DisCon III Releases Third Covid Update

DisCon III today emailed members about another eight positive test results as their COVID response team continues to track contacts after the convention. Overall, seventeen people have reported positive test results, one of which was a false positive. (Cases A through E are discussed in the December 21 post “DisCon III Covid Update”. Cases F through I are discussed in the December 22 post “DisCon III Reports Four More Test Positive”.)

December 23, 2021 update

Case J

  • Reported a positive antigen test on Wednesday, 22nd December
  • Attended DisCon III Friday afternoon and evening and Saturday all day
  • Masked at all times except while eating
  • Attended several panels, visited the dealer’s room
  • Went to Ceilidh dance on Friday night 

Case K

  • Reported a positive rapid test on Wednesday, 22nd December
  • Mild symptoms
  • Attended panels including:
    • Let’s Judge a Book by Its Cover (Thur)
    • Ye Olde Costumes  (Thur)
    • History of Fabric Arts (Fri)
    • Speculative Noir (Fri)
    • Textiles and Politics (Fri)
    • Real Estate in Space (Sat)
    • But Does it Have Pockets? (Sat)
    • Inspired or Copied? The Ethics of Art (Sun – less crowded than other days)
  • Sat near the judges’ table during the Masquerade, and spent time in the dealer’s rooms and art show.
  • Attended multiple parties, including the Winnipeg party during the door prize drawings
  • Masked at all times in public except while eating at parties

Case L

  • Reported two positive rapid antigen tests on Wednesday, 22nd December and a positive PCR test on Thursday, 23rd December
  • Mild symptoms
  • Partner who also attended the convention has tested negative with both antigen and PCR tests
  • Stayed off-site, but attended the convention all five days and frequently visited the third floor
  • Attended multiple parties on Friday and Saturday nights
  • Participated in Medieval Dancing on Wednesday night
  • Attended the main events in the Diplomat and Palladian rooms every day. Watched the Masquerade and Hugo Awards. Sat in the back left corner at every event
  • Ate at Robert’s Restaurant repeatedly, most recently on Sunday

Case M

  • Reported positive rapid antigen test on Thursday, 23rd December
  • Mild symptoms
  • Partner who also attended the convention has tested negative
  • Attended the Masquerade and the Hugo Awards
  • Attended portions of the business meeting on Thursday and Saturday
  • Ate in the hotel restaurant

Case N

  • Reported positive rapid antigen test on Thursday, 23rd December, after testing negative on Tuesday, 21st December
  • Fever and congestion
  • Partner who also attended the convention has tested negative
  • Attended the business meetings and the Hugo Award ceremony
  • Attended panels including:
    • 2020 Ruined My Book (Sat)
    • From Grimm to Disney and Back (Sat)
  • Visited the dealer’s room, the filking room, and the Con Suite
  • Dined at Al HaEsh in Silver Spring, MD, on Sunday

Case O

  • Reported positive rapid antigen test on Thursday, 23rd December, after testing negative on Tuesday, 21st December
  • Cold-like symptoms
  • Partner who also attended the convention has tested negative
  • Did not stay on site
  • Visited the dealer’s room and art show Saturday afternoon, and the dealer’s room again late Sunday afternoon
  • Attended closing ceremonies on Sunday, sitting in the center front row

Case P 

  • Reported a positive antigen test on Thursday, 23rd December
  • Symptomatic since Wednesday, 22nd December
  • Was at DisCon III all five days
  • Attended the games concert and masquerade and several panels
  • Spent time in the gaming area

Case Q

  • Reported a positive antigen test on Thursday, 23rd December after receiving a negative antigen test on Saturday, 18th December and a negative PCR test on Sunday, 19th December
  • Symptomatic
  • Partner of Case B – based on timing, likely contracted it from their partner.
  • In addition to all the locations listed for Case B, attended Chicago and BSFS room parties on Friday night

What to do if you test positive for COVID-19?

  • Tell the convention at [email protected]. We will keep your name private but may share anonymized information about your activities for contract-tracing purposes.
  • If your positive test result was from an at-home antigen test, try to obtain a PCR test for confirmation.
  • Think about where you were and if you had your mask off.
  • Inform anyone you know personally and were in close contact with about your test result
  • Close contact is defined as someone who was within 6 feet for a total of 15 minutes or more within 2 days prior to illness onset, regardless of whether the contact was wearing a mask.
  • The CDC recommends a 10-day isolation period. Day zero is the first day you develop symptoms or test positive.

Best practices for your return home based on current CDC advice.

  • Unless you had contact with a person with symptoms, you do not need to self-isolate.
  • We encourage all convention attendees to test five to seven days after the convention (Thursday-Saturday)
  • Wear a mask indoors in public for two weeks following the convention, or until you test negative.

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24 thoughts on “DisCon III Releases Third Covid Update

  1. I couldn’t find COVID test kits in Washington DC, but when we got to Chicago (Lisa and I are traveling home by train: Chicago-New Orleans-Los Angeles-San Jose, with hotel layovers at each change point) there were still some in the Walgreen’s across the street. Happy to say that we’re still negative, despite having spent time in Room 525 (both the Winnipeg and Old Pharts’ parties) and the Business Meeting, where one of the reported cases (who I know personally) was located. We wore N95 masks, took our meals in our hotel room, didn’t eat anything in the parties, and when I drank (bottled water), it was lift-sip-return on the mask. Unfortunately, there were some people (including my friends) who carried around a drink of some kind as a reason to keep their masks down all of the time.

  2. My partner and I were at Discon III and tested negative this morning. We flew home on Monday, with a change at Love Field in Texas. (Sad face emoticon here.) We tested before we left for DC and had bought additional test kits for use after we got home.

  3. I feel like my spouse and I did a pretty good job, but could’ve done better. Anyway, still planning on a PCR test Sunday.

    (ETA: In fairness, the way my mind works, there’s always room for improvement in what I do.)

    Hmm, what happens when Discon III runs out of letters? A1, etc. or AA, etc. . . .

  4. It’s natural to relax around friends and when having a drink. We also tend to feel safer in enclosed spaces than out in the open. But it makes us much less safe from a respiratory virus. It requires constant attention and carefulness to overcome our instincts and stay safe. Personally, I was careful but not as diligent as Kevin, I feel fortunate to have my test come out negative.

    DisCon’s vaccination and mask policy made a huge difference. Other events that did not require vaccination turned into super-spreader events. Also, the care DisCon is taking in reporting positive test results will help minimize the spread of the virus after the convention.

  5. @Tom Becker: I feel safer in the open. 😉 But a big chunk of that is the pandemic. I used the elevator part of the time, but sometimes it made me nervous. (The stairs TBH weren’t much better, re. making me feel nervous.)

    Agreed re. Discon’s vax & mask policy! Really the reasons I attended; without at least one, I wouldn’t have gone. And without one or the other, I’m really not sure if I’d’ve gone.

  6. I sure wish Discon’s caution could have carried over to the German flight crew in the lobby on Tuesday–more than a dozen people, and only one was wearing a mask…

  7. @Kevin,

    It’s happening in New Zealand too. Here you are required to wear a mask to fly, but you are allowed to take mask off to eat & drink. I’ve been seeing reports of passengers eking out their in-flight snacks/beverages so they don’t have to put their mask back on.

  8. @Soon Lee: Flight crews are wise to that and on the handful of COVID-era flights I’ve been on, have had no problems telling people to put their mask on between bites if they were taking too long.

    @Kevin: As bad as Americans are about masking, my experience is that Europeans, tend to be worse. I have plenty of otherwise intelligent, scientifically-literate online friends from Europe who seem to think that masking is a fate worse than death. They’ll do it in a limited number of circumstances, but they’ll grumble about it immensely and won’t even consider masking anywhere that the law doesn’t require it.

  9. For whatever it’s worth, United Airlines (during the flights my wife and I had to and from DisCon III — SFO to DCA and DCA to SFO) were extremely serious about requiring passengers and crew to properly mask at all times, and slip the thing down only for the specific moment required to take a sip or bite. I was entirely satisfied with their precautions.

    I didn’t consider that situation very dangerous because airflow in a passenger jet (no recirculation only outside air quick-heated before venting into the cabin) is nearly ideal relative to the population density, and a passenger can make that even better by opening to full his/her overhead personal air-flow contraption, the one that blows directly at your face — which thus is what I did.

    On balance, I considered crowded airport passages and queues more of a plausible threat scenario — and always have. (Am son of a Pan Am pilot; grew up doing international travel.)

  10. @Rick Moen: I’m seeing some things on the ‘net that contradict your “no recirculation” comment, but I do see support for the air being safer due to how it’s handled, HEPA filters, lots of outside air used, etc. HUH, I think of planes as being dangerous in terms of the air.. The idea of blowing the fan on my face during the pandemic scares the crud outta me, but it sounds like I need to recalibrate my thinking on this.

    Of course, part of my fear is the other passengers around me. And if everyone has their blowers on (in various directions), is it really going to be as safe? Hmm.


  11. @Kendall, I’d be keenly interested to see your sources of information, in saying that cabin air gets continually recirculated inside passenger jets, as opposed to (primarily) new outside air being brought in and heated up. That is not what I’ve heard all my life, since I started flying internationally in 1963. (Of course, I’m not a pilot, as was Dad. Alas, he has long been not around to ask, and I abruptly ceased being (technically) an airline brat back in Christmas ’68.)

    If I’m correct that the overhead blower is fresh air from outside, then you as a passenger have a strong incentive to have it on full and blowing at your face, irrespective of what anyone else does.

    You may of course be correct; thus my curiosity. I’ll admit I’m used to thinking of the planes as pretty safe with quite rare exceptions.

  12. Still no mask requirements here in Sweden, though a strong recommendation to use them on public transport. Not that they will help much in such contexts, as they tend to leak sidewise. Better used in face-to-face interaction which is what they were made for. Still important with good ventilation as they only catch the larger droplets and not most of the small ones that can be airbourne for longer times.

    Airplanes should be relatively safe though, replacing the air every second minute or so.

    Myself, I’m about as bad at mask wearing as Mike Kerpan says (only wearing them on public transport). On the other hand, I’ve been quite confused at the pictures from DisCon III where people in masks haven’t cared about distancing at all. The photo of all former Worldcon heads sitting next to each was flabbergasting.

  13. In any setting where a mask would make sense (as well as a couple of settings where they don’t), they are mandated in Germany anyway. And I’m not wearing a mask outside unless I’m at a crowded protest or football game, neither of which I would attend right now anyway.

    I literally saw people hugging at DisCon, where masks wouldn’t help a lot, though people did distance in panel audiences. But that chair group photo was way too close together, masks or no masks.

  14. OK, I did some further checking on my (upthread) breezy, pre-caffeine comments about passenger jet ventilation. I did upthread exaggerate the percentage of new outside air being pumped in, sorry: Airlines cannot use primarily outside air because of the fuel that would be required to heat it all from -40ºC, so there is recirculation combined (about 50%, one source says) with new air, with complete turnover every few minutes, much better than in, say. an office building or (say) the Omni Shoreham Hotel. Modern craft run recirculated air through HEPA air filters or in some cases UV lightbars to sanitise it.

    One reason why enabling to “full” the overhead dispenser’s airflow is a good idea relates to pathogen titre. The recirculated air within from the overhead dispenser’s output comes from all over the airframe, which means it reflects an average of all occupants’ breathing output, not just the passengers sitting near you. So, you will be less likely to have a high titre of microbe exposure from near-exposure to particular infected persons: Your innate immune system deals with small-population pathogen incursions all the time; infection and illness occurs when higher titres arrive and get a foothold before the innate or adaptive immune systems can respond.

  15. Here are the current CDC Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People. For people who are fully vaccinated, the CDC recommends but doesn’t require wearing masks indoors. People who are immunocompromised are recommended to stay 6 feet apart from others, in addition to wearing a mask.

    DisCon III required all attending members to be fully vaccinated and to wear masks. I think that fully met the CDC recommendations for indoor settings. Except for the parties and situations where people were eating. And except for people who are immunocompromised.

    In general, I think hugging is quite safe, if the individuals are masked, because they are not breathing towards each other.

  16. Pingback: DisCon III Reports Two More Test Positive for Covid | File 770

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  18. @Rick Moen: Thanks for the revised & expanded information.

    @Tom Becker: When I saw a close friend for the first time in a long time, last fall (I think?), we visited and hung out socially distanced outside. But we did hug inside . . . masked . . . and we turned our faces well away from each other. I try not to pant on people when I hug them anyway, so yeah, hugging doesn’t seem all that risky. Hold your breath for a couple of seconds! 🙂

    (Though less hugging happening these days anyway. Not like I was a big hugger before, but few hugs nowadays.)

  19. “In general, I think hugging is quite safe, if the individuals are masked, because they are not breathing towards each other.”

    I don’t get this argument. Masks protect forwards, not sidewise. All masks leak to the sides, which would be worse when hugging.

  20. To be pedantic, masks are supposed to seal at the sides, and the airflow is supposed to go through the mask, not around it. Even with a mask that doesn’t fit very well, there should not be strong airflow out the sides.

    Some of my friends at the con were not wearing masks properly. If your mask keeps slipping down, it’s not working. That is a concern. I’d worry about that a lot more than people hugging.

  21. Tom Becker:

    Two weeks ago, a study was published here in Sweden about masks. It concluded there was leakage to the sides and to the sides and upwards when using masks. That this supposedly shouldn’t happen doesn’t change that it does. Sorry to say, the study was in Swedish and I haven’t found a translation to english.


  22. The way people frequently don’t have things to pinch their noses or don’t use them, I expect air more often goes up. But sure, I can look at the side of someone and see that some masks people use are horrible on the sides, like surgical masks.

    Nothing’s perfect: It’s all layers or protection — many tools to reduce risk. And we should all use as many of the tools as is practical in a given situation: vaccines, masks, distancing, etc.

    My husband pointed out to me that since I have a beard, my mask is less effective. (This had crossed my mind quite a while ago, but I forgot about it.) Le sigh. ;-(

  23. P.S. Should I shave and remain cleanshaven from now on? This is a serious question; I hadn’t planned to, but this discussion’s making me wonder. And after seeing some people with BIG bushy beards at DisCon III and how poorly those masks must’ve performed, it’s making me think about it, too.

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