This Editorial Is Authored By UsagiMed Intern and Writer Allison Marrero
Con season is back! Anime, comic, and gaming conventions across the U.S. have been returning, with events like Katsucon, Holiday Matsuri, and Anime Weekend Atlanta scheduled to take place in the upcoming six months. Some events have already occurred though, with one of the biggest conventions in the east, MegaCon, having taken place in Orlando this August, boasting over 100,000 attendees over four days.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March of last year, I, along with most con-goers, have been steering clear from the convention scene due to health and safety concerns. However, MegaCon stated online that they would be heavily enforcing attendees to keep their masks on at all times except during stationary eating. I decided to attend for the full weekend and see how the mask and distancing guidelines carried out.
To Mask, Or Not To Mask? As of June 13th, over 300 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the U.S., with 43.6% of Americans being fully vaccinated. However, alongside these growing numbers, the CDC has been changing their mask and distancing guidelines, currently advising that vaccinated Americans are not required to wear masks and can resume participating in activities they did prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, many schools are returning to fully in-person instruction, eliminating remote and distanced class settings, and many states have lifted their mask mandates as well.
January has so far been the deadliest month of the COVID-19 pandemic (US deaths). There’s lots of optimism on the horizon, but we may still yet be “in the woods” for more months. Physical health and safety isn’t the only important thing, mental health is, too. As anime lovers and con-goers, we’ve got a big hammer in our toolbox for this: Comfort TV.
What if I told you that you could punch COVID-19 in the face?
COVID-19 has been in the United States for at least eleven months now, and we don’t know when this nightmare will be over. But what if I told you that you can help the United States to get “back to the new normal” faster? If you’re reading this blog post, you probably already volunteer with an anime convention. You know all about how to put on a large event and keep thousands of folks moving and grooving all day and all night. So helping to get shots into the arms of 500 to 10,000 people? That’s small potatoes for you.
That’s right. You can help with vaccinations. Hear me out:
Keep Your Con Safe in 2021: With COVID-19 cases at all time highs, many conventions have been cancelled or postponed in efforts to keep attendees safe. However, some conventions are still continuing, but with strict safety guidelines and population control to maintain a safe and healthy environment. To keep your convention (or any big event) safe in 2021, here are some mandates you should enforce:
Here we are in early January of 2021, and the hangover from the 2020 holidays continues to darken our skies. People have grown tired of the 3 W’s: Wearing a cloth mask, Waiting 6 feet apart, avoiding close contact, and Washing hands frequently. Instead, people travelled far and wide to see their loved ones for the holidays, gathered together for meals and lodging with folks they didn’t live with, and didn’t wear their masks. “What could be the harm? It’s just me making this trip the one time.”
The problem is that most people don’t know they’ve been infected with COVID-19 for several days, during which time they are infectious. And humans believe in patterns – if someone has managed to evade the virus for 9 months so far, they may think they are somehow safe now. But the risk has only been going up and up as the prevalence of COVID infection increases. The days are short, the weather has been inclement, and folks don’t want to only meet up outside. They want to celebrate together, and with Americans, that often means food. Food means removing your mask to eat, often sitting down in one place for a while. How could something so cozy be dangerous?
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the con, No anime stirring, no art was drawn; COVID-19 hung over everyone there, We dared not stir–too deadly to share; Our people were nestled in costumes they made, Disappointed pandemic had squashed what they played.
I was going to write out an entire poem like this called “A Visit From Totoro” about COVID avoidance tips for the holidays. But then I read a headline about the Yankee Candle company being bombarded with negative reviews because people are claiming their candles have no scent, and I just couldn’t do the poem thing, anymore. (Loss of the sense of smell is an early sign of COVID-19.)
Look, I know the holidays demand a certain kind of attention and energy. I know people expect that holiday gatherings should happen. That the whole gift-giving and food-sharing thing is a matter of strict tradition. And while I know that a lot of families out there played it safe, it seems clear that a lot of them did not. We should all find this frightening and saddening.
We’re all adults here, right? If you’re not an adult, skip to the last blog post. But for the rest of us, we need to have a frank talk about how COVID-19 may impact your sex life.
Protected Sex Is A Necessity
COVID-19 has changed the way we maneuver our public lives, from mask mandates to social distancing. However, it’s crucial to stay safe in our private lives as well, especially when it comes to sexual encounters. Now more than ever, protected sex is a necessity. Whether hooking up or dating, it’s important to be conscious of our decisions when engaging in sexual activity, and remember how we can keep ourselves safer in these trying times.