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March 27, 2021

Are you making summer plans? There’s a general optimism in the air right now that is hard to resist. The Olympic torch, which left Greece a year ago, started its relay in Fukushima two days ago. The next four months will see it carried through all 47 prefectures of Japan until July 23, when it begins the Olympic opening ceremony on July 23, 2021. Thirty-seven years ago I stood with three excited little boys on del Obispo Street in San Juan Capistrano cheering and waving flags as a runner carried the torch past our own neighborhood for the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. But this is 2021 and viewers are asked to wear face masks and clap instead of cheer.

On the local scene, I heard yesterday on KNX radio (on my iPad) that the Orange County Fair will be held this year, with all due precautions involving reduced numbers, masks, and so on. There will be farm animals, rides, entertainment, and hopefully funnel cake and fried Twinkies. It runs from July 16 to August 15, and ticket sales start on May 1 on www.htttps://ocfair.com. Yes, there is entertainment. It looks like they have rescheduled concerts from last year, including tributes to Elton John, Queen, George Michael, and Depeche Mode. If you had tickets for last year, they are still good. If not, check early.

Not in Orange County? No problem. Just look up your local fair. I checked the 2021 schedules for the Eastern Idaho State Fair, the Minnesota State Fair, and the Maine State Fair and they are all on.

Maybe you’re thinking of travel! The airlines are ready to help. Delta Airlines is keeping their middle seat open until April 30. They have an interactive map at https://www.delta.com/us/en/plan-your-next-trip/where-we-fly showing the travel requirements and restrictions for international and domestic destinations. Just enter the countries you’re interested in. I entered the United States to Australia. Most passengers from the U.S. are not allowed to enter Australia, it says, but there is a list of categories of people who can enter. You can also check on which routes they’re flying now. Some European flights are available now (but see the restrictions). Others, like Barcelona, Athens, and Zurich, are expected to open in May and you can book them now. Of course, this can change.

United Airlines has an interactive map for easy look-up of fares and routes for domestic flights on https://www.united.com/en/us. Both United and American Airlines have interactive international maps as well, showing requirements and restrictions.

Back in Southern California, you may have noticed that Disneyland is opening up on April 30, 2021. But don’t try to just go and buy a ticket at the gate. You will need to be a California resident and buy your tickets in advance on a reservation system. For up to date information check the Disneyland web site at https://disneyland.disney.go.com/

Are all these events going to take place? Probably. Should they take place? That’s a judgement call. The good news is that we’re adapting safety procedures to different types of events, whether indoors or outdoors, walking around or sitting next to each other for a prolonged period, singing and cheering or listening quietly. Schools, performances, sports, fairs, and fireworks are all different in ways we never thought of before. Researchers are learning how the nuances of group dynamics contribute to viral spread.

The concerning news is the spread of more contagious variants such as B.1.1.7, which is on its way to becoming the dominant strain in the U.S. For our economy, for our jobs, for our morale, for our mental health–yes we need to get together and have fun. We need things to look forward to. The main thing is to keep informed and adapt our choices to the changing situation, especially in the next 2-3 months.

Today’s Notable Headlines

“Tokyo Olympic torch relay starts quietly in Fukushima amid COVID-19 fears,” Kyodo News, March 25, 2021. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2021/03/3ba87be7576c-tokyo-olympic-torch-relay-to-begin-amid-covid-19-fears.html

“OC Fair returning this summer with capacity limits, other modifications; ticket sales start May 1,” KTLA 5, Mar. 25, 2021. https://ktla.com/news/local-news/oc-fair-to-resume-this-summer-with-attendance-limits-other-modifications-ticket-sales-start-may-1/

“Trying to go to Disneyland’s reopening? It’s going to be harder to buy park tickets than you think.” SFGate, March 25, 2021. https://www.sfgate.com/disneyland/article/Trying-to-go-to-Disneyland-s-reopening-It-s-16050811.php

“A more contagious coronavirus variant is spreading across the US. Can vaccines stop it?” CNN, March 20, 2021. https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/20/health/variant-b117-vaccines-work/index.html

“The Fatal Shore: How a coronavirus variant tore through a tiny English island and onto the world stage,” Reuters Special Report, March 26, 2021. https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/health-coronavirus-uk-variant/

Additional Sources:

ALL INFORMATION ON THE OLYMPIC GAMES TOKYO 2020, TO BE HELD IN 2021, https://www.olympic.org/all-information-about-the-olympic-games-tokyo-2020-and-covid-19

OC Fair and Event Center, https://ocfair.com/

For OC concert schedule, see: https://ocfair.com/oc-fair/entertainment/the-hangar/

Delta Airlines map, https://www.delta.com/us/en/plan-your-next-trip/where-we-fly

Why am I doing this?

The coronavirus pandemic will be indelibly written on our memories just as the Great Depression or the Battle of Britain left their mark on past generations. I intend to journal the pandemic experience from three perspectives: as a retired medical technologist, as a historian (Ph.D., 2014), and an ordinary person living through an extraordinary world crisis.

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