I want to talk about an article that's been making the rounds on social media this week, because it's perhaps the best single thing I have read yet about the novel coronavirus and the specific ways that it threatens the public, with this article managing to be both terrifying and reassuring at the same time.
The post was written by a Biology professor at the University of Massachusetts who specializes in Immunology and Infectious disease and is called The Risks - Know Them - Avoid Them. I hope you will follow that link and read it, then return here as I would like to write about it here from the context of what it means for theme parks.
The key takeaway from the post is its highlighted statement, "Remember the formulae: Successful Infection = Exposure to Virus x Time."
It's grossly irresponsible to buy into the propaganda that this virus is fake or no longer a threat - too many people are dying to say that. If you've been fortunate enough not to know anyone who's been hospitalized or killed by this disease, please give thanks for your good fortune rather than try to deny the pain being felt at this moment by so many others.
Yet we shouldn't live in crippling fear of the virus, either. While a strict shelter-in-place order was an appropriate response to this disease once authorities around the world blew the chance to track and contain it, that's hardly the only way to limit the spread of Covid-19. The professor's blog post gets into the specific ways that the coronavirus spreads from host to host, providing insight as to how we can avoid becoming infected even as we emerge from our homes.
I wrote a bit about this in my post last week, How Risky Is It to Visit Walt Disney World? The emerging consensus is that the key to stopping Covid is to keep people out of places, especially indoors, where they have sustained, face-to-face contact with others. Beyond that, it's to keep people away from environments where air or surfaces might be contaminated.
It's frightening to realize that some of the environments that the professor's post and the New York Times piece I wrote about this week identify as the riskiest — salons, sit-down indoor restaurants, and offices — are among the first to be reopened in many states' recovery plans. I fear that we are just setting America up for an even deadlier second wave of the disease, all in the name of allowing some elected officials to claim credit for some businesses making a quick buck. That's why I hope that spreading informed reports from actual experts can help keep us safe, even when our elected leaders make choices that do not.
But there is good news here, and for us, it might actually involve theme parks. Given the professor's formula, I feel a lot better now about the idea of riding a roller coaster in an outdoor theme park sometime relatively soon. If people can maintain social distancing in a park, riding outdoor attractions that get disinfected before each load, eating food picked up from mobile orders and eaten away from other parties, I think that parks can return sooner rather than having to wait for a vaccine, as some people have feared might happen.
Even some indoor attractions might be able to function safely, given proper sanitation and social distancing upon dispatch. That said, though, mandatory mask usage may also be necessary to reduce the virus' infection rate to the point where parks can return safely.
Ultimately, politicians and business people do not control our destiny. We do. That's why I've worked my whole career to help keep you informed - so that you can make the right decisions for you and your family. I hope that my coverage of this pandemic, and the links I have provided (such at this one), can help you keep yourself and your family safe... and to help direct you to the parks that will provide the safety, value, and amazing experiences that you deserve when it is time to visit them again.
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