“Is It Safe To Dance Yet?” A Comprehensive Update

[DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a doctor, epidemiologist, virologist, or health expert. This article is purely my opinion and speculation based on what I know right now, which could change rapidly. Do not base any of your short or long-term actions on any of my speculation and go by what the CDC recommends. I have no affiliation with any news organizations or other organizations cited in this article.]

I did not necessarily want to write an update so soon after my last post on this subject, but with large parts of the country opening there has been serious talk of restarting dance classes and socials and I felt I needed to address this.

First of all, I am NOT entertaining any unproven conspiracy theories. Do not waste your energy by posting them in the comments.

As we all know, large parts of the country are beginning a first phase of reopening, with the virus still spreading and a cure still a long way away. Predictably, cases are rising in the parts of the country that are reopening.

The CDC is now recommending that everyone wear a face mask in public, which some people are protesting.

A vaccine is still estimated to be about 12 to 18 months away, although some candidates are showing promise in phase one trials. Hydroxycloroquine, the drug touted by the President and others, has been proven to be ineffective and have potentially fatal side effects. Remdesivir is showing promise, but only as a therapeutic that reduces recovery time of severe cases. There is an uptick in antibody testing, but we still do not have conclusive proof that antibodies confer immunity to the virus (which means we are still a long way from “immunity cards” if that will even happen at all). Everything from llama antibodies to cannabis is being floated as a potential treatment or prophylaxis, but we do not have anything conclusive yet.

Contact tracing and selective quarantine of those in close contact with known positive cases is a long-term solution that could allow us to reopen the country and contain the virus safely, but we do not have the infrastructure in place to do this as yet.

Despite the country reopening, and maybe even partially because of it, we are not out of the woods.

The latest IHME graphs show a large delay in the expected summer drop-off of the first wave of coronavirus cases, partially due to a reduction in social distancing and the country starting to open up.

Even with cases dropping off during the summer, large dance events, with large intermingling crowds dancing less than six feet apart from one another and touching hands, are prime examples of what is known as a “super-spreader” event. As we observed in South Korea recently, all it takes is one super-spreader event to cause an explosion of new cases even in areas with the virus contained.

Worse still, if this virus follows the same course as the 1918 “Spanish Flu”, which appears to be what is happening, a brutal, deadlier second wave of the virus could be coming in the fall. During the second wave of the Spanish Flu, millions died and many parts of the country shut down entirely. Granted, it’s not 1918 anymore and things are very different, but parallels are beginning to show. China has just placed over 100 million of their citizens back into lockdown after a second wave of cases started to come up there, making a second wave here all the more likely.

So what does all of this have to do with dance? As I said, there has been some serious talk of starting in-person dance classes and large socials again as soon as later this year and I wanted to address this.

My educated assessment, based on what we know now, that holding a large dance social or a large in-person dance class any time this year is still a bad idea. A large dance social is guaranteed to be a super-spreader event, and we do not have the contact tracing and infrastructure in place to contain the explosion of cases that will result from such an event.

If a second wave does occur in the fall, holding any large dance socials is particularly unadvisable for obvious reasons.

I would say the most we can get away with dance-wise this year, as I alluded to in my last article, is small private invite-only parties of 10 people or less with mandatory temperature checks at the door during the summer when the case-load is at its lowest, and even that is pushing it, especially given that we know that this virus spreads asymptomatically.

I miss dance dearly and want to get back to it as much as anyone, but we have to be careful, responsible and methodical about getting back to normal. We will not stay in lockdown forever, or even necessarily until we have a vaccine (keeping the country shut down that long would not be sustainable), but we have to respect the new rules until we can get the infrastructure in place to open safely. No one asked for this circumstance, but this is where we are, it is what it is, and like all other crises, it’s going to take some personal sacrifice on everyone’s part to make it through.

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