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Drug Positive

Welcome to Drug Positive with DanceSafe founder Emanuel Sferios. We are the risk reduction and benefit enhancement podcast removing shame and stigma to save lives and end the drug war.

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Feb 2, 2021

It's been almost a year since the pandemic ended mass gatherings. A year without live music and festivals has taken its toll on many of us. When will they start up again? In this episode I discuss the latest COVID science to try to find an answer to that question.


Rough Transcript

Hi everyone. I’m back, and once again . . . I know it’s been a long time since my last episode. I’m not even gonna apologize this time, because in the end just gets ridiculous. All I’m gonna say is that I do INTEND to produce episodes more regularly. And I will at some point. But … so much has been happening in my life it’s crazy. I’ll tell you about it briefly, and then we’ll get into the episode, which is about covid and festivals. Basically… when festivals are likely to start happening again.

Ok, but me first… Here’s what’s happening… A few months ago, in my last episode I told you about my mom and her dementia. And thank you everyone who wrote me with your sympathy and words of encouragement, and those who asked me how she was doing. It’s actually quite interesting. She’s doing maybe 70% better, but she does still have dementia. It wasn’t all about the medication she was on. If you remember I was hopeful her problems were all about this one medication called pramipexole, and that once I got her doctors to discontinue it, she would get better. But it really wasn’t that.

It was another whole month before she improved. But here’s the thing… I believe it was the covid that fucked with her brain, and that during those few months she had it, IT was responsible for wiping out her short term memory. I mean she couldn’t remember what we spoke about from moment to moment. She’d literally say the same thing over and over, not realizing she just said it. But when she finally beat the covid, she slowly got better… I mean… 70% better, which is huge… and that just doesn’t happen with typical Alzheimer’s. With typical Alzheimers, it’s a steady downhill. You don’t get better like that. You may have good days and bad days, but her improvement is dramatic. I really have my mom back. And I plan to visit her as soon as I’m allowed to travel internationally, and as soon I get a covid vaccine. She just got her first shot herself a few days ago.

But here’s why I think the covid affected her brain so much. You see, this virus can strike anywhere in the body, and there’s a lot of cases of people who get cognitive problems when they get covid, problems that can last a quite while. You’ve probably hear of post-covid brain fog. There’s a lot of people talking about that, but there’s even covid-psychosis. Seriously. Some people who get covid literally become psychotic, as in full-on schizophrenia type psychotic. It doesn’t seem to be permanent, but these are people with no history of mental illness. Totally weird.

So we know this virus can affect the brain, and it can also produce lots of different symptoms all over the body. And so… here’s my theory… Again it’s just just a theory. But what I think is that some of these non-standard symptoms that some people get… meaning more than a cough and fever and stuff, depend on the particulars of a person’s immune system, and particularly, where that person might be experiencing inflammation. Preexisting inflammation.

Everyone has SOME degree of inflammation. There’s so many toxins in our environment these days. So many foreign things getting into our bodies. And our immune system tries to recognize them and attack them, but sometimes it gets confused and attacks our own tissues instead, even after those toxins are gone. And this can cause chronic pain and disease. Inflammation is so common in fact that we take it for granted. Inflammation is the number 1 cause of pain and illness … by far. When it gets way out of hand people get diagnosed with autoimmune disorders, like ALS, multiple sclerosis, arthritis. You name it. There are so many. But … for the vast majority of us, inflammation remains mild. So we just take ibuprofen on occasion. But the thing is… it tends to strike in the same place when it does. Wherever a person might get inflammation, that’s generally where it stays.
And so Alzheimers is correlated with brain inflammation. My mom was already in the early stages of Alzheimers when she got covid, which means she already HAD some inflammation happening in her brain. Then she got COVID and her main symptoms were in her brain. A total loss of short term memory.

So I think what’s going on is that her immune system was already primed to attack the neurons in her brain. So when she got covid, the cytokines that attack foreign invaders, as well as that cause inflammation, mainly went there, and they went to town there.

So I think that covid is more likely to affect areas in your body if you already have inflammation going on there. And this is why it’s hitting people with preexisting diseases so hard, because so many of them, like Alzheimers, are a result of inflammation, of the immune system being a bit out of whack.

Anyway, that’s my theory. And that’s my mom. She’s doing so much better. Again thank you everyone who wrote me, with your love and support.

And let me just say one more thing before I move on from this. Remember in my last episode I gave a list of things you can do to prevent dementia. Well, here’s one more thing I learned… Tack this on to the list I gave in my last episode. And that is. Eat more fiber.

You see, fiber feeds the good bacteria in your colon that excrete anti-inflammatory molecules that prevent brain inflammation, molecules that sweep up cytokines and keep them in balance. And Alzheimers is highly correlated with low levels of these molecules.
This could be why Alzheimers is on the rise… especially in the west, in the US and Northern Europe, because our diets suck and we don’t get enough fiber.

So what are these bacteria in our colon that we need to keep happy? The first thing to know is they aren’t acidophilus and bifodus. Those are good bacteria also, and you can buy those in supplement form. Everyone knows about those. But we’re talking about different bacteria, lower down in your colon. And you can’t eat them for whatever reason. They can’t be put into supplements. So how do you increase them if you can’t eat them? And the answer is… you feed them. Well, you could also get a fecal transplant where you stick some healthier person’s poop up your butt… and yes, this is really a thing. But let’s not go there right now. And easier way to increase the number of these good bacteria in your butt is simply to eat fiber. That’s what they live on.
So eat more vegetables people. I know I sound like your mom, but in this case your mom was right. Feed those good bugs in your poop and they will reward you by pooping out anti-inflammatory molecules in their poop, which will prevent dementia later in life. No joke. And remember to exercise and take your psychedelics regularly also.

So another reason I haven’t put out any new episodes in a few months is that … a few weeks after my last episode, I had to go to Florida, because the pandemic basically killed my family business and I had to go down there to shut it down. It’s a dry cleaners… which has been in my family since 1937. My sister and I inherited it when our father passed away in 2012. But when covid hit people stopped going into the office for work, and so they stopped wearing dry cleanable clothes. So we lost 60% of our business almost instantly last March, and it hasn’t improved at all. So we basically had to close it, and I’ve been dealing with that, which is a lot of work.
But at the same time I wanna tell you something really good that’s happened in my life, and that has ALSO taken up a lot of my time. And that is I’ve met someone super awesome. Her name is Becky and she lives in Michigan. She’s a friend of friend and we started chatting back in September and we really hit it off and so we’ve been spending time together. She flew down to Florida when I was there and stayed with me in my RV and we took a trip around Florida and I just recently drove her back to Michigan, where I am right now. So… in the middle of all this trauma and death and financial collapse and NO FESTIVALS… something actually really good happened to me in 2020.

Anyway, that’s what’s been happening with me. Living in my RV. Mailing out fentanyl testing strips. Get them at everyone. Test it before you ingest it.
Okay… let’s get on to the episode! Festivals. When are they gonna happen again? And let me say first I’m talking here about commercial festivals. I’m not talking about small private events. I’m talking about the big festivals we all love. With music and drugs and port-potties and thousands or tens of thousands of people.

I miss them so much! The last one I attended was Hulaween in Florida, back in October of 2019. And the last indoor concert I saw was Mark Farina in El Paso in early March. I took 2C-B and holy shit! We danced for hours in a packed nightclub wall to wall with tons of sweaty strangers. I mean, if anyone had covid in there we all would have gotten it.

But it was so much fun. Dancing to music on psychedelics with others… is my medicine. Like it is for so many people. And we haven’t been able to do that, really, in a year. And people are suffering because of it. Depression and mental illness are skyrocketing. Not just because of the lack of festivals, but the entire social distancing phenomena. A friend of mine just posted on Facebook today a photo of herself crying because of what she says has been the lack of human touch since the pandemic started.

I think I’ve faired better … emotionally … than a lot of people. I get so much of my social interaction online anyway, and verbal communication is really my mainstay. Speaking and writing. So I’ve been able to maintain that. I also don’t get depressed much anyway. I’m lucky in that regard. But I miss live music and dancing in groups. Dancing alone just isn’t the same. And recorded music isn’t the same as live music. Seriously there’s evolutionary, biological reasons for that. I’m actually gonna do a podcast episode about it one day. Humans ability to appreciate music… evolved in us for social bonding purposes. It’s really important for our mental health. And one of the problems in general with modern society in general is that those experiences are often limited. To begin with. Even before covid. But now it’s terrible.

I miss festivals for another reason too. And that is… usually, I attend festivals with DanceSafe, the nonprofit I founded … 22 years ago. I spend a lot of time at festivals at the DanceSafe booth testing drugs for people. We’d actually just finished fundraising for two spectroscopy machines that we were going to start bringing to festivals before covid hit. These machines shoot a laser into the powder … and because every molecule reflects a different spectrum of light, it can tell every drug in the sample with precision. Super cool drug checking technology. And right when we got the money to buy them… Boom. Covid ends festivals.

The last event DanceSafe did was Gem and Jam in Arizona last February. That actually may have been the last big festival that’s happened in the United States. Almost year ago.

I’m also worried about the chapters. The DanceSafe national office is doing ok. People are still buying test kits. But because there’s no festivals, our local chapters around the country have nothing to do, and I’m really worried if this situation lasts another year, we may have to almost start all over again, organizing local chapters.
The festival culture … OUR festival culture … is beautiful. And I miss it so much. Burning Man, Lightning in a Bottle, Shambala, Symbiosis … My favorites. Electric Forest… there’s too many to name. When are they going to start up again?

That’s what I’m gonna talk about now. And of course, it’s all about the pandemic. So I’m gonna get into the science of covid…. Covid science… virology, immunology, epidemiology … it’s kind of taken over my intellectual life this past year. I been a non-stop researcher. It’s actually one of the reasons I decided to do this episode. To get some of it out of my system. Maybe then I can get back to making regular podcast episodes about drugs.

But anyway, here’s the main thing about when festivals will happen again. They won’t happen again until they’re safe… until they won’t become super-spreader events that lead to deadly covid outbreaks. And this applies to all mass gatherings. The most dangerous events of all… the one’s that lead to the most fatalities in the long run, are large, mass gatherings … because you have thousands of strangers coming together, and then they go back to their respective communities, spreading the virus far and wide.

So when will mass gatherings no longer lead to deadly covid outbreaks? Or specifically, when will enough scientists, public health professionals, lawmakers, promoters and attendees, BELIEVE this to be the case. Because that’s really when they’ll happen again.
And so I think the general answer to this… or where the discussion begins is … when enough people are vaccinated. It’s more complicate than that, but let’s start with that.

Let me tell you about the vaccines first. The main thing to know about the two current vaccines out there, the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, is that they likely won’t prevent you from getting infected with covid and spreading it to others. They will only prevent you from getting a severe, systemic infection.

Fauci and the media aren’t really talking about this too much. I think they don’t want to turn people off from getting the vaccine, so they aren’t saying things that could be construed as negative. But many virologists doubt that the vaccines will prevent infections and transmissions. Why? … It has to do with the route of administration. The vaccines are injected into your arm. They contain messenger RNA that cause the muscle cells in your arm to temporarily produce molecules that resemble parts of the coronavirus spike protein. These molecules then stimulate your immune system to produce antibodies, which circulate in your blood.

But these antibodies don’t easily get into the epithelial cells in your upper respiratory tract. So what they think is that the coronavirus will likely still be able to take hold there, infect the cells in your nose and throat, and start to multiply. And then you can breathe those virus particles out and infect others around you.
Immunologists have actually known about the importance of vaccine route of administration for a long time. It’s the reason why the later polio vaccine was oral rather than injected. You see… the first polio vaccine prevented severe illness, paralysis and death, but it didn’t prevent people from actually getting polio and passing it on to others. And this is because the antibodies had a hard time reaching the epithelial cells in the gut, where polio first takes hold. Polio is spread from feces. Virus particles in feces can get onto food or in water in a number of ways and then when someone else ingests them, they bind to epithelial cells in the intestines, where the antibodies in the blood can’t easily reach.

Epithelial cells, by the way, are the cells that divide the inside of us from the outside of us. Like skin cells. So they’re at the periphery. The farthest place from blood flow.

So when scientists realized this was happening, they developed a second polio vaccine that you swallow. The weakened virus particles in the oral vaccine then hit the epithelial cells in the gut first, stimulating a direct, localized immune memory right where it needs to be. An immune response that involves T cells and B cells, which I’ll talk about soon, but the oral vaccine is the only reason we’ve pretty much eliminated polio from the world today. Not entirely but almost.

So … why not make a covid vaccine that you inhale, or squirt up your nose? Well the answer to that they’re too dangerous. Inhaled or insufflated vaccines, in animal studies, cause way too much inflammation in the upper respiratory tract. Many of the animals die or have severe complications. So we’re nowhere close to getting an upper respiratory tract administered vaccine. It’s gonna be an injection in the arm, and so it’s likely only going to prevent severe covid infections.

I just read an article yesterday, btw, about the NovaVax vaccine, which isn’t available yet, but which seems more likely to prevent all forms of infection. Even mild infection. Even though it’s also an injection in the arm. I need to research it more. But basically it’s a different type of vaccine from the mRNA vaccine that causes triggers T-cell and B-cell adaptive memory more than the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. So keep that in the back of your mind. I’m only talking here about the two vaccines currently available.

And what they indicate… is that we’re not going to see vaccine festival passports. In other words, we’re not going to see festivals where you can go if you prove you’ve had a vaccine. Because even though you and the other attendees aren’t likely to get severely sick, you will likely still be able to spread the virus around to each other, and then take it back home and spread it to people in your community.

So that means we really need to see enough people vaccinated… as in at least a few hundred millions people in the US, before ay mass gatherings will happen.
You know, everyone’s talking about this 80% figure to reach herd immunity, but herd immunity is a dubious concept with coronaviruses. There is no herd immunity with any of the other coronaviruses that produce colds, despite them being around for thousands of years and the entire population getting infected. And that’s because antibodies for coronaviruses typically fade away rapidly. And we’re finding the same this is true with this coronavirus. It looks like antibodies last about six months. Maybe more and maybe less for some people. But there’s already been hundreds of documented cases of people who have gotten covid twice.

There’s no herd immunity with the flu either. Right? So … covid, like the flu, and like other coronaviruses, may never go away. We may never eradicate it. And if not, there’s never gonna be herd immunity, despite what the media is saying. We’ll just have to learn to live with it. This is seriously something to consider.

One piece of good news here is that there is some t-cell and b-cell adaptive immune system memory that happens with natural infections. Not just antibodies. And that may mean, over time, subsequent infections get less and less severe. Some virologists think that the other coronaviruses, the other common colds, may have begun with more deadly viruses, and then became milder over time, after initially killing a lot of people. So that may happen with this one too. We don’t know. But either way, if that IS true, it would definitely take a long time.

The better news is that the vaccines seem to work well in preventing severe infections. So if enough people get the vaccine, and if they confer this immunity to severe infection for long enough… then festivals SHOULD be able start up again. Which leads to how long will it take to assess whether this is the case. But before I get to that, let’s talk about the potential problem of all those people who aren’t going to get vaccine I the first place.
People have various different reasons for being skeptical of the vaccine. But in general there’s two large groups. This is from national surveys. The first large group are Republicans, Trump supporters most likely And the second large group are African Americans. The reasons these two groups are skeptical of the vaccines are probably different, but they’re both because of political beliefs, not science. Republicans are generally more opposed to public health because they see individual liberty as paramount, which is why there is a large percentage of Republicans who oppose the vaccines. And African Americans have a long history of being experimented on medically. Including vaccines. It’s a horrible history and I won’t get into it here, but that has caused some skepticism in a large percentage of the Black community.

Of course you’ve also got some people who are skeptical of the covid vaccines for scientific reasons. But that’s a much smaller number of people. Those first two groups are by far the largest. And so… how many people are we talking about who might refuse to get a covid vaccine? And how is that going to impact the reopening of festivals?

Surveys show it’s about a quarter of the population. Maybe up to a third. So we’re talking 25% to 33%… that puts us somewhere close to the 80% mark Fauci is talking about that we need for pretend herd immunity. I call it pretend because again, if they don’t prevent infections and transmissions, but just severe infections, then there is no herd immunity. But anyway, nobody knows whether we’ll get to that 80% of the population vaccination figure.

Also, I don’t think the vaccine will be mandatory, at least not for many years. There are mandatory vaccines, of course. Measles, etc. But I can’t see the government making covid vaccines mandatory until they have a long enough tract record of safety and efficacy. Plus, covid doesn’t kill very many children, so unvaccinated people aren’t jeopardizing children. That’s an important piece of this. Also, the vaccine may not prevent transmissions anyway, so unvaccinated people may not be different in that regard to vaccinated people. Anyway, the point is just that there isn’t going to mandatory vaccines. So how many people need to voluntarily get a covid vaccine to prevent festivals from causing deadly outbreaks?

That’s a hard one to answer. But it might be the wrong question, anyway. Because I think that once the vaccine has been around long enough for anyone who WANTS to get vaccinated CAN get vaccinated, then at some point we just gotta say that anyone who refuses to get vaccinated is pretty much only putting themself at risk. I mean they’re making that choice… and it doesn’t really impact others that much… right? Because children aren’t at high risk to begin with, and the vaccines themselves are likely NOT going to stop transmissions.

So one would think at some point down the line, when the vaccines have been available long enough to everyone who wants one… and if they remain as safe as they appear to be now, and if they protect from severe infection for a significant amount of time, say at least a year… then even if a quarter or a third of the population refuses to get one… at that point … we should be able to have festivals again. Right?

Maybe. I think the real determining factor is going to be the numbers, but before I get into that, I want to talk a bit about how covid is transmitted, and how infections happen, and how someone can protect themselves, and others, from severe infection. Because one big part of this is staying outdoors, and so you would think that because festivals are outdoors, they might be able to happen sooner than indoor mass gatherings. And they might. But it’s more complicated than that.

I personally think being outdoors, with six feet of spacing between people, with masks, is 100% safe. This theoretically means outdoor music gatherings can happen right now safely if they mandate proper social distancing. And some events are doing that.

But obviously these aren’t mass gatherings. They’re small outdoor events. I don’t think large festivals could do this. There’s just too many people. The dance floors are too crowded. Keep in mind it only takes 15 minutes to become infected if you’re standing outdoors within six feet of someone who is shedding, without a mask. That’s what the CDC defines as exposure. There’s no way most people are going to be able to avoid this kind of exposure at a festival. Masks might prolong the exposure time period, but then again we’re talking about people dancing, which means they’re breathing way more heavily. And people never keep their masks on all the time. And you can’t enforce this.

And then you got the whole porta-potty thing.
So while I think it’s possible to have socially distanced outdoor music events, I don’t think it applies to the kind of large festivals we’re talking about.

So let’s talk more specifically about how covid is transmitted. The first thing to know is that the virus is airborne, and the vast majority if transmissions happen from breathing it in. In fact, there isn’t a single known case of surface to mouth transmissions. I’m not gonna say it can’t happen, but it’s just never been documented. So it’s not nearly as important to wash your hands as it is to avoid contaminated air. Restaurants that disinfect surfaces but don’t have ventilation and air filters aren’t doing anything to help. That’s just theater.

And make no mistake. This virus is airborne in EVERY meaning of the term. It can become fully aerosolized and float around all by itself in the air, AND it can float around in micro droplets that come out of people’s nose and mouth when they breath and talk. In the air in both senses of the term. We knew this back in April. Scientists knew it. And it was a scandal that it took the World Health Organization until the Summer to finally admitted it. But that’s another story I won’t get into here.
The good news is that one particle isn’t going to infect you. You need to breathe in a large enough dose of the virus to actually get infected. Exactly how much, as in how many particles, nobody knows. Doing studies on this, called “challenge studies,” would be unethical. But the concept here is very important. And to understand why it’s case, I’ll walk you through how an infection happens…

So… say your standing close to someone without a mask and they are infected and breathing out virus particles, or say you’re indoors where there are virus particles floating around in the air everywhere. You breathe these particles in and out your lungs, and depending on how many you breathe in, some of them get trapped in the mucus membranes of your nose, in your sinus cavities, and in your throat. Possibly some even get trapped in your upper bronchi, but that’s less likely because there isn’t much mucus in your lungs. Some of those virus particles die in the mucus, but some make their way through the mucus to the epithelial cells below them, and attach to ace-2 receptors where they can enter the cell.
If they do get in, the virus hijacks its DNA and gets the cell to start making more of itself. At least that’s what it WANTS to do. And if it gets that far, it’s called an infection. But there’s a chance, if you get a light enough exposure, that your killer T-cells will kill them all off before they start replicating. Killer T-cells can recognize when a cell in your body has a virus attached to its surface, and they kill the cell. Killer T-cells are an important part of our immune system. They don’t kill the virus itself. They kill cells infected with a virus. And they can kill them quickly, potentially even before the cell starts replacing the virus.

This means you can be exposed to the virus without getting infected, if it’s a light enough dose. And this can stimulate an adaptive immune response among your T-cells, which may be a bit helpful later on if you get exposed again.

And … you can also get MILDLY infected, where the virus DOES start replicating, but it doesn’t spread very far.
In fact, most infections appear to be mild like this. The killer T-cells kill the infected cells quickly, and antibodies kill the rest of the virus directly, before many other cells become infected.

To be specific… You have killer T-cells that recognize when when of your own cells has a virus attached to it, and it kills the cell. Then you have helper T-cells which recognize the virus and tell the B-cells to create antibodies for it. The B-cells create the antibodies, which bind to the virus and mark it for destruction. Then other immune cells come along and destroy it.

So it’s pretty complicated. You’ve got killer T-cells and helper T-cells. B-cells that make the antibodies. And then a bunch of other cells, called cytokines, that come along and kill any virus that has an antibody attached to it.

You really don’t need to remember all this. The important take-away is just that most infections are resolved naturally by T-cells, B-cells and antibodies in the upper respiratory tract. And some exposures are resolved by T-cells even BEFORE any antibodies are produced.
That’s good news obviously… so long as you get a light enough exposure. But you’re not out of the woods just because you got exposed once and had a mild case, or were asymptomatic. Having a mild or asymptomatic infection is a factor of BOTH your general state of health and your immune system AS WELL AS the amount of virus you were exposed to initially. The second time around you might get a gigantic exposure, which could overwhelm your immune system. We really don’t know how this will play out yet. It’s still too early.

But the point is that, just like with drugs, dose matters. So even if you are older, or have preexisting health conditions that make you more susceptible to a severe reaction, if you get a small enough initial dose you may be okay. And the reverse is also true… even if you are young and healthy with no preexisting conditions, if you get a massive initial dose. Like say your on a cruise ship… Say your on Jam Cruise, and twenty people on the ship are shedding the virus, and all the air is being recirculated and you’re breathing in virus particles with every breath… that many virus particles could overwhelm your T-cells and B-cells and antibodies and might make you sick, or kill you, even if you’re healthy.

Scientists call the initial dose the “viral inoculum.” How much of the virus you get inoculated with. This is different from viral LOAD, which is the maximum amount of virus IN your body at a given time during the course of your infection, AFTER it has started replicating.

Virus inoculum is the reason indoor locations are the most dangerous places you can be, and it’s why fatalities are skyrocketing now too, during the winter. Because people are spending more time indoors. Also the cold and dry air tends to evaporate respiratory droplets faster, releasing the virus and making it airborne more quickly, before the droplet can fall down to the ground, bringing the virus with it.

Winter increases not only transmissions, but the average dose people get, leading to more fatalities and raising the case fatality ratio.

This is why I try not to share indoor space with people outside my quaran-TEAM. Right now that means me and Becky. And this is also why masks remain so important. Masks reduce the amount of virus that gets into you. Remember those cruise ships early on where tons of people were dying? The case-fatality ratio on those ships was enormous. Like 15%. Then we had the initial lockdowns, and then later some cruises started up again, but this time with mandatory mask mandates. On these masked cruises that had outbreaks, the results are telling. They had pretty much the same percentage of infections. But the case-fatality rate was far lower. This is because masks reduced the amount of virus people were getting exposed to… so even though they got infected, they were less likely to die. This is just one of many pieces of evidence that masks really do work.
Anyway, back to festivals and when are they gonna happen again? I think with all the science I just explained, as well as a sizable percentage of the population skeptical of the vaccines, it’s gonna be a while. They’re definitely not gonna happen this year. Fauci says we may have enough vaccines rolled out for everyone by the end of the Summer. And technically that’s before Burning Man, and before Hulaween. But I don’t think they’re gonna happen, because even if we get 75 or 80% of the US population vaccinated by then, we still don’t know how long the vaccines work. What if they only last six months? Like natural antibodies?

I think we need to know this first. And other things. So the real measure is in the numbers. What’s really going to decide when mass gatherings can happen again are when we see the rate and number of covid deaths drop significantly, and stay down for a long time. Only this is going to demonstrate that the vaccines are working. Steady declining numbers.

How many daily deaths do we need to get down to, and for how long? I don’t know. But consider this… In a BAD flu year we have maybe 50,000 deaths. We’re going on 500,000 deaths in the first year with covid, and that’s even WITH all the social distancing we’re doing. Without social distancing it would have been many millions. So I’d say we’re gonna need to see fatalities get down to more than 100,000 a year, or about 275 deaths a day, before anyone thinks we have the pandemic under control. That’s a death rate about twice that of the worst flu year.
So if the national fatality rate can get down to under 275 deaths per day and stay there for say, six months at least, I’d venture to say festivals will start again. And for sure that’s not going to be until Summer of 2022 at the earliest.

Keep in mind also that other things will reopen first, like restaurants and movie theaters, long before mass gatherings. But if the fatality rate stays low during the reopening process, festivals and mass gatherings will follow. In fact they will symbolize the end of the pandemic.

Can we keep our culture together until then? I don’t know. I don’t even know if it’s TOGETHER right now. We may need to start over to some degree. DanceSafe will likely need to create many new chapters from scratch. And what about all the other folks in the industry? Vendors, medical teams… A lot of them went out of business. Some may have new jobs. And with no profits for two years, will promoters even have the capital to hire enough staff right away? Seriously, it might take a while to build the culture back up. But we’ll do it, right? I mean it’s our culture. We love the music. We love the dancing. We love the drugs. We love the music and dancing and drugs TOGETHER with other people. It’s medicine. It’s in our genes. Nobody has ever been able to stop music and dancing and drugs.

So be patient. We’ll get there eventually. Right now we just need to stay safe.