A recent newspaper article about superspreaders — stadium events, concerts and outdoor festivals that effectively bathe crowds in Covid-19 — noted that a boisterous fan can spew viral particles that remain airborne for as long as 12 minutes. There’s additional evidence that when we steep in this microscopic spume for a couple of hours, as occurs when crowds are densely seated, it increases the ‘dosage’ of the virus and therefore its ability to do harm. This is scary stuff, especially since no one really knows how we’re going to deal with it. And yet, in the same newspaper, on the same day, we read that concert promoters expect to be back in business in 2021, that airlines foresee a resurgence next year, and so do the cruise lines. Say what? Do they perhaps know something that you and I do not regarding the imminent availability of a miracle vaccine? Or are they absurdly optimistic simply because they have chosen to believe a different set of facts, however illogical? The mainstream media has done its part making it easier to be more upbeat on reopenings than the blog world that you are in at this moment, gushing content without attempting to make coherent sense of it. Why ruin an upbeat story with depressing facts, especially if you are beholden to advertisers for your survival?
A local newspaper, the South Florida Sun Sentinel, offered a holiday-weekend entertainment section on Friday that listed myriad activities and events certain to attract an audience that will have endured its limit of cabin fever. A local night club owner who advertises heavily in print media took the opportunity to do a little PR for the club, which features live jazz, blues, salsa, blues and a well-worn dance floor. “I’ve seen some places that could care less about the rules, could care less about social distancing,” the owner said. “Some people are coming back into this world in the proper fashion, and some people … it’s the wild, wild west.” It is quintessentially American to say “Damn the torpedoes!” and we wish this guy the best. But whether we will visit his club or take to the dance floor in sufficient numbers to make the place come alive and be profitable once again is a question that will hang over the nation’s entertainment colossus for many months, if not years.
Cruise Line ‘Superfans’
The cruise business in particular will face particularly difficult challenges trying to lure back vacationers. The Sentinel’s headline put an entirely different spin on the story, however, with this headline: Cruise Superfans Are Eager to Set Sail Again. Of course, you, I and just about everyone we know are as eager to set sail on one of these floating petri dishes, as they’ve been called, as we are to take the family to a salad bar and a movie. But not Gail Raines, the cruise superfan to which the headline alludes. “Raines, 55, is among a loyal contingent of South Florida cruisers who book trips like clockwork each year, rack up rewards and enjoy onboard perks like free champagne,” the reporter noted. “For them, a cruise is not a one-off vacation. It’s a way of life. ‘It’s just what we do,’ she said.”
All over America during the holiday weekend, there were crowds in most of the usual places. But they were all constrained from fully enjoying themselves by rules that will remain in force indefinitely, presumably until an effective vaccine becomes widely available. For the time being, however, the crowds will not be spending in the normal way, since opportunities to do so are limited. The summer blockbuster movie that might have grossed $300 million will be stay-at-home affair with an economic impact far narrower than in summers past. The crowds are mostly just spectating, and there is nothing on the horizon to suggest they will become paying customers any time soon.