The Coronavirus And What I’m Doing

Panic. Mayhem. Stock market crash. Toilet paper shortages. School shutdowns.

Is the Corona virus something to panic about?

The Coronavirus, or COVID-19 is not on the top 10 things I’m concerned about. But because of the number of people bringing this topic up I thought I’d make a page I can point people at.

Am I worried about the Coronavirus? No. Am I making any changes? Very few. Do I have plans in place? Yes. Am I worried? No. Read on.

Covid-19 Graphic and what I'm going to Prepare

Hoarding Supplies

We’re not hoarding anything… we already have supplies as part of our normal emergency preparedness.

  • Data. I have extra spare hard drives, so my ZFS systems can continue to operate with redundancy should there be a hard drive shortage.
  • Food. We are not out buying more food than usual… we usually have several weeks worth of food we can raid in our pantry, plus gluten free food kit buckets to get us through longer emergencies.
  • Toilet paper — we always have plenty on hand so I didn’t buy more, but if it came to it I could put my junk mail to good use.
  • Hand Sanitizer — I have none except what’s in our emergency medical kit and vehicles. Nothing compares to handwashing with soap and water.
  • Ammo — plenty of it.
  • We’re also equipped with several ham radios, emergency battery packs we could use to charge our phones, lots of extra AA, AAA, and 9V batteries, a generator, gas, propane, etc.

Investing

The Stock Market News Report: Panic Panic Panic!

Markets going down. Recession. Panic. This chart makes it seem like the S&P 500 is way down. This is because the news looks at things with a short time horizon. 1 year was the max I could go on the NYT website and it looks bad.

Stock Market Crash due to Coronavirus

The headlines about the markets falling will be accompanied by a picture of a worried stock trader–this is not a recent picture from the floor of the NYSE. It’s a stock photo from Getty Images.

What A More Reasoned Long-Term View of the Market Looks Like

When a farmer buys a field, he isn’t concerned with the day to day price of the piece of land. Rather, he’s buying it as a business investment. What will this investment do for the long-run? Will it turn a profit throughout his lifetime? He doesn’t sell his field when it’s gone down 10% in value. He’s in it for the long haul. We ought to look at owning stocks in the same way.

You won’t see this chart in the news. Let’s go out to 10-years. And instead of looking at the percentage chart (which excludes income from dividends) let’s change it to a Growth of $10,000 chart. If you had invested $10,000 into the S&P 500 fund in March 13 of 2010, and did nothing for 10 years, you would have $30,146 on March 13, 2020. Your investment would have tripled in value. The stock market could still lose more and you will still have made a profit. (Some decades look worse, but in general the longer you stretch this out the less bad it looks). You see that little dip at the end? That’s what all the market crash news is about.

Chart of Growth of $10,000 over 10 years of the S&P 500 showing a 3x return

Nobody knows the future except for God. So bearing that in mind, I maintain a constant portfolio, using the Vanguard LifeStrategy Growth Fund (VASGX). The managers at Vanguard maintain this asset allocation for me:

  • 50% U.S. Stocks
  • 30% Foreign Stocks
  • 15% US Bonds
  • 5% Foreign Bonds.

I have a few other small holdings but the above is the bulk of our portfolio… in one simple fund.

This portfolio is well diversified and owns just about every company in the U.S. and abroad, and just about every bond. The LifeStrategy Growth fund automatically maintains an 80/20 stock/bond allocation so when stocks fall more gets put into stocks to keep that allocation and vice-versa.

As a result of the crash: I actually moved more into the stock market with the full realization that it can (and probably will) drop some more. I nearly doubled the amount we’re contributing to 401K and Roth accounts and may even dip into savings to maintain that rate. We’ll do our best to hold a higher than normal contribution for as long as we can while the market is down whether it takes months or years or a decade to recover. This is a strategy known as Value Averaging (which I learned from reading Michael E Edleson’s book).

While I was discussing the purchase of more investments with Kris, Eli asked a lot of questions about the stock market. Explaining dividends and stock prices to a 9-year old is a challenge but he understood the concept. So I opened a Custodial account with him, I gave him 3 index funds to choose from: S&P 500, U.S. Total Stock Market, or U.S. Small Caps. He chose to buy $50 of the U.S. Total Stock Market Fund with his own money. I warned him it was likely to drop further. With that in mind he has $55 left he plans to put in later.

Income Stability

Income stability may be a concern. Already many jobs are being lost because of the Coronavirus. Here are ways to prepare for this.

Emergency Fund

The best way to prepare for this is to have an emergency fund which everyone should work towards building coronavirus or not. When Kris and I first got married we and a few of our close friends were the only people I knew without a TV, and without Cable. The $70/month we could have spent on TV went to slowly building up an emergency fund. I also know people who spend $5 on a Starbucks drink daily (that’s $1800/year). I bought a $10 coffee pot from Wal-Mart. My coffee costs $0.25/day ($90/year).

Have plans for benefits you get from your employer

Getting benefits from your employer makes a severance difficult. Friends of mine have suddenly found themselves without a job and unable to afford medical insurance on their own. I purchase my own disability insurance, dental insurance, and life insurance. Health insurance outside of work was too expensive so we joined a medical sharing group. That way if something should happen to my job I’m not scrambling to replace all of those services.

Social Distancing

I avoid crowds as much as possible anyway… being away from people and in the woods or reading a book is how I recharge. I plan to continue to go on as normal. To work, church, errands, and take my vacations as long as there are no travel restrictions. It’s looking like my employer will start allowing us to work from home so I’ll probably take advantage of that and have everyone on my team work from home. Having our entire group work remotely is something I’ve been wanting to try for a long time so I’m excited to see how it will work. When I’m sick I stay home from church or work from home as much as possible so that I don’t infect other people. This would be a great practice for everyone to do. Maybe one good outcome from Coronavirus is people will learn to be considerate of others when they’re sick!

Childcare and School

From the day Kris and I got married we decided as soon as we had kids that she would stop working–despite the fact that she made a lot more than me. We have worked hard to keep our expenses low enough to live on one income by having a smaller house, fewer luxury items, etc. I realize not every family can afford to live on a single income; and Kris had to work the first 2 years we were married or we wouldn’t have made it. But it’s an idea for a goal couples can work towards. Some years our expenses outpace what my salary can bring in, so I also do consulting and a few side businesses which brings in supplemental income.

There are many benefits and intangibles with Kris staying at home. Most importantly we believe that children are a gift from God. The responsibility God granted us to raise Eli is not something I take lightly. There are many things I would delegate to others–mowing the lawn, managing finances, cleaning the house–but teaching our child in the way of the Lord, that is a responsibility God gave to parents.

This does make it easier for us to handle things like schools being closed… for one, we homeschool, so there’s no disruption to our school at all. But even if we didn’t we aren’t scrambling to find childcare. That said, for those that do rely on schools to watch their kids, most companies are understanding and working with employees by giving more flexible schedules or allowing people to work from home to make this work. I’m glad to see that.

How Likely Are You to Die of Corona Virus?

About 90 people are dying of Corona Virus each day Worldwide. Now this number will go up. But to put this in perspective, here are other causes people die from each day:

  1. Abortion – 125,000
  2. Heart Disease – 48,000
  3. Cancer – 24,000
  4. Respiratory Disease – 9,700
  5. Dementia – 6,500
  6. Lower respiratory infections – 6,500
  7. Diarrheal diseases – 4,500
  8. Road Incidents – 3,700
  9. Liver Disease – 3,500
  10. Tuberculosis – 3,300
  11. All over causes – 21,000.

Even if you do catch Coronavirus, it’s not necessarily a death sentence. This COVID-19 Coronavirus Infographic is a great visual.

The number one cause of death in the world continues to be Abortion. I see no headlines in the news about the number of people who died of abortion today. In the media we have an overreaction to possible future deaths by Covid-19 and an under-reaction to actual deaths by abortion.

Kris and I will continue focusing our efforts against abortion and on supporting organizations that help mothers.

Covid-19 is so small of an issue by comparison and has so much money being dumped into it.

We Do Not Know the Future

Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”

James 4:13-15

I do not know the future. I could get coronavirus. One day, our investment in the stock market might have turned out to be foolish–it could crash completely. Or perhaps the government will take some of our emergency funds away and give it to people who bought Starbucks drinks all their life. I may die this evening. I don’t know any of that.

The reality is, any of us could die at any moment. I have taken some precautions by having life insurance in case I go first so Kris and Eli have means to take care of themselves.

When considering death and Covid-19 there is a big difference between my perspective which is the Christian perspective, and the perspective of those who do not believe in Christ. I believe in God. I put my faith in Jesus Christ. Death isn’t something I fear because I am confident in my salvation. When I die, I will find myself in the presence of God.

To those who don’t know Christ, all the fear and panic makes sense. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Reaction from Authorities and Organizations

The authorities and organizers are doing things to slow the spread of coronavirus.

  • Every conference I’ve heard of has been canceled.
  • Most executives have banned travel and are mandating that employees work from home; and those that aren’t are allowing people to take more sick days.
  • Travel between many countries has been restricted.
  • President Trump has issued Coronavirus Guidelines for America
  • School is being canceled for many kids.
  • Church services are being canceled.
  • etc.

If Coronavirus turns out to be that bad, all of these changes are going to result in a slower spread of the virus meaning healthcare providers are going to be less swamped. While the authorities aren’t perfect, they are ministers of God. Whether it’s my Boss, the Pastors at my church, the Sheriff, the Governor of Idaho, or President Trump. I intend to carry out their mandates so long as nothing contradicts the Bible and to adhere to their recommendations as much as is convenient.

If the government mandates churches shutdown because of COVID-19, that is not persecution against Christianity.

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.

Romans 13:1

The Number 1 Reason I’m Not Worried About the Coronavirus

I’m not worried because I know where I will be in eternity because I believe God and trust in Him. Here is what it means to believe in God:

A common misconception I hear is that people think to become a Christian they must be good. Actually, that’s not Christianity at all. Christianity teaches that we cannot be good, God created us in His image. We have sinned against God who is holy. Christianity is not about being good, rather, it’s about recognizing that we are sinners, and believing that Jesus Christ took the punishment of sin for us. So that when God looks at us, he sees Christ’s life instead of ours. We are declared righteous in His eyes despite our sin. If all you’ve heard is that you need to be good to go to heaven, that is dangerously wrong.

Here’s the true gospel:

Scripture says that Jesus is God.

God is eternal. He is all-powerful. He is all knowing. There is nothing that exists apart from Him. He created all things. He is one being and three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). He is many things, but for the purpose of this post, God is Holy. He cannot do evil. He cannot condone evil.

God requires us to be holy.

But we are not. Because we are not holy, we are on the path to eternal punishment. We are in a state of rebellion against God, and all of us sin. I hear two objections to this. 1. “Nobody is perfect.” and 2. “I’m good enough.”

To answer the first objection: Nonsense. Just because nobody is perfect, does not mean we are excused from sin. Your sin is deserving of eternal damnation. And secondly: You are not good. Have you ever taken God’s name in vain? Have you ever hated anyone? Have you ever looked at a man or woman with lust? Have you ever lied, even once? Have you ever stolen anything? Have you ever wanted something that’s not yours? Have you ever gotten drunk? If you answered yes to any of those questions you are a sinner. I’d wager to say you’re a blasphemer, adulterer, liar, thief, coveter, and a drunkard. Still think you’re good?

This doesn’t mean we can’t do kindness or good deeds to other humans. But we are not capable of pleasing God on our own.

God’s holiness and justice demand that all sin be punished by death and eternity in Hell. While you may think this is unfair. Remember, we are made in God’s image which means He holds us to a high standard. The magnitude of our sin–as people who know better and as beings made in God’s own image–against a Holy and Just God is far more than we can comprehend.

Jesus Christ came to earth as a man (this is what we celebrate on Christmas). He came to live a perfect life, and to die on the cross on behalf of us, to pay the penalty, the ransom for our sins. Which is death. This means God punished Jesus for our sins, instead of punishing those who believe. A common misconception is that Jesus’s death was a victory of Satan. That is not the case. God sent Jesus to earth to die for our sins because He loves us. Christ died, was buried, then God raised him from the dead.

That is the gospel. By believing that Jesus is God, He died on the cross, and paid the penalty for your sins you will have eternal life. The flip side of the coin for those who do not believe is far worse.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23 ESV

I guarantee you, eternal life is nothing like what you see in the movies. It’s not going to be playing harps in the clouds.

An answer to one final objection:

A number of my unbelieving friends have told me they’ll admit that Jesus was a good man, but they don’t believe that He is God. That’s ridiculous. If you cannot call Him God, you cannot call him good. If Jesus is not God, he is a liar or a lunatic. But not good. A quote from C.S. Lewis’s book:

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell.

You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to…. Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God.

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, Pages 55-56.

I believe in God, and trust in His sovereignty over all things, including the coronavirus. And that’s why I’m not worried.

Update March 21, 2020. Thanks for reading. If you like this this post please share it! It’s been flagged as having sensitive content so it won’t get much traffic otherwise. – Ben

4 thoughts on “The Coronavirus And What I’m Doing”

  1. One additional angle on how to act in response to Corona virus is the potential for infecting others. We can’t just think about our safety, but also the safety of others in higher-risk groups who we may be inadvertently putting in danger by spreading the virus (which is contagious before symptoms appear).

    I don’t think your list will age well. To give a sense of the pace of the outbreak, as of March 29 the deaths per day figure was more than 3,500 and the number is doubling every 5 days.

    1. Good point Gabe. It’s not only to protect yourself but also others–especially those working in the medical field or those at high risk. Since I wrote this post my employer has allowed us to work from home, our church has canceled services, and the governor of Idaho has a mandated shelter in place order so these days the only traveling we’re doing is to the grocery stores to top off supplies.

      Less than 100 to 3,500 is quite a jump! It’s made it to the top 10 causes of death.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *