

 

Caution Is Key…

 

Regardless of opinions one the Coronavirus panic, the cattle market, or President Trump, one thing is clear: Americans need to be cautious.  Americans need to realize that even if this isn’t killing thousands of Americans today, it’s going to continue to affect every industry, for better or for worse.

In the White House’s Coronavirus Task Force press conference on Monday, March 16, President Trump said, “We have an invisible enemy.  We have a problem that a month ago nobody ever thought about… I’ve read about it, I read about many years ago, 1917, 1918.  I’ve seen all of the different problems similar to this that we’ve had.  This is a bad one.  This is a very bad one.”

Wash your hands, distance yourself from those with weak immune systems, and pray the cattle market catches up with those empty deli aisles… because as you all know, the Coronavirus won’t kill everyone, but starvation very well could.

 

 

My Opinion on the Coronavirus and the Cattle Market…

By Mayzie Purviance

The coronavirus pandemic is something I have mixed feelings about.  Yes, I agree that we should be cautious — caution is not the problem.  The problem is that our country crossed the yellow tape too soon and have now entered a state of panic.

This panic has not only caused anarchy in your local Wal Mart, but at the sale barn as well.

Late last week, my dad and two brothers road tripped to OKC West in El Reno, Oklahoma.  The boys were on spring break and wanted to tag along, they had planned to sell a load of steers and go to the OKC Thunder basketball game later that evening.  To their dismay, both events would end poorly.

“On February 24 I sent a pic of some steers on wheat pasture to OKCC-West field rep.  I asked, ‘if these steers weigh 700 pounds, how much will they bring at your market?’” my dad, John Purviance, said to me in a very heated text message.  “His reply, ‘Last week they would have brought $155-$163/cwt.’  We decided not to ship at that time, opting to wait a couple more weeks because the steers were not fleshy and we thought that they would draw great interest from people who could take them on to grass.  The longer we held them, the closer we would be to spring green up and the more interest they could draw from ‘grass guys.’

“Then came Coronavirus.  We sold them on Wednesday, March 11.  The steers weighed 713, had excellent condition and quality, and brought $134/cwt.  This translates to a $150-$210/head loss because of the Coronavirus, and this all happened in a two-week period.  All I can say is thank God we sold them on March 11.”

Later that evening, when the boys got to the basketball game, the game was canceled right before tip-off.  Needless to say, their spring break was less than adequate.

“The next day, March 12, the pandemic panic set in in earnest.  Who knows where the market goes from here,” Dad concluded.

Here’s what I don’t get: I’ve been on Facebook, I’ve been tagged in photos and memes about agriculture and the coronavirus, and many of the photos I’ve seen are of empty shelves — not just of toilet paper, but of beef.  So why is it that we seemingly have a higher need for beef, yet we’re getting gypped when we take our cattle to market?

 

 

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