I'm just a fat gal with a blog and an opinion. Well, lots of opinions.

Conferences, Concerts, and Gatherings…Oh My!


How does one assess their risk when the data is hidden or hampered at every turn? That’s what this is really about. Humans like to gather and socialize and much of our capitalist society has been built upon not only consumption but big collective consumption. Big sporting events and concerts in arenas make huge amounts of money on tickets, parking fees, concession stands, merchandise, lodging, and more! This summer there were some huge headliners touring the entire world during a global pandemic. While many other headliners have had to cancel and postpone shows due to illness. You will almost never hear that they cancelled due to a covid infection because of the insurance policies for these things. They can simply say “mystery illness” or similar things to remain vague. The artists performing in these shows are doing so at a huge risk to their own health and livelihoods, but it does seem that the profits outweigh all of that. Behind every solo performer is a massive team/company of people working in support of that artist, and they are all putting themselves at similar risks in the name of these tours/artists. Each individual that attends these concerts is paying a hefty sum to do so, as well as risking their health and livelihoods. Before you buy that ticket, can you afford to lose your health? For how long?

I am a self professed music nerd. I love the history, the art form, the connections between styles and influences, it all gets me very excited. I can talk a blue streak about it, and I have attended hundreds of concerts in my life so far. I won’t even get into ticket prices now, because I will forever be mad about that and Ticketmaster in general, but the price people are paying with their lives is what I’m focusing on here. You can save up to buy a concert ticket, but there’s no way to save up your health for later times. It’s not a points system, ya know? Because ohmigosh I wish I could! When The Cure announced their tour in the spring, and I discovered that they would be playing at a nearby outdoor amphitheater, I was excited and hopeful. The fact that Robert Smith, singer for The Cure, worked tirelessly to ensure his fans wouldn’t be ripped off by Ticketmaster, I was so impressed and pleased. I hadn’t heard such pushback since Pearl Jam in the 90’s. I signed up for their waitlist and presale things and then never heard a thing again. I never even knew what the tickets would have cost in the end. The Cure are definitely one of my all time favorite bands ever, and I have never seen them play live. You can imagine the heartbreak of not being able to go when they were so near and yet covid was nearer still.

I did all I could to assess my risk, plan how and what I would pack to feel safe. It’s outside right, so less risk! Except, it’s still an amphitheater with thousands packed in for the show. I went to my employer’s holiday party and danced the night away in an N95 mask, so I felt like I could do it. The more I thought about it, and checked my county’s wastewater reports for covid infections, the less I felt comfortable making the choice to go. I had even reached out to an acquaintance who is also a big fan and covid smart but even they were apprehensive about it. I have been to plenty of shows alone before, but not during a pandemic. The way people are behaving more aggressively in public settings in 2023 is also very off putting and being in a big crowd like that just felt like a nightmare. So I stayed home and played their music and had some wine and danced around my little apartment. I watched tons of clips of their shows online and cried at the NYC show clip of Robert singing Plainsong to his wife standing in the wings. So beautiful! When all is said and done, going to a concert is not something anyone actually must do. It is considered a leisure/pleasure activity, and while enriching, not necessary for survival. Just because we want and yearn and long for something, doesn’t make it necessary or safe. There is no way to gather that amount of humans, in this pandemic specifically, without hundreds getting covid. 

Now that covid related data is becoming less and less tracked/monitored/tested/reported, it is nearly impossible to truly know what the full risk of any given situation is. I think this is at least one part of why a lot of people just don’t seem to care anymore. Even those that do just sort of wear a mask and hope for the best. It all feels very impossible. How are any of us supposed to “go back to normal” in any sane way? We’re not! “Normal” wasn’t even working before the covid pandemic. Refusing to care about precautions especially when you don’t know the risks is self defeating and unethical. Those insisting we go back to pre-pandemic living are literally stuck in the past refusing to keep up with the times and adapt to our rapidly changing environment. Those masks that prevent viruses from entering our airways also filter toxins from wildfires and dust/pollen during allergy seasons. They also prevent what far too many believe to be mild or everyday infections like colds and flus (there was never a summer flu, stfu, it’s covid). We never should have accepted any of them as a normal part of life. We are discovering now that exposure to even generic old cold viruses before the pandemic may have made many of us more susceptible to not just worse covid acute infections, but long covid specifically. 

There is so much we were not told about covid. At first we just didn’t know everything, but we did know a lot because Covid19 is SARS2, we already had a SARS1 in the 00’s and many who survived those initial infections have been suffering ever since. Instead of working with that knowledge and framing public health policy and offering resources based on it, leadership in most countries (New Zealand had it right from the start!) chose the path of least political resistance and have since withdrawn nearly all support and resources. Nothing has changed with the pandemic or the virus except those policies and removed resources. People have been dying by the thousands every week just in the USA this entire time, but it is so much worse now and no one is talking about it. We have some treatments for the acute infection phase, but bureaucracy has fucked that up so hard! Someone I follow on twitter had Paxlovid prescribed to them for a course of ten days, but their insurance would only cover/approve of 5 days worth. They were not allowed to even pay out of pocket for the remaining amount prescribed, it was simply withheld. So when leaders tell you we have the tools and treatments, they only mean for themselves, not us.

Those boosters everyone is talking about coming out soon that has raised the hopes for some? Yeah, you won’t be able to get them unless you’re over 65, or severely immunocompromised*. And the MRNA vaccines that we were told would protect against newer variants, waned in its effectiveness after 3 months, to be useless really after 6 months. There is a new Novavax booster coming out that does cover the newer variants and has sterilizing qualities within the lungs, though not preventing infection or transmission, would hugely reduce the worst outcomes for all who can get it. Except no one in the USA will be able to get it because it isn’t produced by the two major pharma companies that have our gov in their pockets that gave us the shitty ones. Our leaders were never truly forthcoming about asymptomatic infections being the biggest spreaders and who specifically is vulnerable to the worst outcomes, it was always framed as “those other people will get super sick and die but you’re okay.” They said we should wear masks to protect ourselves but never pushed or explained 2 way masking or offered quality masks (KN95)/respirators (N95/P100) to those who cannot afford them. In fact we were told that any mask was fine and that we should leave the respirators for healthcare and essential workers. They dropped the big mandate but never actually said it was safe to stop wearing masks. It’s all politically driven and I am amazed at how many swallowed it whole without questioning it.

Now no one is wearing masks except those who know they are high risk or immunocompromised or live with someone who is. Everyone I know IRL eats in restaurants. Even insisting they sit away from others to “reduce the risk”. Which sounds good but that is now how airborne pathogens work! You have to think of it like cigarette smoke, if someone was smoking a cigarette across the restaurant from you, would you still be able to smell it? If you were alive in the 80’s you know the answer to this. I will save my newer thoughts on the insistence to eat in restaurants for another post, but you can almost always get your food to go. So why not go to a lovely park or take it home and watch your fave show, too? When you remove your mask you are not just taking the risk for your own health, either. Those essential workers everyone pretended to care about are being forced and harassed to not wear a mask, and you know no one gets much in the way of sick days/pay in the USA. Think about this for a moment, please. The lowest earners providing “essential” services with zero protections just so you can be served inside of a restaurant. 

“At least we have tests!” Yes, we do, but no one was fully informed on the timing and technique required to get a true result, and many new variants aren’t showing up positive until after 3-5 days of symptoms and no one is testing enough to pick up asymptomatic cases. Free testing sites are gone, getting tests through your insurance is not always reliable, and most cannot afford to buy multiple tests all of the time. I am happy to share that even if your home tests have expired, look them up because most have had the expiration dates extended. I keep up on these things for work, even though I am no longer required to, but I simply a.) give a shit, and b.) kind of can’t stop now. The more I learn the better I can protect myself and I have done very well in that regard, thank you. I do not understand how most folks don’t have that same curiosity and need for more information, but I’m okay with being a weirdo. At least my version of weirdness causes no harm to others. While going out in public maskless around others, yes even outdoors, is absolutely causing harm and even disabling and killing people. I do not want that blood on my hands, so to speak. Just because I don’t live with someone high risk doesn’t mean I don’t want to protect myself and others from the same infection that has robbed me of some of my mobility, most of my energy, caused organ damage, and prevents me from living a fuller life. Wearing a mask seems a small sacrifice of mild and temporary discomfort if it means protecting people from this horrible virus.

There is a new variant of covid that is presenting with only GI Issues and not fevers and respiratory symptoms. This means that many will ignore it and spread it thinking it is food poisoning or something else. Many employers are now not allowing folks to quarantine at home with even an acute infection, most schools, too. There is no stopping this virus with wishful thinking and strict “come to work no matter what” policies. Hospitals are no longer wearing masks, even oncology clinics that have been wearing masks for decades to protect the most at risk patients receiving treatments to live have dropped them. It is unconscionable! We must speak up and be insistent about these things, our lives are literally at stake! Healthcare workers have always worn masks with infectious or vulnerable patients. It is because of the politicization of them that they have stopped, some even lamenting they were worn to begin with. Next they’ll insist hand washing is asking too much. We have the science and data to back up and prove that the protection and mitigations work, but our leadership in every sector has failed us spectacularly. 

There was never going to be hybrid immunity or herd immunity. There was never going to be a true vax and relax way to approach this virus. Covid19 has won. Humanity has lost sight of itself in the face of capitalism. Yes, we are all too tired, overworked and underpaid because of it, too. It is because of this repetitive grind we’re all stuck in that we have been unable to assert our collective power to insist on better things for us all like healthcare and less oppressive employment laws. The USA never had a lockdown, we didn’t even have a true shutdown. Those griping about this and learning loss and how masks don’t work or cause anxiety are only repeating the nonsense the media has pushed on them. This has all been proven to be untrue, regardless of how loud they are about it. If what I wear on my face triggers their rage and righteous fury, that is a them problem and not a me problem. My masked face affects no one. Their rage and harassment is dangerous. Them being wrong and rude could be deadly. Me being right or wrong affects no one. 

There is a way to have gatherings and attend conferences and things safely. First, offering a virtual attendance option should be the norm at this point. It makes your event or gathering more accessible to all. Broader accessibility is never a bad thing! Charge for it, preferably at a sliding scale, so even more folks can join too! When planning your event, access the air flow/ventilation/hvac filters whenever possible. I may be just a simple office manager (ha!) but I know exactly when our hepa filters are replaced and where the vents are and flow to. I have gotten pretty good at identifying these things in other spaces too. Ask questions before reserving a venue! Require masks! This should be a no-brainer! Requiring vaccines is ridiculous when the efficacy of all of them has waned completely and not everyone can access them if they don’t have insurance now that the emergency fed funding has been ended. Again, nothing has changed with the virus’ deadliness and damage, only the funding has gone. Provide access to outdoor areas for people to eat and drink in. Let your speakers/performers know that it is okay to keep their mask on. Have someone to monitor that masks are worn and worn properly. If you see a nose uncovered, it’s like a dick is hanging out of your pants, fix that shit! Simply saying masks are required isn’t enough, but you don’t have to be a jerk about it either. If protections and mitigations are framed from a place of community care as they should be most folks won’t even question it. If you can, provide air purifiers/filters, build Corsi-Rosentjal Boxes for your event. They are a much more affordable option than commercial purifiers. 

The amount of people dead or disabled from others insistence on old world normalcy is unfathomable to most, but I will never forget. People who insisted on having weddings and parties and big vacations unmasked, they may never know specifically who they harmed, but they absolutely fucked up people’s lives permanently. If they were your loved ones? That is on you! We are all we got. We have to protect ourselves and each other. Our leaders aren’t leading! So we have to step up our game in order to survive. That is not hyperbole. With every infection your risk of having long covid increases. You do not want long covid! You really don’t want covid in your body at all if you can help it, but even if you do, you don’t want to share it. I know my mitigations and precautions work because when I had my only covid infection I also had an out of town guest staying with me for four days in my little apartment. I didn’t know I had it yet, but I made sure to wear an N95 and keep my car windows down while masked too. At home I had an air purifier and big box fan going the whole time. My guest never got it and the friend they visited directly after who is very vulnerable, also didn’t get it. The day after they left town is when my symptoms started. These things work! But we must be informed in order to make them work properly. 

Most people cannot believe that covid can disable or kill someone. It doesn’t mean it isn’t true. The damage this virus causes in every organ is not reversible on its own. This thing will be in us forever, and will very likely come back to bite us all in a few years time, like many others before it. It also makes otherwise dormant things pop up like shingles, auto immune diseases, diabetes, cancer cells can reactivate and explode. Oh and if you think you’re not high risk, you need to look at it from a couple of different ways. How will you get treatment or be treated in an overfilled hospital? Are you fat? Do you know how healthcare professionals treat fat people? Yeah, you’re high risk for dying not because of your body size but because of the ingrained biases and stigmas within healthcare! Have you had a covid infection before, even mild or asymptomatic? You’re now immunocompromised! The damage done to our immune systems after any covid infection (symptomatic or not, tested positive ever or not) means you are more susceptible to any and every infection under the sun! This is why there’s rampant fungal infections exploding everywhere. And if you don’t have it and you are seeking healthcare for something unrelated? You are much more likely to get a covid infection in a hospital or medical setting currently, and there’s little you can do about it until they mandate masks again.

So you see, when we are trying to make informed choices in our lives, especially about our own risks with covid infections, we need a lot more information to truly make those decisions. Letting it rip is only easy if you have no conscience and don’t have to look the people you’re killing in the eyes. The more informed we are the better armed we are when we assert our power and demand better resources for everyone. Everything is connected, y’all! It is so clear to me (and it all boils down to capitalist white supremacy). Please wear a mask around other humans. If you take nothing else from this post, make it that! You are worth protecting. We are all worth protecting! Our government is very much okay with a lot of us dying from their profit-driven policies. It doesn’t mean we can’t do all we are able to in order to live a longer and more fulfilling life. I would love to see more virtual options for everything. I would love to see movie and other theaters have masked only showings and public information about their hvac/air filtration online. It is so hard to find places with spaced out outdoor seating, and I live in California. There is so much more we can do to make spaces safer for everyone and the information is out there.

If you would like more information about anything in this post, please leave a comment or email me (see below). I am happy to provide a plethora of resources. I send cases of masks to friends who have run out. If you’re in need of masks, reach out, I will do all I can! 


I’m here for realness and sincerity, honesty and vulnerability, I’m here for the good and juicy bits of life that shine for me when I know I’m heading in the right direction.

Rad Fatty Love to ALL,

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