So we have a new global pandemic, just in time for the 2020 Comic Con season! At this very moment, MSNBC is telling me the Coronavirus death toll has risen to 5 in Washington, where I and thousands of others are headed for Emerald City Comic Con next week. King County has declared an emergency. Yesterday the Louvre in Paris closed; all over the world, exposed people are quarantined; it's all very frightening and yet so redolent of Outbreak / Contagion/ World War Z / 28 Days Later that it seems a bit surreal. Are we really in danger of dying from a new virus on the show floor?
Probably not. But it is something to consider and I encourage everyone headed to ECCC and other large gatherings to do their research on both the virus and their own risk level. If you're elderly, sick, immunocompromised or some other category of medically fragile - now is obviously the time to be cautious. There is always another Comic Con. At the same time, there are many factors in play:
- Both airports and ECCC have instituted cleansing and preventive methodologies to limit contagion. ECCC has released an official statement.
- The infected are most contagious when they are openly sick, not incubating, though that doesn't mean they can't leave the house and attend events.
- Vendors and exhibitors have asked that attendees not touch them - no handshakes, fistbumps, hugs, etc. I think that's a good idea for all of us. That said, Comic Cons are touchy experiences - I pick up a comic book and look at it, put it down, you pick it up, I touch an escalator rail after someone sneezed on it, you get the (revolting) idea. It's kind of impossible to be totally safe.
- ECCC still has - interestingly - Thursday, Friday and Sunday tickets available. I was actually going to post on this and speculate whether the Emerald City star is fading, but right now I'm just thinking: will people turning in their tickets find takers? Once it would have been a sure thing, asking Lyte to find you a buyer. Now I don't know.
- All over the country, "officials" - of all stripes - are asking people not to cancel events like voting and that presumably includes nerd festivals.
This situation is developing rapidly; it's hard to say where we'll be in three days and if ECCC guests will cancel and if maybe we'll all be living in an apocalyptic medical nightmare next week. For now, do your research and take whatever precautions you feel are necessary. And keep an eye on this situation as it evolves so you can make the best choices for you.