I hear…the scribblings of researchers…
With COVID numbers nearing last holiday season’s highs, festivals and music events, big and small, inside and outdoors, continue from Tucson to Flagstaff.
The Lucky Buck Music Festival happens pretty much all day Saturday, Dec. 11, from 2 to 10 p.m. at Lucky's Indoor Outdoor at 817 N 2nd Street on Roosevelt Row in downtown Phoenix—arguably the center of Arizona music.
Live music with local bands starts at 3 p.m., including reggae-rock jammers Fayuca, Rio Grande, the Hourglass Cats, the Jake Grantham Band, and more. The event is free.
But are these gatherings safe?
Scientists, medical researchers and amateurs have been grinding away at data, as we approach—but hardly celebrate— two agonizing years of COVID in America.
One study suggests that, in this pandemic, surrounding yourself with women might not be a bad idea (is it ever?).
Colorado State University researchers looking at the spread of COVID-19 in performing arts settings stumbled on an interesting twist: Men spread the coronavirus particles more than women or children.
Seventy-five participants sang “Happy Birthday” and other songs in a CSU chamber that tested particles in the air. "Singing definitely emits more particles than talking," according to the leader of the research project.
As they generally have larger lungs, men spew out more particles, potentially laced with COVID; and the louder you sing, the more particles you eject, noted John Volckens, a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.
A key paragraph in the story:
“Volckens said indoor venues which are louder are at greatest risk for spread of COVID-19. Loud enclosed locations like bars, sports arenas and concert venues can be susceptible to high levels of spread. Volckens said other events, like a ballet with infrequent loud audience responses, are more safe than a concert with thousands of screaming or singing fans.
The Colorado conclusions seem to be supported; according to a Boston Globe story a few weeks ago; here was something I call “a fishy aftertaste” to a certain jam-band’s shows:
“Music fans from Massachusetts to California have been flooding social media with reports on a series of concerts they attended in Las Vegas over Halloween weekend. But instead of raving about the setlist and extended jams, many are posting COVID-19 test results and seat numbers in a mass effort at grass-roots contact tracing.”
One post ("COVID positive from Vegas”) had 500 replies, according to the story, “many saying they or their friends tested positive after attending the shows by Phish, a band with deep Vermont roots and a Grateful Dead-like following. The band played four packed shows at the 16,800-seat MGM Grand Garden from Oct. 28 to Oct. 31.”
Noteworthy: Phish required fans to show proof of vax or a recent negative test.
The story, published about a week before “omicron” became the latest world villain, reached a disturbing conclusion:
“The reports are sparking fresh concerns about the potential for large indoor venues to trigger mass-spreading events just as COVID infections and hospitalizations climb in many areas of the country.”
A reason for the Phishy spread may be that few followed rules:
“In interviews, Phish fans described a crowded venue with poor ventilation and few people wearing masks, despite a Nevada law requiring their use in indoor public settings...”
Here in HARK Valley, most large venues and many smaller ones have similar restrictions.
Local joints requiring vax and/or recent negative tests include the Celebrity Theatre, Crescent Ballroom, Marquee Theatre, The Nash, The Nile Theatre, The Rebel Lounge, The Rhythm Room, Valley Bar, Walter Where? House, and Westside Blues & Jazz.
But Americans don’t like any hints of challenges to precious “freedom,” and Arizona is probably in the top 5 states of “don’t mess with me” attitudes.
I was just driving in North Phoenix behind an SUV with a big UNMASK TYRANNY sign in the back window.
Is requiring mask-wearing like throwing someone’s face in jail?
Are officials over-reacting?
Is it safe to go to a show?
We may never really know, but another recent article (published, again, just as omicron started its swift spread) is quite interesting:
In a Lancet Infectious Diseases study, researchers set about comparing COVID positivity rates in those who attended a large, live concert on May 29, 2021, in Paris and in non-attendees. “They assessed adherence to mask-wearing by means of an artificial intelligence tool…
“The results showed no significantly increased SARS-CoV-2 transmission risk in attendees compared with non-attendees.”
A potentially crucial piece to the Paris study: “Global mask adherence among concert goers was estimated at 91·4%.”
Also, 20% who attended the concert previously had COVID; and half had at least one vaccine dose.
The bottom line, according to the Lancet report:
“Even in a crowded, indoor event and in smaller closed settings, universal mask use has been shown to be effective.”