As we look forward to the New Year, the initial outlook does not look good but, oddly, this may make the long term forecast better.
Here is what we know as of today. Currently, all states that are part of the Midrealm are in the middle of a COVID-19 infection surge with new infections at a rate at least as high as last winter when the SCA was shut down. We are looking at 300-700 new cases per 100K people (CDC, 2021), and this is expected to increase. The new Omicron variant has started circulating. Based on data from the UK, this strain is predicted to become the dominant variant within a week or two and the number of cases will likely double every 2-3 days (UK Health Security Agency, 2021). With the new variant showing an R0 as high as 10 compared to 7 for Delta and 4 for the original variant this is a problem (Burki, 2021). An R0 is an average of how many new people a single infectious person can expect to infect. The higher the number the faster the spread is expected to occur. No data is yet available to indicate that the Omicron variant is more infectious outdoors than the Delta or other variants. However, close contact when unmasked carries the risk of contagion, even outdoors. This risk increases when there is some indoor gathering (restrooms) and less stringent social distancing and masking (Bulfone et al. ,2021). In short, we are in the middle of a surge in infection.
What does this mean for the Midrealm in the short term, and for fight practices and events in January? Many counties are reporting a rate of 500 cases per 100,000. This means that a 200 person event, statistically, has one infected person attending. Given what we have seen with infectivity, that one person will make between 8-18 other people sick. It means that we are concerned. It means that event stewards, seneschals and marshals should seriously consider if the advantage of holding an event is worth the risk of holding said event. As Their Majesties already indicated, the choice to attend an event is a personal one, and no individual is required to attend, neither is an event required to occur. If the local officers and populace do not feel comfortable hosting the event, they are not expected to hold it anyway. If you don’t feel comfortable traveling and staying in hotels and eating in restaurants then we do not expect you to do so. Be sensible, follow the science, make adult decisions.
In the long term, after a rapid rise in cases we expect an equally rapid decline and possibly safer events for early spring. Meanwhile, stay safe, mask up and go get that booster shot.
Yours in service
Helewyse de Birkestad,
Middle Kingdom Seneschal
Bulfone TC, Malekinejad M, Rutherford GW, Razani N. Outdoor Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and Other Respiratory Viruses: A Systematic Review. J Infect Dis. 2021 Feb 24;223(4):550-561. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiaa742. PMID: 33249484; PMCID: PMC7798940.
Burki TK. Omicron variant and booster COVID-19 vaccines. Lancet Respir Med. 2021 Dec 17:S2213-2600(21)00559-2. doi: 10.1016/S2213-2600(21)00559-2. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 34929158; PMCID: PMC8683118.
CDC. (2020, March 28). COVID Data Tracker. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved December 28, 2021, from https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/index.html#cases_community
UK Health Security Agency. (2021, December 28). COVID-19: Omicron daily overview. GOV.UK. Retrieved December 28, 2021, from https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-omicron-daily-overview