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Megaplex holds large furry gathering - one fur tests positive for COVID

Edited by GreenReaper
Your rating: None Average: 3.7 (7 votes)

For the first time since January 2020, one of the eight largest furry conventions opened its doors to an in-person gathering. Megaplex 2021 saw 2,889 attendees on the first weekend of August 2021, ~80% of 2019's pre-pandemic total. $50,000 was raised for the C.A.R.E. Foundation.

Staff set COVID-19 policies and required masks in most cases, doing their best to make guests comfortable while cautious of the viral crisis that plagues our world. Unfortunately, despite all their efforts, one vaccinated individual said they tested positive after the event.

As pressure continue to rise to get things back to normal, reported COVID cases over the past few weeks have started to amass concern. The rate of reported cases in the United States suggests a spike in infections and hospitalizations on an early exponential trajectory starting around mid-July. This is especially worrisome given that the growth for the first wave in the United States was linear in Summer 2020 before growing exponential that Fall.

This time, however, unlike 2020's wave that touched everywhere fairly evenly sooner or later, the second wave is so far biased toward certain states suffering the brunt of the impact. Looking at the 50 states, it appears to be based on a combination of tourism and the state's political actions. Florida, as a result, is one of the worst hit, with its seven day moving average already over the peak of its highest prior infection wave.

Florida Rise in COVID-19 cases, showing 24,573 new cases reported on August 11

A false sense of security?

There are obvious concerns about holding a large gathering in the midst of new, more contagious variants, in a country where only half the population are fully vaccinated. Even worse, while the vaccines are effective at helping one resist the worst symptoms of the disease and lowering your viral load, you can still become a carrier that could spread the contagion to others if exposed for extended periods. The person reporting to have gotten COVID from Megaplex had been vaccinated themselves. You may not transfer it as easily as those with no protection what-so-ever, but it does not provide immunity.

With these kinds of stories, those looking for any excuse not to be injected have pounced on these “breakthrough cases” to question the effectiveness of the vaccine and continue to refuse to take it. However, the biggest surge of the increased infection rate has been via unvaccinated individuals, in states where a lower percentage of the population is vaccinated.

But while making these arguments, instead of suggesting that we need to be more cautious about opening public gatherings, since these vaccines are alleged to ‘not work’, the United States’ political actions have shown an opposite belief, in that the current circumstances have completely eradicated the virus. Hanging a mission accomplished banner on the aircraft carrier, giving a sense that those who got vaccinated are enough while coddling the insecurities of their constituents that are wary of taking the vaccine.

It is that worse-case duality of political actions in states such as tourism-heavy Florida that pressures the politicians to open the floodgates of their tourism industries, while ignoring that there is a man eating shark in the waters. The movie Jaws clearly has become more timeless over time.

Due to this government position, conventions like Megaplex may not have much of a choice in whether they hold their event or not. If they hold it, they risk the lives of furries; if they don’t, they risk breaking contract with the hotel and being homeless for when or if they ever could open up again. So should the worst happen, try not to blame the staff of Megaplex as much as the circumstance - and state - they found themselves in.

A wary eye toward the future

As cases are spiking back up, there are going to be many eyes on the fallout from Megaplex. Should no reported casualties or major debilitations result from this, which will hopefully be the case, then furries may decide that it’s safe to go back in the water as long as proper precautions are maintained. However, should the worst come to pass and we lose people, then this will impact the year's future gatherings.

Doc Wolverine, a self-styled "Practitioner of Medisin" who has appeared on convention panels representing their profession, gave an estimate of 6-10 unvaccinated con-goers losing their lives within six weeks. Should this occur - and given the course of the illness, we won't know until then - this will have a negative impact on attendance rates for future gatherings, whether they're actually held or not. For it’s one thing when a political leader says it’s okay to go swimming, but no words can obfuscate the site of blood in the water adjacent to a dorsal fin.

Furrydelphia, DenFur, Biggest Little Fur Con, and Midwest FurFest are still scheduled to hold in-person events this year. However, should cases continue their current trajectory, it wouldn't be surprising if restrictions on in-person events return. Especially in states not as beholden to tourism pressure politics. Of the two, Midwest FurFest might be the most at risk of being postponed again than Biggest Little Fur Con, held in the tourism-based state of Nevada.

DenFur, only a few weeks away, is requiring attendees to be fully vaccinated, and is urging attendees who visited Megaplex or another event to get tested prior to going - they will defer ticket to next year's event for anyone showing positive results.

Should the worst happen, one will hope that people do not give up working toward getting things back on track. As summer has gotten people to remember how great it is to get out and do things, perhaps they will start noting the negative impact that being unvaccinated has towards this goal, and will plug their noses and get the shot. Hopefully before yet another variant rears its ugly head.

Time will tell, as it usually does. In the meanwhile for news around COVID and vaccinations, follow Chise on Twitter, who has received accolades for her analysis of COVID-related news and articles.


Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)

One of the reasons I note that it's a combination of government behavior and tourism compared to the first wave is that Hawaii is also well over how bad things were last time. The website linked by GreenReaper does show that most states are starting on an exponential curve. Just some curves are more extreme than others.

People who have adapted travel habits and vacations were jumping for the opportunity to get back out there, and so those with higher influx vectors of tourists are showing the more vibrant signs of higher waves this time around, from what I can see.

As a disclaimer, I have been fully vaccinated and had my second shot in May.

I'm still a recluse, though.

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I think there may have been a second who tested positive since I had started to finish publishing this, so any additional information is appreciated as always.

As far as the new rules that has come up around the convention based on a situation there, there is a plan for another article for that as I want to try and keep articles on subject matter and this one was in the process of being written when the other item came up.

Your rating: None Average: 3 (3 votes)

DenFur isn't "a few weeks away", it's a week from today. Given the Delta surge that's going on and the recentness of MegaPlex, it doesn't seem like it's wise to attend DenFur at the moment. DenFur has yet to reveal how they will be confirming attendees' vaccination status and how it will deal with folks who test positive or show symptoms of Covid-19 in attendance. My wife and I cancelled our plans to attend DenFur due to the Delta surge - we have yet to hear back about whether our memberships will be able to be rolled over to next year.

Your rating: None Average: 3.3 (3 votes)

I had a feeling this would happen. And shows why I think it's still too soon for big conventions to open fully in-person. With so many people coming in from all over, someone was bound to get infected. I wouldn't personally recommend attending any conventions until early next year in 2022.

Your rating: None Average: 3.8 (4 votes)

Far as I can find on Twitter, only two Megaplex attendees have tweeted about testing positive as of now - 5 days since the convention ended. In my opinion, that's an amazingly good outcome considering where the convention took place and that the convention was legally barred from asking for proof of vaccination. As long as mask requirements are strictly enforced I think future events will remain relatively safe.

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That will be a good result, hopefully the others being held this month will have similar outcomes.

While 50% of the general population is vaccinated. There was a tweet some sassy tweet somewhere I read saying that 90% of LGBT folks are. If that's the case, I would guess that a greater percentage of furries are vaccinated than the general population, which may mean that Dr. Wolverine's estimate may be pessimistic?

EDIT = [Ah here's a second tweet with this claim:]

One can hope.

Your rating: None Average: 1.7 (3 votes)

While it seems like a decent overview, I think you are being far too lenient on the convention itself choosing to have an in-person event. That's not to say that there are not other circumstances which affect decision making; obviously there are. But, whether to go ahead in-person, is still the convention's call and if their decision is that they are willing to risk and/or sacrifice lives to have a hotel the next year or continue the convention then that is their decision and we shouldn't skirt around it.

"If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind."
~John Stuart Mill~

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Dragoneer did make that decision for lives over the hotel/convention, so guess you have at least one nice thing to say about them ;P

There is also the fact that they would have to pay for the space they rented already and lose the money of the 2,889 attendees (that they would need to refund) at the same time if the hotel plays hardball. Which they could since the government would have their back.

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I'm nervous that people would go out and attend a convention or even just eat out at a restaurant during the most deadly airborne pandemic outbreak that the world has known nearly in living memory. The US's CDC stopped looking for delta and told those who have received the experimental mRNA vaccination to take off their masks just as delta community spread was building up. They they stopped looking for breakthrough infections, even though they were not uncommon with vaccinated individuals. It was understood that this alone would not be enough to prevent a new wave of viral death, and here it is. The government's (US and UK) act was a criminal one of distributed unfocused murder and mutilation in the name of hard right ideology. Yes, Biden is a right-of-center figurehead who is not even 1/10th as hapless as he pretends. It's deeply sinister, so much so that I need a palpable need to flee this nuclear-armed empire ASAFP.

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