About theme parks in the pandemic

posted by Jeff | Monday, July 20, 2020, 3:00 PM | comments: 0

Walt Disney World has been getting a lot of negative attention for opening lately, in part because our infection rate here in Orange County has been pretty bad. Our ICU saturation is at 70%, which is definitely not good. But the thing about the theme parks, and really all amusement parks, is that the infection rates don't necessarily mean that they're unsafe to open. Things are comparatively worse in South Florida, without theme parks. What we know now that wasn't clear in March is that there are mitigation tactics that can help prevent the spread of Covid-19. It doesn't make anything "normal," but the overall guidelines for behavior make it pretty clear what will work.

Anecdotally, it seems like the spread has more to do with individuals in small groups giving up on the mitigation tactics... pool parties, barbecues and other small scale social gatherings. The young people who all started dry humping each other in bars didn't help. The science around social distancing and mask wearing is relatively sound, as well as the reduced risk of people being outside. In that sense, it would imply that the theme parks are actually relatively low risk for infection. With such low attendance and limits to capacity, I think it's reasonable to expect that visiting the parks would be safer than going to a grocery store. Not completely without risk, but definitely low.

That said, even low risk isn't a great idea for us, because of our health histories. Most of what we enjoy is meeting up with friends, many of which are also not going, and the out-of-town friends are obviously not coming. We'll certainly start throwing money back at them again early next year, if things go as optimistically as some health experts hope, but I'm not in a hurry to pay for a dramatically altered experience.

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