…and we’re back. Despite my graduation from coding boot camp a few weeks ago, my schooling isn’t so much finished as it has let up a little bit, which still gives me more time to come back to this blog.
Unfortunately I return to this blog with the COVID-19 situation at the worst point it has ever been here in the United States. The much anticipated and highly feared second wave of COVID-19 kicked off at the beginning of November and has left a trail of death and devastation in its wake. Cases are surging out of control in many states and recent Thanksgiving travel and indoor gatherings will likely further exacerbate these surges. Hospitals and ICUs in many states are being strained to the breaking point and are close to running out of resources and staff. Many states have returned to the restrictions imposed in the spring in order to try and slow the spread of this new wave of the virus and California has reintroduced a limited stay-at-home order.
As for social dance, it has more or less stopped cold again in most of the country. Here in the Washington DC area, several medium sized events both indoors and outdoors held earlier in the fall resulted in outbreaks of positive COVID-19 cases and everything basically stopped after that happened. Most of the rest of the country has also stopped social dance, with the exception of a couple states that are continuing at near pre-pandemic levels despite reported outbreaks at dance events and some of the worst COVID numbers in the country (you know who you are).
The good news is multiple vaccines are on the way and an end to this pandemic is in sight. Vaccine candidates from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna both displayed over 90% effectiveness and 100% safety in phase 3 clinical trials and both companies have applied for emergency use authorization by the FDA. A third candidate, a collaboration between AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, demonstrated up to 90% effectiveness and 100% safety in phase 3 clinical trials and could also go before the FDA soon.
If approved, the first round of vaccines could start going out to healthcare workers and hospital workers as soon as two weeks from now. Production and distribution will ramp up then to teachers, hotel staff, and other essential workers into the first half of 2021 and the majority of the general population is projected to receive the vaccine around May or June (possibly a bit later). Distribution will be somewhat tricky as both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require storage at -94°F, but it is doable. Storage requirements for the AstraZeneca vaccine are reportedly not as stringent, making it easier to distribute.
For the remainder of this year and the first half of 2021, we will be watching and providing updates on the COVID-19 situation, the vaccine situation, and the state of social dance in the United States in Europe, as as well as preparing some new features and surprises so we can hit the ground running again once it is safe to social dance and hold large events again.
As for covering the few dance events that are happening this month into the first half of 2021, our stance is very simple. We will not cover ANY social dance event that is scheduled to happen before enough people are vaccinated to make large gatherings a safe prospect again. Based on what we know now the earliest this could happen is June, although there’s a good chance it could be a bit later than that.
In the meantime my personal suggestion would be to find another hobby until it is safe to social dance again. We love social dance, we dearly miss social dance, and social dance is our lifeblood, but the long-haul symptoms of COVID-19 in particular are very scary and are permanently debilitating. Let’s be honest: social dancing before it is safe to do so is not worth risking permanent disability resulting from a long-haul COVID infection, and this is not even touching on exacerbating the already out-of-control community spread of the virus. I personally plan to get back into bicycling for the next 6-8 months, both to replace the endorphins I’m missing from social dance and to shed some quarantine pounds in anticipation of my return to the floor.
One last very important reiteration: for heaven’s sake, please wear a face mask when you go out in public. There really is no good reason not to wear one, and covering your nose and mouth in public while a rapidly spreading airborne virus is killing hundreds of people daily is just common sense self protection as well as courtesy to others. Based on IHME data, we could save over 50,000 lives this winter with universal face mask use. Anti-maskism is some of the most toxic borderline sociopathic malarkey I have heard in all of my years on this earth. The lies of anti-maskers are easily debunked with 30 seconds of Googling, and the misinformation they spread has been responsible for killing people. Don’t fall for their stupidity. Wear a face mask.
I’ll be posting significant updates as they come in.