The CDC EIS Meeting Was Not a ‘Superspreader Event’, It Was the New Normal

And that is, as the kids like say, problematic. So this happened (boldface mine):

The staff dedicated to investigating disease outbreaks for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention received a reminder this week of the pandemic’s persistence: confirmed covid cases at their own conference.

“We’re letting you know that several people who attended the [Epidemic Intelligence Service] Conference have tested positive for COVID-19,” a CDC branch chief wrote in an email to staff on Friday and obtained by The Washington Post, adding that at least one person at the division’s recruiting event on Wednesday had tested positive.

The internetz being what they are, people started referring to the event as a superspreader event. But when a few people out of 2,000 get COVID, that’s not a SOOPERSPREADER EVENT11!!11, that’s the New Normal–and that’s the problem.

If you are attending a large gathering–and large is around 100 people, it’s reasonable to assume there will be one or more infected people. Based on last week’s back-to-school testathon in D.C., it’s likely that 0.5% to 0.75% people in D.C would test positive for COVID (maybe a little higher, maybe a little lower). There’s no reason to think that’s radically different from other parts of the U.S., so we should expect that, at a meeting of 2,000 people, several people would show up ‘pre-infected’ and develop COVID.

What should worry people is if dozens acquired COVID (especially towards the end of the meeting or afterwards like the ISME18 meeting in Switzerland)–that would suggest some sort of superspreader event(s) associated with the meeting. But a few infections in a large group is the new normal. What I find more disturbing is this:

In posts on social media, conference attendees were unmasked as they gathered in person. Some CDC staffers and alumni opted to attend virtually, worried about covid risks, according to people with knowledge of the event.

Most attendees were unmasked even though one should assume it’s a near certainty there would be COVID positive people attending. Not only would masking protect the attendees–and why risk infection and possibly some form of serious disease, including long COVID–but if someone were infected, it would protect others, including the conference staff, from any infected themselves.

Need to lead by example here.

This entry was posted in CDC, COVID-19. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The CDC EIS Meeting Was Not a ‘Superspreader Event’, It Was the New Normal

  1. John says:

    Is it possible to follow up in a few weeks about attendees who develop covid?

  2. Pingback: In Case You Missed It… | Mike the Mad Biologist

  3. MicroTolo says:

    Update early yesterday (5/5/23) from a friend who was at the conference said the current count was 37 positives. Hopefully that’s as high as it gets :-\

  4. Pingback: CDC Meetings and the New Normal | Mike the Mad Biologist

Comments are closed.