The Wealthy Are Preparing for Coronavirus Differently

Concierge doctors, yachts, chartered planes and germ-free hideaways.


A Germ-Free Panic Room

A Gulfstream IV jet or 150-foot superyacht may make for a fine temporary sanctuary for plutocrats who wish to travel in style in a world of swirling microbes. But for those who really want to bunker down as global infections mount, a well-stocked home bunker represents the ultimate luxury.

A luxe bunker, it seems, can take many forms.

Dr. Stein said that another Sollis member, an heiress in Southampton, N.Y., built a medical isolation room complete with a ventilation system.

The word “room,” however, hardly captures it. Dr. Stein said it is equipped with a negative pressure system to restrict the circulation of pathogens, and is basically an isolated guest wing consisting of a bedroom and kitchen stocked with IV hydration, medicines, lab supplies, gloves, gowns, masks, oxygen and food, as well as a set of dishes and linens.

In certain pockets of Silicon Valley, where tech-elite survivalists drool over abandoned missile silos that were converted into luxury bunkers, coronavirus is precisely the doomsday scenario they’ve been preparing for.

Marvin Liao, a former partner at the venture capital firm 500 startups, has been stocking up on canned food, water, hand sanitizer and toilet paper in anticipation of an outbreak, and has lately been scoping out a high-end air purifier called Molekule Air which costs $799.

“I don’t know if you’re ever ready for this,” Mr. Liao said of coronavirus. “But I think that you’re probably better prepared than a lot of people, because at least you’ve thought about it and at least you’ve stocked up. Worse comes to worse you’ll have a lot more cushion than a lot more people out there.”

Jon Stokes, a former Silicon Valley prepper who left Silicon Valley for prepping reasons (he lives in Colorado now), echoed that sentiment. He said that he had stockpiled about four months’ worth of food, and recently purchased a stethoscope and a pulse oximeter that measures the oxygen saturation in red blood cells to monitor his family for signs of the virus.

“This exact situation is precisely what preppers prep for,” Mr. Stokes said. “Aside from the NatGeo or History Channel doomsday prepper, for ordinary preppers, this is kind of it for us. A pandemic, a shelter-in-place sort of thing, where you have to be self-sufficient for a few weeks or for a month or two. That’s what we do.”



By Alex Williams and Jonah Engel Bromwich

March 6, 2020, 10:30 a.m. ET