I don't mean any disrespect, nor would I want to minimize anyone's concern about the pandemic that we're all living through. And certainly anyone that has any compromising conditions or has contact with anyone that has compromising conditions needs to be extra aware, concerned, and cautious. Anyone that doesn't feel safe should be encouraged to remain sheltered in place and minimize social contact.
With that said, I just wanted to add a few comments to the points above, which are no doubt posted out of legitimate and valid concerns.
Originally Posted by Mike_WI
Everyone should still be social distancing.
The percentage of population with (presumptive, not clinically validated) immunity is still very low.
We would all love to get more social, but we face the possibility of a larger second peak.
"Everything we do before a pandemic will seem alarmist. Everything we do after will seem inadequate"
- Michael Leavitt 2007 [when he was Secretary of Health & Human Services (USA)] RE: Avian Flu, but relevant in general.
HT (at) GWHalleyPhD
So, in WI our measures have worked, but it isn't from overreaction, it is from an expectation.
Other countries that have re-opened two quickly saw spikes.
These are all good points, and need to be taken with serious consideration. There's no telling when, or even if, we will ever reach herd immunity, since the data is all so young. It's unlikely that a vaccine will be ready this year.
The state has started to reopen, and it's hard to tell what the exact result will be of that action. Milwaukee continues to be a hot-spot, so anyone living inside of that area needs to be extra cautious. On the other hand, there are other areas that have been touched much less by the virus. Not that the people living there are special, but the population density is much less, and the stay-at-home order has done a good job in minimizing the transmission rate.
Originally Posted by Mike_WI
There is/are reasons why AXPONA, and many other meetings were cancelled even this summer and farther out.
Remember, it isn't for your own benefit, it is to help others that have impaired immune systems -- eg congenital, cancer, chemotherapy (for cancer or rheumatologic conditions), and elderly.
GTGs are a little different than AXPONA and the other future events that have been canceled. Those events pull in hundreds and thousands of people from across the country, all mingling very closely in tightly confined spaces. Add to that the risks of travel associated with mass transportation and the many points of human interaction leading up to, during, and after the events, the risk becomes even greater.
The other component is for the financial impact on the organizers and all of the ancillary services necessary to support those large-scale events. Will there be enough attendees to support the staff and facilities? Will hotels be operating at enough capacity to house the people that do want to attend? Will vendors show up?
Those things would all need to be known now, or at least have a good indication of what they're going to be like, in order to plan for that kind of event. GTGs do require planning, but not on that scale. So, there is the risk of it being canceled at the last minute, as happened to Alex for the last scheduled GTG. That would be an unfortunate possibility for any GTG scheduled for the rest of this year, and maybe beyond.
Originally Posted by Mike_WI
During a meeting in Munich, Germany, a presymptomatic attendee with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infected at least 11 of 13 other participants. Although 5 participants had no or mild symptoms, 6 had typical coronavirus disease, without dyspnea.
Our findings suggest hand shaking and face-to-face contact as possible modes of transmission.
Thanks for posting that research letter. It was an interesting read, and shows how even the medical community was not prepared for how easily spread the virus was back in February.
Some of the conditions would compare to a GTG, the meeting space was a bit larger than any of our theaters (about 750 square feet), and there were 14 attendees. Refreshments were served buffet style.
What didn't compare is that the event was held in a hotel meeting room over two days, with 9.5 hours of discussion. Attendees were from seven different countries, and while they weren't all listed, it's reasonable to assume that some form of mass transportation was used by some, if not most of them. The article does mention a taxi ride that was shared between some of them. One of them was from New York, and the event was in Germany, so air travel was certainly involved in some extent. It is speculated in the article that the original carrier was unknowingly infected by an asymptomatic patient at his clinic in Milan, Italy. While the research letter does state that none of the hotel's staff tested positive for the virus and none reported any symptoms, it doesn't mention testing results for any of the other points of contact the attendees would have shared, such as the serving staff at the restaurant that they all went to the first night of the meeting. Nor does it allow for infection from other sources. With the potentially long incubation period of the virus, those infected could have gotten it from any number of people before, during, or after the conference.
Not that I would dispute that it's likely that they contracted it there. After all, they didn't practice any kinds of social distancing during the meeting - face masks weren't worn, they exchanged handshakes numerous times, and even hugged each other. (No kissing, though.) The event was held in Munich, which also happened to be the first reported case of COVID-19 in Germany, just three weeks earlier. Milan was the first reported case of the Coronavirus in Italy, so a lot of it ties together.
I'm not a doctor, and certainly not an immunologist; just an average guy who's been following the story, while staying at home as much as possible, and working from home four out of five days a week. The number of positive cases in the state continues to grow, as does the number of tests being administered. The rate of positive tests remains at about 6%. The number of patients requiring hospitalization in SE Wisconsin has increased over the past 10 days, but is still about 25% below the peak numbers in April. Over half of the patients with confirmed cases have recovered.
Where does this leave us a month from now? It's a decision each of us will have to weigh carefully. After almost two months of social distancing, and getting a greater understanding of just who is at risk, and how to mitigate the risk, it seems like an appropriate time to talk about starting GTGs back up. Again, this is not to dismiss anyone's concern, since there is risk involved and the virus can be very dangerous for some people. Anyone that doesn't feel comfortable participating should be encouraged to sit out until such time that they do. And everyone should take stock of those around them and pay special attention to anyone they interact with that is more susceptible to the virus and it's consequences. In addition, anyone that lives or works in a higher-risk area should also take that into account. So, if you use mass transportation or work in business where close contact with others can't be avoided, or live in a densely-populated housing unit or community, it would probably would be a good idea to sit out for a bit.
For anyone else, I think a smaller GTG with limited exposure, taking all appropriate precautions could be held with minimal risk. Face masks should be worn (with noses covered, please), handshakes should be forbidden, and hugging and kissing are just plain out. Any sign of a rise in the percentage of positive cases should result in cancelation of the GTG.
Given those ground rules, I would feel comfortable attending, but again each member would have to make that decision for themselves.