Seattle’s Big Comic Con Is Going Ahead, Despite Coronavirus Fears

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Seattle’s Big Comic Con Is Going Ahead, Despite Coronavirus Fears

Despite there currently being a reported 13 cases of Coronavirus in Washington State, and two deaths, the organisers of the Emerald City Comic-Con have pledged to go ahead with the show, which is due to be held March 12-15 at the Washington State Convention Centre.

In a statement released earlier today Reedpop, the company responsible for organising the show (and may others worldwide, from PAX to New York Comic Con), said:

Emerald City Comic Con wants to express our concern for everyone impacted by the COVID-19 virus in the State of Washington and around the World. We are proactively monitoring the situation as State agencies take proactive measures to ensure health and safety and prepare for and respond to the COVID-19 virus in the State. As always, the well-being of our global ReedPOP community, from our attendees and exhibitors to our staff on-site at every show, is of the utmost importance to ReedPOP and we take pride in creating a positive environment to celebrate comics, cosplay and pop culture.

ECCC 2020 will take place as scheduled March 12th -15th at the Washington State Convention Centre (WSCC) in downtown Seattle. We have implemented enhanced cleaning and sanitisation across the show, including adhering to the recommendations set forth in the U.S. EPA’s Emerging Pathogen Policy regarding cleaning disinfectants effective against the COVID19 virus. We are working closely with the WSCC and our other venue partners and aligning with local, state and federal public health guidelines and agencies. As ECCC approaches we will be constantly reviewing our health protection activities, public health messaging, hygiene and medical control measures with the aim of strengthening our COVID-19 response further in line with up to date public health advice and guidance, including that of the CDC.

The Governor, Jay Inslee, declared a state of emergency in Washington on Saturday, with one of the most recent cases in the state involving a high school boy who had not had contact with previous recorded patients, suggesting that the virus is now transmitting locally in the area, which basically means they caught it without having travelled to an already-infected zone and had not had direct contact with one of those already recorded as having been infected.

Last year’s Emerald City Comic-Con had almost 100,000 attendees, drawing guests not just from the local area but nationally and even internationally.

In the past week we’ve seen everything from GDC to EVE Online’s annual fan gathering to Overwatch League matches cancelled or postponed as safety precautions, while companies like Sony pulled out of exhibiting at PAX East.

We’ve contacted Reedpop for comment on the decision.

Comments

  • Good on them. Seriously, the world can’t stay locked in our rooms for the next 18 months because of wall to wall mass media hysteria.

    Use lots of hand sanitiser, don’t kiss strangers and move on with your life.

  • This is a terrible idea.
    I am a medical officer in Australia. Contrary to popular myth spread by those who pretend to know something about virology, but who actually don’t, Corvid 19 IS more deadly than influenza A or B. It isn’t as deadly as SARS, but it’s still deadlier. The flu kills hundreds of thousands in North America alone every year – most of them elderly, yes, but it also kills those with suppressed immune systems and those who are unlucky enough to have a sustained severe immune response to the virus – 30 year old people have been killed by the flu, I’ve SEEN it myself.

    Corvid is up to 20 times deadlier than the common cold, according to some reports. It’s hard to know exactly how deadly it is, but most estimates are that it kills 1~2% of those infected. Again, most of them are old (it doesn’t appear to affect the young), but some doctors in China, in their relative youth, have died of this.

    It is also EXTREMELY infectious.

    If Corvi 19 spreads like the flu, then we are looking at MILLIONS dead, in a relatively short time period. It won’t be as bad as the flu of 1918, but I remind you that the 1918 pandemic flu had a case mortality rate of about 5%. The 1% case fatality rate is less, but it’s still high enough to completely clog the health system of any nation, divert needed resources away from other medical issues and disrupt the economy.

    Comic-Con can wait. Although to be honest, a pandemic is almost inevitable at this point, restricting mass gatherings still reduces case load and strain on hospitals. I know the organisers have paid and fans want to attend, but please – hold off.

    Sincerely

    From a soon-to-be-overworked doctor from Australia

    • Out of curiosity, when the tenants of your hypothetical investment property can’t pay their rent because they can’t get shifts and their company goes bankrupt, will you be happy to let them stay for free?

      Because let’s be honest, we’re not just talking about Comic-Con, are we. There is no practical difference between Comic-Con and football games, schools and universities, shopping centres, and pubs and clubs. And it will be 12-18 months until an effective vaccine is widely available.

      What economic cost do you consider reasonable imposing on the rest of us in response to what is currently two cases of confirmed person to person transmission within Australia?

      • Oh please. Let’s not pretend that conventions are business as usual with regards to potential viral exposure.

        These are stand-out, high-impact anomalies that could and should be cancelled to yield a high return of safety relative to the cost.

          • Are you kidding me? Beyond it being self-evident, intuitive, logical, there’s plenty of evidence provided by the World Health Organization around the risks and impacts for Public Health and Mass Gatherings. Google that for all the peer-reviewed evidence (linked to by the Events Council no less) that you could possibly ask/sealion for.

          • Indeed, but you can’t just cherry pick your mass gatherings here.

            And in any case, the WHO has made no such recommendations about either Australia or the United States with respect to the current crisis. Mass event cancelations in the absence of any such recommendation by the health authorities is just responding to mass media and social media hype.

            But look, nobody is stopping you from stocking up on noodles and staying inside for the next 18 months if you wish. More power to you.

        • Where exactly do you think the people going to Comic-Con are going to hang out if not there? Football games, schools and universities, shopping centres, and pubs and clubs, perhaps?

          Conventions are every day activites. In most major cities of the world there are literally half a dozen happening at any one time of the week.

          Conventions are also every day jobs, thousands of people work full time servicing the convention industry, and thosands of more in casual secondary jobs such as hotel cleaners.

          You can’t just focus on one a single convention as if it is some kind of unique snowflake-like one-off simply because that’s the one being covered in an article on a computer game and pop culture blog.

          • Population movement in this case is not some liquid that’s simply going to slop into a different event-based container. When you cancel events because of pandemics, people don’t go looking for a replacement event. They stay at home. We routinely see this around all kinds of public safety hazards that impact travel and tourism. Over and over and over again. It’s a known, studied effect.

            And the argument about ignoring safety for the sake of economics is utter garbage. There is going to be an economic cost one way or another. It can be felt through cancelling some events, travel, or it can be felt when safety is no longer a choice, but is imposed upon us more broadly and severely.

            The argument that we shouldn’t prevent human suffering and death because it might cause some economic suffering right now (ignoring that it will inevitably cost economic suffering later anyway AS WELL) is the entire reason we’re facing a climate apocalypse, and knowing this makes it an especially immoral position to take.

          • (Not to mention that the impact on viral spread of people choosing to isolate themselves in relatively contained pubs and clubs relative to a massive convention is simple mathematics. So even if people do go out for entertainment, their contribution to the rate of viral spread is significantly reduced if they stay smaller scale than the kind of convention that concentrates literally tens of thousands into one space.)

          • I’m not sure where you think the disagreement is. You keep reverting to this argument that smaller gatherings are better in some ways than larger gatherings, about which there is no disagreement other than that you seem committed to cherry picking your mass gatherings.

            And you can’t ignore the economic arguments, particularly with some nebulous assertion of equivalence. Shutting down an economy because of a literal handful of currently confirmed cases of a virus is vastly disproportionate to the likely harm, just like enforcing a mandatory speed limit on Australian roads of 15kmh would certainly cut the road toll but at the cost of bringing our economy to a stand still.

          • I’m not cherry-picking at all. My claim of ‘better safe than sorry’ stands for ALL conventions that have international attendance that approaches (or exceeds) attendance numbers close to 100,000. Don’t be hanging off the exact definition of ‘mass gathering’, now, just because it’s 1,000. It should be pretty fucking obvious that there’s an enormous difference between a gathering of 1,000 and a gathering of 100,000. A 100 times difference in pure numbers, obviously, but it’s not even a question in virus spread modelling that the higher concentration of a 100,000 person event has a heightened impact.

            Also, if you want to talk about false equivalence, your reduction to absurdity is a prime example. Where the nation’s economy as a whole would be driven to standstill by overreactions in speed limits, cancelling events are a) not overreactions, no matter how much you keep trying to claim they are, especially when medical professionals everywhere are arguing against you on this, and b) only affect a few industries that make up a significantly smaller portion of the national economy.

            So no, the examples are nothing alike, your assertion that this is ‘shutting down the economy’ is an absurd extreme that equates a few industries to ‘the economy’, and experts everywhere are taking to whatever avenue will let them warn the public, arguing that the response is not at all disproportionate.

            Reducing the vectors by which this virus can spread by reducing anomalies (like 100,000 strong attendee conventions) is not alarmist or fear-mongering. A TV morning show host asking, “So when should we panic?” (the answer is: never. Panic is useless) is mass/social media hype, health industry recognized experts appearing to caution, warn, and provide advice is not. And their advice is often (if not always, simply because it should be fucking obvious) to avoid these type of LARGE mass gatherings. The WHO doesn’t need to blanket declare all of these worth cancelling, worldwide, because it’s always going to be down to the local circumstances. And it’s already happening. Major, large events are being cancelled all over the place (on professional advice), not just geek conventions. And not just in/attended by people from China, the only epide– ohwait. Japan. Korea. Italy. Iran. What day is it? Give it another couple days and let’s see what other nations are on that fucking list.

            When the pandemic IS eventually declared (WHO quote: “A matter of when, not ‘if'”), it’s not even going to be a matter of argument about whether it’s prudent to take that financial hit in those specific industries and local economies. Event Industry discussions are now focused on response and recovery, the impacts on insurance and contracts.

            Catch up. This isn’t some hypochondriac’s beat-up. Every person qualified to be listened to on the subject can agree: this is going to get a lot worse. How bad it gets is up to how we respond to their advice.

            Calling it ‘fearmongering’ and continuing to blithely hold human petri dish events that viruses LOVE is not a good response.

  • Biohazard gear was already required to navigate comic cons, so virus epidemics should be no big deal, I guess.

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