Thoughts on the Covid pandemic from a gamer, cosplayer, and nurse.

In the early winter of 2019, we had just been hearing about a new virus spreading throughout the world. It was SARS-CoV-2. There had not been anything like this since the Spanish Flu of 1918 which killed 20-50 million worldwide. 

It was just after Katsucon of 2020 when the number of infections really began to grow in the US, hospitals were filling up, and shutdowns soon followed. We questioned if that sniffle and cough we had after Katsucon could have been Covid or just the normal con crud. (FYI – I did not attend in 2020 because of my schedule but I was sick for a while with a cough and congestion about that time.) Our geek events started cancelling and organizations were scrambling to identify how to do so without financial losses. Contracts were scoured, looking for clauses. Force majeure was added to the event organizers and attendee vocabulary. We scrambled to find masks, bleach wipes, and toilet paper. This was new to all of us. The medical community scrambled to help those infected. As a nurse, I was in the thick of it, and it was scary. Refrigerated trucks were parked outside of hospitals to store the dead that the overflowing morgues could not handle. As a nurse, it was a rough time, and still is. 

It is now a year and a half later, we have vaccines, more research, more understanding. PPE (personal protective equipment) is in better supply. We know that wearing masks work to prevent spread. Testing is much more accurate. Disinformation, however, runs rampant on social media platforms. Our events are starting back up and organizers are trying to do what is best for their attendees and staff to keep everyone safe. Many events are still running virtually, and some are in person with CDC guidelines in place. Social distancing, masking up, and hand sanitizer, are still present. Though some people adhere to their use more than others. 

A few weekends ago, I attended my first geek event since the shutdowns, Dover Comic Con. It is more of a public street fair with all sorts of geek venders and some cosplay events. I am usually volunteering with Delaware Anime Society (D.A.S.) inside the library running the anime room, but this year, I opted to vend outside. I felt it would be safer outside. When the crowds got thick and social distancing could not be maintained, I put my mask on. About a third of the crowd outside were masked up. I am vaccinated and still, I worry about passing it on to elderly family members, friends, or patients. I have a bottle of hand sanitizer attached to each of my bags, and a pile of masks in my vehicle, ready for use at any time. Otakon was one of the bigger events that was held in-person so far this year (2021). It was, as reported by friends, less attended than in previous years. I can only assume because people are still cautious about large crowds indoors, and the emergence and proliferation of the delta variant.

As of this writing, I plan on attending Ocean City Comic Con in December 2021, I have room space at Katsucon 2022, booked a room for Costume-Con 2022, and plan on staffing AnimeNEXT 2022. However, as we head back indoors and schools reopen this fall, I will be keeping an eye on the infection numbers and medical papers issued on the subject. These plans may change depending on that information.

I do look at what is going on from a perspective that is somewhat unique working the frontlines in a hospital, working on Covid floors, and being bombarded with updated medical information, care and procedure updates every day. I know I am not the only geek working in the medical field and I hope that others in the field help spread the word that the vaccine is effective. The Pfizer vaccine is now fully approved (as of August 23, 2021 - Moderna and Johnson and Johnson are expected to be approved shortly but are still administered under EUA (emergency use authorization). I got the Moderna and expect to get a booster in the coming months. These vaccines are not a new science but have been researched well over a decade. Please get vaccinated for yourself and those you care about, your friends and fellow attendees. Mask up when asked or required, wash your hands frequently, stay home if you are feeling sick.

The vaccine and masks are what will help us to bring our events and gatherings back and bring us back to “normal.’ Whatever that may be. As I sit here, typing my feelings and observations, I look at the pile of half-done cosplays that I have been yearning to work on, but come home after each shift too exhausted to get back to work on them, only speculating at what event I might be wearing them at. I am also saving scraps of the cosplays so I can make a matching mask. I thought I would stream on Twitch more and work on more website articles and tutorials, but I am many times too exhausted to even be social online. I hope I can shake this cosplay block and of compassion fatigue and hoping that more people will get vaccinated so we can get back to doing the things we want again.

Please educate yourself on vaccine use, safety, and side-effects. Consult your doctor for additional guidance. Get your vaccine! Feel free to send me questions, but I will not give medical advice, that is what your doctor is for.

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