Let’s Talk About Reentry, Part 3: An MD Discusses Vaccines, and We Discuss Our Sector’s Needs

March 1, 2021

In this third installment of the “Let’s Talk About Reentry” Web Chat series, we featured presentations and discussions about how the pandemic has altered our communities’ needs and how we can best prepare for returning to in-person dancing, singing, and music-making.

We used the “transcript” function for the first time, which allowed participants to access subtitles during the Web Chat as needed. This feature also made it possible to provide the following written transcript of the entire Web Chat.

Full Transcript

Linda Henry 49:05
Greetings from CDSS, and welcome to our third Web Chat series discussing the preparations for the reentry. We’re very grateful that 278 organizers of music, dance, and song communities from 37 states and two provinces have registered for this Web Chat. These programs are especially designed to support organizers of music, dance, and song communities because we know that you are the ones keeping these traditions alive. So we hope that this evening to experience will help you feel connected and supported by this broad network. And that you gather information and resources to help your group navigate however the pandemic unfolds.

I’m Linda Henry, Community Resources Manager for CDSS. And we have several other staff [members] in the wings: Sarah Pilzer, our Operations Manager; Nicki Perez, our Membership and and Development Coordinator; and Crispin Youngberg, our Office and Registrations Manager. We also have Katy German joining us this evening and she’ll be hosting the Web Chat tonight. So we’ll start off with some tech tips from Sarah.

Sarah Pilzer 50:36
Thanks, Linda. So I’m sure many of you are Zoom veterans by now but just as a reminder, you can control various settings, and the tabs that are open in your Zoom window, using the controls that are found either at the bottom of the screen if you’re on desktop, or the top right corner if you’re on a mobile device. A new feature that we’re trying out tonight is live captioning – you might be seeing some subtitles underneath our video. If you don’t wish to see those subtitles, just click on the live captions, which is in those controls, and you can turn them off. Depending on the size of your screen, you may need to click More before you see the live captions control.

From live captions, you can also open up a full transcript, in a separate window, which is similar to opening up the chat window or participants tab. And speaking of chat, we will be disabling the global chat during the presentation, but you can still message the hosts if you need to, and we’ll be turning that chat back on at the end for Q&A.

From here you can toggle between gallery view or speaker view, depending on your preference, by clicking the View Options, which is either in the upper right hand corner on desktop, or upper left corner on mobile (and Nicki, next slide please), you’ll notice that when we’re in screen sharing right like we are right now with our slides, first of all, it puts you automatically in full screen mode. If you’d rather not be in full screen mode, you can just click on that View Options again and exit full screen. And secondly, you’ll notice there’s a little bar between the slides, and the video of the person speaking, and you can click on that bar and move it to adjust the proportion of each part of the screen. So if you want to make your slides bigger, you can drag it to the right, and if you want to make the video bigger you can drag it to the left. I know this works on desktop; I’m not sure about on mobile, but that’s about it for tonight’s tech tips, so I’m going to turn it over.

Linda Henry 52:39
A quick mention about pronouns, oh yeah I have one other reminder that I’ll chime in.

Sarah Pilzer 52:46
Great, thank you for that. I had a note and I forgot to look at it. One last thing. If you have not already done so, please take a moment to either open up the participants tab and you can find your name, it should be near the top of that list, or locate your own video if you’re in gallery view, and if you right click on either your name or your video, you can choose to rename yourself, and please include your personal pronouns. That will be a big help. Thanks.

Linda Henry
And one other tip is that during the presentations, make sure to jot down any questions that you have, because we will have the breakout rooms following the presentations and then the Q&A at the end. So to help you remember your questions, just take some notes along the way.

Sarah Pilzer 53:33
Yeah. And as always with good Zoom etiquette, please keep your mics muted if you are not speaking; it’ll help us all hear better. So, All right, I think now that’s it for tech tips, and I’m gonna turn it over to you, Katy.

Katy German 53:48
Thanks, Sarah. All right, let’s see that next slide. There we go. Great, thanks Nicki. Well welcome everybody. This is our plan for tonight. We are already late, late, late. This is what happens when there’s so many people.

We are going to do a quick recap of what we’ve talked about so far in this series, but then we’ll spend a good chunk of time hearing about the status of the vaccines, as well as the exciting news for both the US and Canada last week, with new vaccines being approved, what that might mean for our community.

We’re going to take a moment to look at the whole sector perspective, and I’m going to share with you a synthesis of a lot of conversations I’ve had with people over the last few months. And we’ll have some Breakout Room time. For those of you don’t like to do that, that’s a great time to go pet your cat or get some popcorn, but come on back at 8:05, we’ll do Q&A with myself and Dr. German. So next slide please.

All right, you know who I am. I wanted to give a few disclaimers. One is that we will be talking a lot about vaccines, and health and safety. But this is not meant to be taken as medical advice. That applies directly to you – every situation is more nuanced and different. So please, please hear me when I say this is a friendly, good-faith discussion among people who share a passion. We’ll get some useful information. But these are not meant to be hard and fast guidelines.

Another thing I need to be very transparent about is Dr. German, Dr. Thomas German, who will be joining us tonight. I am related to him. We are in fact married, and he is right there. So, he will be joining from the same laptop. He has been practicing medicine here in Asheville, North Carolina for eight years since residency.

And the other thing I wanted to note about him is that we had some feedback after, in the summer, when we were joined by a doctor from the Chicago area and contact tracer in the DC area we talked a lot about urban settings. But we had some folks who wanted to hear a little bit more from a rural perspective, if that makes any difference. So Dr. German here is coming from Asheville, North Carolina, which is not quite as urban as most of the other urban centers that we talked about.

All right. Next slide please. Nicki.

So just a quick recap of what we’ve talked about so far. It’s hard to believe we’re a full year into this pandemic. But here we are. Back in April, we started talking about what we can do for our community, looking at what was on the horizon, and the big theme of that Web Chat was how our organizers’ job description is changing. You’re not just getting – planning in-person events. We all, all of us are suddenly put into this position where we are holding communities together, trying to figure out how to maintain real personal connection in digital format, and learning as much as we can, as quickly as we can.

In early July, we started talking about – we started this series, which is – the goal is to keep checking in throughout the pandemic and talk about what’s changing, what we’re learning. We really focused on keeping people safe and preparing for the long haul. And then in October we met again, and we really, we talked about thinking about reentry in phases, and focused on the work that we could be doing now. So that brings us to 2021. Next slide please. Nicki.

So I wanted to highlight this great video that I think many of you have already seen, Dr. Dorry Segev. And I have not – I did get permission; I did exchange text with Dorry, but I don’t know if I’m saying his last name correctly. But he created a video at the end of December and posted it on Facebook in January. So I – actually Nicki, while I’m speaking, can you copy that link into the chat so people can have it in the chat? That’d be great.

Link to Dr. Dorry Segev’s video

But this is a wonderful video. It talks about what the new viruses meant for our community, and answered – oh he’s getting a lot of questions as a dancer and musician in his area. A lot of his community is asking a lot of questions, so he created this video. And I really recommend you go see it. Next slide.

We don’t have time to watch the whole thing, otherwise I’d just show it. His take-home points at the beginning of January, where even though there are vaccines in the mix and they are starting to come out:

It is still important to socially distance, especially indoors.
It’s important to wear a mask, especially indoors.
Remember that anyone can get the virus. So risk varies.
Remember that anyone can die from the virus, the risk varies.
And remember that vaccines are not a guarantee.

And I bring that up here because even though cases are dropping and we have some new news on the vaccine front, these are still where we are. So I wanted to drive that home, go watch that video, but let’s keep moving now for this conversation. Next slide please.

So where are we in this pandemic? So overall cases are down, due mostly to the end of holiday gatherings; safety mandates that are in place. And the vaccines to a lesser extent. We’re still, but it’s important to remember that we’re still above the initial spike. So we think all the way back last April when the cases started rising, and that felt dramatic and scary. We actually are still – our daily case rate is still above that level. We are much better and much more equipped, and much better at treating the disease, much more equipped. protocols are cleaner, more concise. So there we are making progress, but we’re not out of it yet.

As I said, there are two new vaccines, one in the US and one in Canada, that have just just been approved in the last week, and Dr. German is going to talk about that just a little bit.

There’s not a lot of change on rapid testing, it’s still in the mix, but it’s still – accuracy, reliability, and cost are all still very big barriers, and there’s nothing right now that looks like a quick fix for us. And Dr. German is going to talk a little bit about herd immunity when he discusses his thing. All right. Next slide.

So with that, let’s turn it over to the professional. I’m going to gently rotate my screen.

Thomas German 1:01:09
Hey, everyone. Hope everyone is having a good night. So Katy, my wife, asked me to give a update on the vaccines and what’s going on with those currently, and a little bit about the ones that we already have out. So we have about 15% of our population vaccinated right now, so that’s great. We certainly want to get up to a much higher levels so that we can get to that coveted herd immunity level. So, that that number is still variable, but 70% plus is certainly where we’re shooting for, with hoping for some sort of herd immunity that’s going to limit transmission.

So currently out, as many know, are the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. If you’re over 65, or have medical conditions, you may have already been able to get some of these vaccines. If not, then you’re likely still waiting for a little bit longer. These are two-part vaccines, roughly about a month apart. The second vaccine providing even more protection than the first.

These are mRNA vaccines; lots of people have concerns, because we haven’t had a widely distributed vaccine like this out before, but this is a method that we’ve used before with Zika and Ebola in other parts of the world.

So, this, these vaccines, drop a little piece of information into the cell not to the nucleus. So it is not changing our DNA. And then that, that little piece of information creates a spike protein which is found on the coronavirus that our body then responds to. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine that was just approved, and then the AstraZeneca that was approved in Canada, and hopefully will be approved here as well, are single dose vaccines (actually, AstraZeneca, I’ll have to double check on that).

But those are viral vector vaccines. So very similar mechanism in that we are getting a piece of information into the cell, this time using a virus – adenovirus – that cannot replicate. So we’re not infecting anybody. This is not a live virus or an attenuated virus, so this can be given to people with immune-compromised states. Similar mechanism, though, in that we are providing this piece of information to the cell that then places this spike protein out so that our immune system can respond to it. There is no replication of virus. There’s no change in our DNA.

So these are things that some folks have been very concerned about, but these are quite safe. Again, we have actually used these mechanisms for other vaccines around the world, again for Zika, and Ebola.

So the efficacy has been extremely high, even better than we had hoped, which is awesome. The numbers that we see are the efficacy for preventing disease. That means preventing somebody from having obvious COVID disease. And so the Moderna and Pfizer are both at 94, 95% efficacy, which is great.

What we still don’t know about these vaccines is how well do they prevent transmission. So we don’t know if people are actually still getting the virus, but just not developing the disease states that we see with COVID-19. So that also puts into question: Can people who are vaccinated still spread the coronavirus? And for that, we think that there’s great hope that we will not be spreading it as easily, but we don’t have the data yet to fully support saying that if you were vaccinated that you’re not likely to spread.

So the CDC did come out and say that for folks who have had the vaccine and who are potentially exposed, that they are not asked to quarantine currently. So, I think some of that is based on some hopes that it will prevent transmission.

There are some recent news articles out from the Lancet and also from Israel that also are positive in this regard, but maybe over-extrapolated in regards to how much hope that we can get from those, because the studies were sort of tangential data that we can’t fully pull that from.

So, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and the AstraZeneca vaccine; the Johnson & Johnson being the only one currently available in the United States. And hopefully, several million doses will be available in the near future.

Many will note that those that vaccine doesn’t have quite as high of an efficacy rate. And that is just for prevention of disease. In regards to the amount of deaths, actually, nobody with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine who has been vaccinated has died. So, so far it’s 100% in preventing that, and it’s near 100% for preventing hospitalization, and that’s – those are the numbers that we really want to look at when we’re looking at this vaccine that’s coming online currently.

I think if anybody in any community has any chance to get these vaccines, regardless of whether it’s Pfizer, Moderna, or the new Johnson & Johnson, I would advise you go ahead and get it. I think the sooner everybody who’s – what?

[Katy interrupted with this comment:]

Katy German 1:06:54
That’s friendly advice from a doctor who doesn’t know your full medical condition.

Thomas German 1:07:00
That’s right. So, but we, we don’t want to think of this as a second-class vaccine – the Johnson & Johnson. So – is there anything else on the vaccines that you want me to add in right now?

Katy German 1:07:15
Yeah, well we had some questions that people sent in ahead of time, which might be a great kind of guide for what comes next. These are dance, music, and song organizers. So, we’re talking about folks who organize events from either a large indoor gathering to like Morris teams where they can get together in a small contained group and dance together – so I mean, I think a lot of what’s on everybody’s mind is, what does this mean and when can we get together? When’s it safe?

But let’s answer some of the questions that came in, and then see where we go from there. And if you have questions as you’re listening, jot them down and remember there’ll be a Q&A later to bring them up. So, let’s see. Oops. Hang on folks I need to change the view back to – not this, basically. There we go. Okay, sorry, hon.

Okay, so, question number one: If you have already had COVID, do you need to be vaccinated?

Thomas German 1:08:25
Yes. Right now we are just proceeding with the current vaccination schedules – if it’s Pfizer or Moderna, you’re still getting two. There’s some information about possibly only needing one, if you’ve already had COVID, but right now, the plan is that you would still get vaccinated to make sure that your immunity is full. There are some people who have had COVID disease from the coronavirus and did not develop a significant immune response.

Katy German 1:08:50
Great. How does being vaccinated impact transmission risk?

Thomas German 1:08:56
So I touched on this just a minute ago. We’re still not completely sure, and there are more studies coming out on this. I hope later this summer, we’ll have some more information. The studies are actually pretty complicated, as you might expect, to get the data that we want out of this. Currently, the overall transmission is going down, so any study done right now, they’re going to have to make sure that they’re accounting for that as well. Also, almost near-daily testing may be necessary to try to figure out, and lots of contact tracing, to see if the vaccine is truly preventing transmission.

We just don’t know if, if we get the vaccine, if we do get a low level of viral replication, is that enough to pass it to the next person through our nasal passages, or is it not? And this virus is just too new for us to know that yet.

Katy German 1:09:49
All right. Do you think we could utilize rapid testing to get back to gathering in person sooner?

Thomas German 1:09:56
So, right now, the rapid testing is extremely variable. There is only actually one home test that is approved through the FDA. And you could look that up easily; it’s the Ellume test. But that was the only one that does not require a doctor visit or a telehealth visit to perform. Its testing characteristics seem pretty good, but it does have a relatively high cost.

We also just don’t know exactly how to use the rapid testing yet. It will very much depend on the person’s risk, the current risk in the area, and the prevalence of the disease in the area. And whether that test will actually perform well to help prevent transmission. It may actually take several tests in a row to prevent infections, because the test is not very good at picking up the very early stages of the disease, and it’s not very good at testing for folks to see if they are no longer infectious. So those are things that the rapid test is not helpful for.

Katy German 1:11:07
Great. Nicki’s suggesting that we spell out – can you spell out the name of that home rapid test?

Thomas German 1:11:13
E-l-l-u-m-e. And that was just approved in the last month, and is – the United States is ordering a lot of those tests but, it’s not nearly enough to be widespread. It certainly will be difficult for folks who don’t have access to technology or access to funds to be able to perform that test.

Katy German 1:11:38
Great. So at what point will we know it’s “safe” to gather again as we used to?

Thomas German 1:11:46
So, obviously the “safe” there is in quotation marks for a reason. Everybody’s risk is a little bit different. We have all gathered in the winter in previous years when flu is going around – COVID 19 disease being much more dangerous than the regular influenza, but just in comparison. We have many people in the United States, between 30 and 60,000 people a year depending on the season, die from influenza.

Some folks don’t find that necessary, don’t find that acceptable risk, and if they’re older and have immune compromised states, they might not go to a dance. If, if we’re younger and we don’t see that as a major risk, then we’re going to possibly go to that dance. So everybody’s risk is going to be different.

And there’s not going to be a totally safe time ever. This virus will be here for good. The only thing that we have right now to prevent hospitalization, comorbidities, and death from this virus is the vaccine currently.

So, but obviously not everybody is going to get vaccinated, and so there’s always going to be a chance of transmission from folks who have either been vaccinated (as I said, we’re not sure yet), to somebody who has not been, or else from other folks who have not been vaccinated. So, this is also going to depend on the local prevalence of the disease in your area. And we are not – you know, this will be determined by state and local organizations as far as what is safe. So, just in conversations with Katy, CDSS is not going to be coming out with a, “This is now the safe time together again.” Is that correct?

Katy German 1:13:37
Yeah. I’m real sorry, I know that would really make everybody’s life a lot easier, but that would be an irresponsible thing for CDSS to do because of, well, what we’ve talked about so far, but also some of the disparities in how the vaccines are rolling out. And we aren’t going to be on the same page. So that’s why it gets hard.

Dr. Segev – the video I referred to earlier – he has a neat section that talks about thinking about your risk threshold, personally and as a community, and I think that’s a really good way to start thinking about it. Because we’ve always danced at our own risk – we just don’t really think about it. We’ve – most of the risk to us are, you know, cold, and maybe some stomach bugs have gone around some dance events – I know some of you out there have experienced that.

There’s never going to be a time when we can figure out how to dance and touch and interact without transmitting something. So it’s really a matter of when does that safety threat, that risk threshold, get down to a level where we as organizers are comfortable holding events, and where we as individuals are comfortable going to events. And that we don’t know, it’s still an uncertain area. And it’s really frustrating that it’s uncertain and we can’t predict it yet, but that’s where we still are.

Okay, a few more questions. What do the other emerging strains of this virus mean for our future?

Thomas German 1:15:15
So, many of you have seen in the news that there have been variants that have come to the United States from other parts of the world or arisen here. The South African strain has been particularly concerning; it seems to spread much easier and have similar characteristics in regards to potential comorbidities, hospitalizations, and death.

So, we are concerned that we may see another spike later this year. We have started to see, I think as Katy said, after the major holiday season. Certainly amid some of the weather that we’ve had in our country over the past month, where people have been staying inside and not going out as much, hopefully some of this is folks being very careful and try not to spread or get COVID-19.

So, I think it’s still remains to see later this year as we get to warmer weather, we’re going to want to get out; we’re going to want to go do things. I think continuing to be extremely vigilant is very important as we head into the spring. just to see if we can kind of keep this at bay.

Both of the vaccine methods that have come out, the mRNA vaccines and the viral vector vaccines, can actually be modified relatively easily, and Moderna already has potentially a booster vaccine available. I suspect that in years in the future, we will be getting a new COVID-19 vaccine once a year, or possibly every two years, depending on how things go. So we’ll just have to see how that goes. Yeah.

Katy German 1:17:07
Great. And what does our – what does the past teach us about public willingness and readiness to come back together? That’s a fantastic question. I have not done that research yet, but I do know that the 20s were roaring. And there were a lot of factors that went into that, including the fact that they had just been through a world war and a pandemic. And I certainly feel like this pandemic is impacting us on a level that they were impacted by that pandemic.

I do think that people will come back together and be ready to, and we are just going to have to live through that awkward time when someone, or a few organizers, try it, and we all watch and see what happens. And then a few more and a few more. And that’s scary, because nobody wants to take that risk. Nobody wants to put anybody in danger.

And we are not there yet. I want to really strongly emphasize that even though we’re talking about getting back together, I can say with certainty that it would be a mistake to start to rush back now. We have been such – we, as a sector, our whole sector, which is participatory dance music and song – we’ve been really good about supporting each other, guiding our communities, staying strong and being creative, and not being a part of the problem. But the problem is still very much out there. It’s still very dynamic, and there’s still a lot that’s unknown.

So we need to keep not being part of the problem. I think most people who choose to join these discussions already feel that way, but I just want to really emphasize it.

Okay. Nicki. Next slide.

So I want to take a moment. At CDSS we adopted some core values, including inclusivity, and that’s really kind of impacting a lot of what we do and how we operate. That closed captioning function that we have as a default – we’re trying to do that more often, to help people with hearing impairments, and make sure that what we put out there digitally is as accessible as possible.

But that also means that we talk about it. And one thing that is really important to the board and the staff is to talk about equity in this – in vaccine distribution in the pandemic as well, and to really just make sure everybody understands, there are some real disparities right now. And so when we start thinking about “It’s time to go back; we want to start gathering, want to start having events,” it’ll be really important for all organizers – for everybody in the community – to stay up to date and understand what the distribution disparities are in your area, and think through how that might affect who’s going to be ready and willing and able to walk through the door, long term.

So, one way I’m going to – are you comfortable back there, or do you want me to move the camera away? I’ll move the camera away, but if we want to loop him in we can do that again too.

So one of the things that we – ways that the vaccination distribution is very uneven is related to geography. I think, as many of you know, our Canadian members and friends are having a much slower rollout. They’ve had manufacturing issues; they have had shipping delays due to the winter. So, they are in a very frustrating position. And as hard as it is to be patient in the US, where the vaccines are rolling, it’s much harder for our Canadian friends right now.

Geography also comes into play when we think of rural versus urban distribution. So there’s been a lot of pressure to get vaccines rolling, and when it’s distributed to a densely populated area, you can get it out to more people quickly. Distribution in [rural] settings – there’s just extra travel and time involved, and that becomes tricky, especially for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that have to be deeply refrigerated and have a more restrictive shelf life.

So that’s just something to be aware of. There are definitely large swaths of the country where that are rural and they have not had the same access to vaccines, as folks in urban areas.

There are also very clear economic, class, and race disparities in the vaccine distribution. And it’s really come – you know, everything is related to everything else. But the pandemic has illuminated so many of the disparities in health care outcomes for indigenous people, people of color, people in lower socioeconomic status, and, you know, a lot of times, the they are considered essential workers, are doing a lot of the support work; they don’t have the flexibility in jobs, to take off. I’m sorry, I got distracted by a pop up. Forgive me for my tongue tie.

In many cases, to sign up, you have to do it online too, so that requires comfort signing up online. The time to stay at it -, I mean I think many of you have already experienced, how you have to try and try and try and try before you finally get an appointment. You need to have flexibility in your scheduling. Time to take off work, transportation to get to the location, and then again back into a rural situation – sometimes those distances are really long drives, and so it’s the transportation and the time it takes to get there.

To overcome all of those barriers, you need a decent bit, or minimal level of trust in medical and public health entities. And that’s where history really comes into play for communities that have felt overlooked and not taken care of by the health system in either of our countries, but certainly in the US. That’s another really big barrier. So this is a great article about – from the Journal of American – wait, what does JAMA stand for?

Thomas German 1:24:06
Journal of American Medicine.

Katy German 1:24:10
A. And then there’s an A. I will – Nicki, if you could copy that link in too, that talks a little bit about disparities and inequity.

“Vaccine Distribution—Equity Left Behind?” from the Journal of the American Medical Association

So – oh, next slide too, please. Thank you. So we also have a kind of situation where we have efficacy and expediency a little bit at odds with each other. The general understanding is that for vaccine rollout, if you can target the hardest-hit population, the people most vulnerable, most susceptible, and make sure there’s enough doses allocated to them and prioritized for them…then we have a higher chance of creating safety for our most vulnerable people.

The problem is that it is a lot of complexity, and there’s a lot of, you know, if then you have to take into account people’s backgrounds, class, race, comorbidities, all sorts of things – every level of complexity means it’s harder to roll out the vaccine.

So in January we started seeing a lot of states transition to a much more simplified approach which is: everybody over 65, regardless of other risk factors. And then that helps get a lot more vaccines out, but it’s not necessarily the strategy that gets us to safety as a whole population quickest.

I probably should have let this guy talk about that, because he would probably say it better than me. But the point I want to make is that there is a lot of pressure right now for governments and politicians to get their numbers up. If you look at this little graph – I’m sorry, it’s very small, but it’s one of the trackers that talks about the number of individual doses per 100 people that are given out, and there are several trackers for this.

And there’s a lot of political pressure to get that number up. And so that means that – what that means is we’re going to need to still be patient, even though those numbers of doses are going up, more and more doses are out there, people are getting vaccinated, it’s not necessarily getting to the most vulnerable populations, the way it would need to be in order to get back to kind of letting our guard down.

And so that’s just a dynamic that’s at play: states are making different decisions. Massachusetts and I think Tennessee are two states that actually have a much more nuanced distribution, like they allocate doses for different needs and populations. And hopefully as time goes by, we’ll have more and more data on success, and how to make, how to do that well, and other states will jump on board. But it’s a factor to consider.

Okay. Next slide. So, last time we talked in October we talked about thinking through a four phase system. We may decide there are other phases, but I think that’s still basically makes sense. And I think that we are – oh shoot. Ah, that little “where we are” marker shifted when I added text. I am supposed to be making the point right now that we are still in the social distance space, so ignore where that red marker is.

We are still in the social distance phase. We are making progress, but we are not at a point where it is universally safe to do local events. I will say, though, that with the weather warming up, that there are ways to conduct smaller-scale gatherings outside that are distanced, or that are safe. And we’ve heard from some folks that were doing that for song groups, some dance groups, or some musician gatherings as well. So that’s something you can consider but, again, still mask if you can; still stay distanced if you can.

We did have someone ask about Morris teams that are smaller gatherings of people, they’re not necessarily changing partners. That’s a discussion you need to have with your team and really make sure that everybody’s on the same page, everybody’s comfortable, and everybody understands what the risk is.

Because here’s the thing: You worry about it and worry about it and worry about it. This is my experience with my pod, the people that we’re talking with. Once you get around them. it feels okay. And that feeling okay is so nice to feel that it gets really, really tempting to just continue letting your guard down.

And that’s human nature, for all of us. We miss being together. So one thing we as organizers need to think about is making sure that if we’re going to take a step towards gathering, we have the conversations with people first, to understand what what that small group of people is comfortable with, what they’re not comfortable with, what everybody needs to do to stay safe, and then stay vigilant on it. We don’t want to start becoming part of the problem this far into the pandemic, because we’ve done such a good job.

So I think we’re likely in this space until June? I don’t know, please don’t hold me hard and fast, but we have a long way to go before enough people and enough of the vulnerable people in our population are immunized.

So I’m just going to put that out there, and you can discuss it as you will. But I hope that you will take into consideration all the unknowns we still are dealing with.

And the other thing I want to say especially right now is your leadership is so important. And again, I know most of you didn’t sign on to be bold leaders. A lot of folks just wanted to plan events, because they’re really good at it, and you can do the logistics from the back end. But all of our communities need all of us to be strong, open, transparent, empathetic leaders right now. And everybody is tired, and a little bit goes a long way, is what I’m saying. You don’t have to be more than you are you already are, what your community needs from you. We just gotta make sure that conversations are happening.

So next slide. Alright, so, in phase one, we’re looking at emphasizing online events still; small, socially distanced outdoor gathering start to become okay. Really, this is the best time for you all with your communities to work on community culture safety values policies.

And another good discussion to go ahead and start having is what happens if someone wants to engage or join in a small event or early events, and they don’t want to adhere to guidelines. It’s a tricky place to be in. And so, the more you think it through now, how you want to communicate what you need to say, the better it’s going to go. And these are going to be long complex conversations, so go ahead and start organizing, scheduling talks with folks, series of conversations with your community.

I would even suggest, if you have the ability to survey your community, that would be a really great thing to be doing right now. Start asking people in a methodical way: What is your comfort level? What will be important to you to return to dancing? What are your risks? …Are you vaccinated? Those kind of questions are things we’re going to not just ask once, but ask them multiple times, so that you can start seeing what is changing and what is progressing in your group of folks.

The other thing we talked about last time was fundraising, and thinking about that in terms of fundraising for freelancers, but also for the dance organizations that you’re involved in. I want to switch that to fundraising and advocacy. And this is the part where I want to synthesize some of the conversations I’ve had with folks over the last two months now. Next slide please.

Oops! Oh, I’m missing a slide. Okay, I’m just going to talk.

You ready? Here we go. So, several callers and musicians have reached out to me, I think independently, over the last few months, to talk about some of the struggles and concerns that they’re having. And I before I proceed, I want to say that I did follow up with some of these folks and ask them if they would come and be guest speakers, but that’s not a comfortable position for them to be in, and I think you’ll see why in just a moment.

So, when the pandemic started, so many of us had never thought about trying to do our dance, music, and song activities online. We didn’t know what we were getting into. We didn’t know the labor involved, and everyone – organizers, participants, musicians, callers, singers, song leaders – everyone was willing and ready to do whatever we needed to do to take care of each other.

That hasn’t changed. But we’re learning more about the labor involved. And what we have now is a situation where we’re learning what the work involved in putting on successful events, the choreography that must be adapted, the singing, the teaching that must be adapted, the technology that must be downloaded or purchased and then learned. There’s also the coordination between musicians, and then between callers and musicians, as well.

So, what does that mean? At the beginning of the pandemic, when we were all putting it together, the easiest way to show support for the labor involved was to put a tip jar up. And I think a lot of organizers worked really hard to to acknowledge that it doesn’t feel the same as an in-person event. And it somehow feels less than, but it was still very important.

What I would like us to shift to is moving away from that: the mindset that we’re doing this only because we can’t get it in person. Because one thing that I’ve heard really consistently from organizers and Affiliates and people across the country, is that we see a role for online engagements, even after we return to in-person gatherings. Not to replace in-person gatherings, but there are things that we can do, there are ways we can connect online, and now we know how to do it better. That that’s going to continue going forward.

We have to really think about how to make that sustainable for the people who are involved in putting on those online events. And right now, by and large, we have a sustainability problem, in terms of fair compensation for the labor involved. I know that we are a folk grassroots community, and that that is often at odds – or that it feels better to be there than in a professional role.

But we’ve always straddled that balance between folk community volunteerism and professionalism. Because we really value, and we really rely on, freelance musicians and callers and sound techs, tech support folks, who create these really positive experiences for us.

So here are some simple things that I think we can do that I want to put out there for all of you here. We can shift from a tip jar mentality to a suggested donation and sliding scale mentality. Some folks are already doing that, and that’s great. Some folks, some groups offer a base pay and then tips on above that. Not everybody’s going to be in that same financial situation.

But the important thing is, as you’re planning online events, have these conversations with the musicians, and resist the urge to feel like we’ve set a precedent. Yeah, I think I’m gonna stick with that.

We haven’t set a precedent. We were in survival mode. Now we’re in growth, learning, and sustainability mode, and we need to adapt. Because the truth is, we are not going to be able to continue providing high-quality online events if we cannot, as a whole sector, raise that base kind of level of understanding and pay. For callers in particular, sometimes they’re putting in 8, 10, 12 hours to adapt their dances, try them out, coordinate with musicians and get that together. It’s very different than driving an hour up the road and calling from the cards you’re used to. That’s just one little example.

Another thing that would really help with this is if all organizers who are putting together online events take a moment to make sure you’re advocating to the participants for this. And I think – I have talked with some organizers who have said that it feels like we can’t ask for money because everybody is struggling, and nobody really likes the online events more than – well, I’m sorry, that was hyperbole. Very few people are reporting that they enjoy online events more than the in-person events. If they feel “less than,” even now that we’re doing them really well, they still feel like a “less than” product, but the time is not “less than” – the time required to put it together. And the energy and the effort and all of the things those folks have had to learn. That’s a huge investment.

So, organizers, it’s time to talk to your community and help guide your community towards a little bit more equitable compensation. I don’t have a suggested rate, because cost of living changes, or is different in different areas. Many people – there are still many organizers, I’m sorry, callers and musicians out there, and teachers and leaders, who are in a position to work with lower pay. And there will be people who will say they don’t need that. But I think the important thing is that we have the conversation now, and we help participants.

So, advocating for our freelancers – that means talking about money, talking about what their time is and what their comfort base pay is; thinking about how we frame that differently, from a tip jar mentality to suggested donation and sliding scale, and really being bold and happy and fearless about talking to your community. Because the truth is, we all want this, we all want to take care of each other.

Okay, now ready for the next slide. How are we doing on time? Great. All right. So we are going to take a break for breakout rooms. And let’s see, I think we probably will only have – Crispin, time check. I’m sorry I’m trying to get back to that. I can’t see – I need to see – Crispin, how many, how much time do you think we should put folks in breakout rooms for?

Crispin Youngberg 1:41:02
Oh, we thought 20 originally but I think we’re running a little bit late, right?

Katy German 1:41:07
I think so too.

Crispin Youngberg 1:41:10
Should we cut that down to 15 or is, is that going to be good?

Katy German 1:41:15
Let’s do 15. 15 sounds good. So, here’s what I suggest that you talk about but you certainly are free to do as you will. Move briefly through your name, location, and the tradition that you, what traditions you’re involved in. What I want to hear or see in the chat after we’re done: what feels the hardest right now? And what are you thinking about doing next for your community? And I think that that’s all we need to say, and you’ll get a prompt when it’s time to come back.

Crispin Youngberg 1:41:53
Okay, Here we go.

Katy German 1:56:26
All right. People are trickling back in; we’ll give it a few more minutes, or a few more seconds. Oh, it’s nice to see faces now as people come in.

Okay, let’s see. Oh, folks still coming in. So, this slide says “Q&A Both Ways,” but we are short on time, so I’m not going to ask questions of you. Instead, there will be some questions about – we’re going to put those prompt questions in the follow up survey questionnaire, and it’d be great if you all could share some of what you talked about, or what came up in those discussions.

Now we’re going to do an open Q&A time. So, you can enter your questions; questions that were already entered into chat, I think we already have captured. Sarah is going to help us keep track as best we can, but use the chat to enter questions that you want to ask. And as time allows, we’ll do our best to get to them, and answer them. And if it’s something that – we’ll just take it question by question and see what comes. Okay.

Sarah Pilzer 1:58:33
So, I’ve seen this question actually a couple times so let’s start with this one. How do we deal with individuals who have not been vaccinated, or do not want to get vaccinated, but will want to come to dances?

Katy German 1:58:50
I don’t think that we can give you a blanket set of instructions for that. I do think it’s really important to think through whoever’s monitoring that, or checking that at the front door, what position you’re putting them in – or the proverbial front door. I think that we will need to do safety recommendations and guidelines. And each group will need to decide for themselves what the policy and practice and actions will be if someone comes and openly disagrees and refuses to do it.

And that is a hard discussion, we have to have that discussion for our own events and our camps, and we start having them as well. And I’m sorry that I can’t give you a policy that you can just easily implement. But we’ll keep learning from each other and sharing what goes, how it’s going.

Sarah Pilzer 1:59:59
All right. Another pair of very similar questions. Do you expect CDSS or other organizations’ insurance to cover liability in case someone gets ill after coming to a dance?

Katy German 2:00:15
So, the insurance that we extend to our Affiliates covers the organizations. If someone gets ill after coming to a dance and wants to sue an organization, I think right now it’s murky enough that you’re protected, but we totally (totally. I’m sorry. How old am I?) – we anticipate hearing from our insurer that there will be a clause about COVID coming out in the next season. So it may not be the case that organizers will be protected in the event that someone wants to sue because of getting sick.

It is important to also remember that the insurance doesn’t cover individuals participating in the dance. So let’s say we go to a dance, and Thomas comes, and he’s not vaccinated, and he dances with me all night and makes me sick. If I decide I want to sue him, that policy is not in play at all. So, I think it’s really important to just differentiate between what, you know, make sure everybody understands what the policy does cover and what it doesn’t cover. But like I say, we think that we will be getting an updated policy with a clause that does not – limits protection for COVID transmission. And as soon as we hear anything, we will communicate out to our affiliates.

Sarah Pilzer 2:01:43
Great. This is a question about the phases that you talked about. Can you explain a little bit why you think geography versus an individual safety practice or risk profile matters, as compared to geography? So when you’re thinking about basing phases, we talked about local and regional, why the emphasis on geography?

Thomas German 2:02:07
So right now, at least in North Carolina and I don’t know specifically how other states are managing this, they are determining threat levels for each county based on a number of factors as far as prevalence, percent positive tests – and all of those go into play as far as what recommendations there are in regards to limitations of numbers of individuals meeting, or opening of restaurants or bars, all of those things. So since we were saying that we are going to be relying on public health organizations, or our county and state recommendations, currently, those are based on a county by county basis, at least in North Carolina, and I suspect around the country. We certainly saw regions of the country that had big spikes before others. And so it does change, sort of on a week to week and month to month basis in regards to the prevalence and percent positive tests that we’re seeing. So I think that’s why – that’s where that comes from.

Sarah Pilzer 2:03:19
Great. Follow up, kind of, to that: do you think CDSS would consider offering general guidelines, such as a transmissibility rate, like how low it should be before a locality returns in person in general, or does it really depend on where you are?

Katy German 2:03:38
I’m happy to let you speak to this too, but I think that’s just one of many factors to take into account, and so it’s more of a flowchart equation than a straightforward list of guidelines. And it’s – we will be exploring what we can offer that’s helpful guidance, and what is not helpful guidance. But the truth is, it feels like we will be behind whatever your local assessment will be, because we’re going to be trying to come up with a base level, something we can say for everybody, which is not going to be very specific and useful to local organizers, so it’ll be really – Don’t wait for CDSS to do it. It’s not because – we would if we could. If there was a way that we could provide this information in a way that would lead to safe gatherings for everybody, we would do it in a heartbeat. But we have to be really careful not to mislead someone, or mislead organizations, and provide recommendations that are not specific to the situation where you are.

Sarah Pilzer 2:05:04
Changing topics a little bit. This one’s about viral load, and since that’s related to whether someone gets infected or not, do we think that the chance of getting infected if you have been vaccinated is also related to viral load, or is it more likely related to other factors such as genetics? Expecting that dancers who are infected are going to generate a lot of virus, so is a high viral load going to be a high risk factor, even if you’ve been vaccinated?

Thomas German 2:05:35
Yeah. And so that’s kind of what I touched on earlier, in regards to the vaccines and the data that we don’t have yet, as far as how much – how often are people getting infected and exhibiting some viral load, even after being vaccinated. And we still just don’t know that. We really have good reason to believe that viral load, and then spread, are going to be lower, but if the threshold for spreading COVID-19 is extraordinarily low, then even somebody with extremely low viral load after getting vaccinated might still pass it on to somebody. And so it’s one of those things where we’re just sort of employing the precautionary principle that we’ve got to kind of prove that this is safe before we assume that it is. And so, yeah, right now, certainly somebody with a high viral load in a dance, where they’re breathing and changing partners every set, you know that’s not a good situation for sure.

Katy German 2:06:34
Singing plus proximity as well. Right.

Sarah Pilzer 2:06:37
There are several different questions along the lines of the legality of asking somebody whether they’ve been vaccinated, excluding them from a dance if they haven’t been, and whether CDSS could consult with an attorney to provide guidance on those questions.

Katy German 2:06:54
We will be – that is our plan, is to consult with an attorney, but so far the attorney we’ve spoken to has said you need to talk to an attorney in your area. Because the – obnoxiously enough, where you are and the state that you are operating in may have different – oh, it’s been a minute, I’m not going to say the right thing. I’m sorry. The really important salient take home point is that you need to consult with a lawyer in your – that knows your region and your area, and understands the precedent and what happens there. But we are actively reaching out to consult with lawyers, and if we are able to share something that would be helpful, we will.

Sarah Pilzer 2:07:49
So in terms of CDSS providing guidance as it relates to national legislation, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act, that is something we expect to be able to comment on?

Katy German 2:08:02
I’m not sure I completely – the Americans with Disabilities Act as it relates to COVID transmission or vaccination?

Sarah Pilzer 2:08:12
Vaccination, or restricting folks from participating, due to vaccination status.

Katy German 2:08:20
I’m going to look that up, we’ll talk about that next time.

Sarah Pilzer 2:08:24
Great. Let’s see, this is on a pretty different tack, but I think also salient: How do you keep a community together when some people are going to want to continue meeting virtually, even after you’ve returned to in-person events?

Katy German 2:08:50
That’s a great question, and honestly there’s probably a lot more people with ideas on that on this call, or on this Web Chat. I think the key, the key that I’m learning and I’ve learned a lot this year, is fearless, open, transparent communication. And I know that is – it seems overly simplistic, but I think it’s really important to just keep giving folks the opportunity to talk through what is important to them, what they need.

There are definitely benefits to the online engagements. We’ve heard that people are making some really deep and meaningful connections, that it feels really good to, to think about a larger community. It’s going to be really important to understand in your local groups, or in your event groups, how much that has come into play for the people who are your core participants, the people who are involved.

And also, to really make sure that you’re thinking through, you know, if we have new people coming in the door, new people seeking participatory art, music, dance, and song experiences – to help bridge that gap, so that it doesn’t become a members-only club, or kind of an elite thing where just the in crowd is online, but creating those pathways back and forth.

And, yeah, more, more talking at the dances – which is sometimes the last thing you want to hear, but it’s really important. And then I think we’re going to come out of this with an understanding as a whole community, how important it is to talk through some of the issues. What are you comfortable with? What are you not comfortable with? How do you feel safe? What do you need? How do I take care of you, so that we can do this together? I think that’s going to be a big piece of it. And there’s not going to be one answer for every community or every tradition out there.

Sarah Pilzer 2:11:06
Great. I think we have time for one more quick question. Hopefully quick. And this pertains to sort of like, I guess like once people are coming back, what is the opinion on temperature screening as a methodology for hopefully reducing transmission?

Thomas German 2:11:31
Yeah, so certainly folks are doing that around; we’re doing that with schools, there’s a little bit of evidence for that. We’re not sure how effective it would be, but it certainly could be a screening tool added. Obviously there’s a concern that some of the folks who are not keeping with other guidelines might refuse that as well, and so that would be difficult, but yeah, I think certainly adding in any kind of protection that we can.

I will go ahead and say that, I think once we even start to go back to dancing, that folks – I mean, we’re going to be wearing masks for a long time. I hope everybody knows that, that that’s going to be the case, because it still is protective. Even if we’re going to be relatively close to each other. Obviously, anything outdoors is going to be the best thing to do. But yeah.

Katy German 2:12:25
I’m sorry, this isn’t really funny but I just imagined these amazing, beautiful batik print [masks] that match people’s skirts. I’m sure that already exists out there somewhere.

Sarah Pilzer 2:12:37
Great. Maybe we can squeeze in one quick follow up to the questions about lawyers, is what type of lawyer would be best to ask these questions of?

Katy German 2:12:49
I just wrote, I wrote that down. So I’m taking notes. These are things I want to, I want us to research, and I’ll try to get guidance on it and get a guest, at least one guest to come and join us at some point. That would be a great topic for the next chat, so thank you for asking those questions.

Thomas German 2:13:09
I did just see a comment regarding the temperature checks. There, I will say there hasn’t been really great evidence for it, it is something that sort of makes us feel better about what we’re doing. So some folks have said that this is a bit of theater that we do, just like we sort of put on masks with folks that we’re right next to all day, that that’s not actually doing anything. If you’re working right next to somebody in a cubicle and you both have masks on, that’s too much connection, you’re gonna pass something. So, if we find that there’s more evidence for that, then certainly that can be recommended. But again it may screen out a few folks, but for the large majority, it may not. So – but that being said, even the rapid test, like we said earlier, may come up negative, if people are trying to test before dances or test before dance weeks. All of those things may – are still not 100%. So.

Sarah Pilzer 2:14:11
Great. Well, we’re gonna have to wrap up so we can stay on time, but we do have a record of all these questions and we will follow up on them as best we can. Thanks everyone. So before you leave, we do have a few wrap-up things. Back to you, Katy.

Katy German 2:14:31
Actually I’m tossing to Linda.

Sarah Pilzer
Ah, right.

Linda Henry 2:14:32
Okay, next, there we go. So we’re gonna send you home with some glimpses of links to resources available through CDSS. We have our Resource Portal. So if you go to the website, just search for that and many many resources, including COVID-related resources. We also have an online events calendar, crowdsourced lists of online events, and you can submit your own. And we have a way of – anyone who would like to support gigging artists, there is a link there that you can provide financial or other types of support.

Next slide. And here are more resources: the Resource Portal I just mentioned; Shared Weight is an online listserv that you can join. And we have grants that are available on a rolling basis, especially these days, we are offering funding for any group that wants to have an antiracism training. These Web Chats are on our website; you can see the video and PowerPoint and chat transcription. For this one, just in the next few days, if you check out that website, that website there. The articles in our newsletter for organizers are often included. And one-on-one support: if your group is having a particular issue, and especially during COVID, you can contact us and have someone be in touch with you.

We do want to encourage becoming a group Affiliate, and all that information is on the website, and joining as an individual member will help you make sure to receive announcements for future Web Chats.

Next slide. So, tomorrow you’ll receive a feedback survey, and we would love to hear your input. We really take to heart all the input that we received from our participants to help us improve the Web Chats in the future. And like I said, you can see the video and chat bar and PowerPoint for this Web Chat within a few days. And if you have any friends that weren’t able to join us tonight, make sure that they have access to the Web Chat website.

As I mentioned, we will be sending out announcements. And we do hope that you will all keep in touch – think of CDSS as your personal support, and let us know if there are things happening in your community that you need help with. And so there’s the email right there: resources@cdss.org.

Katy German 2:17:40
Thank you, Linda. I also want to share that I welcome emails directly to me, katy@cdss.org. I can’t always reply to everybody quickly, but hearing from the community, learning from others, is one of the most amazing parts of being in this organization, and I think it’s one of the most valuable things that we can share back. So if there are burning concerns that haven’t been touched on, within reason, let me know. Reach out, and we will keep having these discussions, and we’ll let you know when the next Web Chat’s scheduled. And I thank you all for your questions, your participation.

And just, you know, we’re all in the doldrums. We’re all rounding a year. We’re all wondering how much longer this is going to go on. But we’ve made it a year. We have learned so much. And we are working together in ways that are in some ways more healthy than ever before. That’s a little bit – in my lifetime, I should say. Don’t lose sight of that, and if you need to feel grumpy and defeated, let it be, don’t worry about that. But just remember, you are leaders, and your community is counting on you. And thank you, thank you for everything that you’re doing.

Sarah Pilzer 2:19:10