Folknotes, August 5, 2021

Folknotes, August 5, 2021
From: Neil Harrell, President, Queen City Balladeers
Subject: Proposed September Reopening Postponed
Earlier this year, once vaccines were readily available, the members of the board and I had hoped that we would be able to reopen Leo Coffeehouse in September.  With that in mind, on July 19, 2021, we held a board meeting on Zoom to discuss reopening.  Despite my personal reservations about reopening, due to what I saw as the probability of another COVID-19 surge, we decided to reopen September 12.  Attendance would be limited to members who 1) could prove they were fully vaccinated and 2) who were willing to wear a mask.  Socially distanced individual performers would be able to perform unmasked.
A week later, on July 26, we met again on Zoom to plan the first month of Leo gatherings.  The format for the first month would be a song circle followed by an all night open mic (mic-less or possibly with sound reinforcement).  If things went well, we planned to progress to a more normal format in the following months.  After this second meeting I put together a lengthy newsletter to QCB members to share these plans.  However, before I could send it out, the latest revelations about COVID-19 hit the news and it was tabled.
Summary of the news (Reference links are provided further below):  
  1. COVID-19 infections are rising again throughout the country, including in our area.  (My guess is that we are at beginning of the surge that I feared.)
  2. The prevalent, more infectious COVID-19 Delta variant is infecting people who are vaccinated as well as unvaccinated.  It is responsible for the latest surge.
  3. People who have been vaccinated can become infected, show no symptoms, and can pass the virus on to others as easily as an infected person who hasn’t been vaccinated.  Including to those who aren’t able to be vaccinated: people with certain medical conditions and children/grandchildren under 12.
  4. The CDC recommends that people, both vaccinated and unvaccinated, wear “masks in indoor public spaces” in “high-transmission communities.”
  5. “Nearly every county in the Tri-State now has substantial or high transmission of COVID-19, triggering new guidance from the CDC on mask wearing and testing.”  This includes Hamilton County.
  6. The latest COVID-19 surge is the result of not enough eligible people being vaccinated.
The board met again in an emergency meeting on August 2.  During that meeting we decided to postpone reopening indefinitely until we have more information about the latest surge and the safety of gathering together at Leo.  We are really just playing an educated guessing game here, using the current recommendations of doctors and scientists.  None of us know if the restrictions we were planning to require would keep members safe at Leo, or not.
I know we probably have members who feel like we should open, and I know that there are others who won’t attend if we do open.  Queen City Balladeers is not the board’s club, it belongs to all of us.  We (the board) are just the ones who have volunteered to run QCB.  Not an easy task given the current circumstances.
As a few of you know, my wife is experiencing serious health problems.  As a result, I will likely not be able to spend as much time as I have in the past running Leo Coffeehouse when it reopens.  In fact, it’s likely that I won’t be able to run the stage and sound, or possibly even attend Leo on Sundays at all.  Even if my wife wasn’t sick, I would be inclined to stay home until the pandemic is no longer a threat.  To me Leo isn’t worth the health risk, especially when I have many other things that I like to do that don’t involve being in a crowded room.  The bottom line is that I am probably not the best person to lead QCB when Leo eventually does reopen.
That said, if a group of members feel strongly that we should reopen and an individual is willing to take over to make it happen, I would be more than willing to step down as president.  I will also be happy to share my knowledge of the sound system and my general knowledge of running Leo.
In the meantime, we will keep things going with our musical Zoom meetings.  I know they are not the best, or most far-reaching, substitute for our live meetings at Leo, but those of us who attend enjoy them.
Everyone stay safe.
Neil Harrell,
Queen City Balladeers/
Leo Coffeehouse

Reference Links:
Washington Post, 7/29/21
“The agency [the CDC] advised that people who live in high-transmission communities wear masks in indoor public spaces, even if they’ve been vaccinated. It also recommended that vaccinated people with vulnerable household members, including young children and those who are immunocompromised, wear masks indoors in public spaces.”  
PBS, 7/29/21
“Without more people getting vaccinated or taking precautions to slow the pandemic’s rising momentum, especially in places with surging cases, the progress made against the coronavirus could slip away, creating conditions that invite the virus to evolve further. Walensky said warned, ‘The big concern is that the next variant that might emerge — just a few mutations potentially away — could potentially evade our vaccines.’
“That means that people who are fully vaccinated should still be cautious, avoiding crowds and continuing to do ‘all the things that help’ to prevent new infections, said Dr. Eric Topol, a cardiologist, scientist and author who founded and directs the Scripps Research Translational Institute.  ‘You got your vaccine — you’re great,’ Topol said. ‘Don’t give it a stress test.’”
ABC News 7/29/21
“As of Thursday, 882 people were tied to the Provincetown outbreak. Among those living in Massachusetts, 74% of them were fully immunized, yet officials said the vast majority were also reporting symptoms. Seven people were reported hospitalized.”
CNN, 7/30/21
Vaccinated people are safer, but they can still get infected and shed the virus at the same level as a unvaccinated person. 
WVXU, 7/30/21
“Nearly every county in the Tri-State now has substantial or high transmission of COVID-19, triggering new guidance from the CDC on mask wearing and testing.”

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