As those of you who follow us on social media or who read some of the interviews that were posted probably already know, Ed Morrissey and I attended the annual CPAC festivities in Maryland last week. I also brought my wife this year (her first CPAC) and we had a great time catching up with many friends I rarely get to see in person and attending many presentations by a variety of speakers.
Yesterday, however, we found out from the organizers of the event that there was a less-welcome guest at CPAC… the coronavirus. The news first popped up on Twitter.
Important Health Notification for CPAC 2020 participants and attendees. pic.twitter.com/NtahNO8st3
— ACU (@ACUConservative) March 7, 2020
Before long, CNN had picked up the story. There was apparently one attendee from New Jersey who returned home and then began displaying symptoms, later testing positive for the WuFlu.
The American Conservative Union announced on Saturday that one of the attendees at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, has tested positive for coronavirus.
President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and other administration officials attended the conference, though the ACU says the attendee did not come into contact with the president or vice president, nor did they attend events in the main hall.
The ACU said the Trump administration “is aware of the situation.”
“The exposure occurred previous to the conference. A New Jersey hospital tested the person, and CDC confirmed the positive result,” ACU said in a statement. “The individual is under the care of medical professionals in the state of New Jersey, and has been quarantined.”
This was jarring news for all of us, I can assure you. It also raised momentary concerns because Ed had begun feeling under the weather as soon as he returned home, but he was quickly diagnosed with something less serious. Still, particularly after reading Allahpundit’s update on the projections for who will be affected and how badly, those of us in the 60+ age group clearly have more to be concerned about now.
Annoyingly, after assuring everyone that neither the President nor the Vice President came in contact with the patient, the ACU apparently decided not to share the identity of the infected individual with the rest of us so we could self-isolate if we’d shaken hands with them. Of course, how much good that would do six days after leaving the conference is questionable to say the least. The news produced a fair amount of gallows humor on Twitter last night, at least in the circles where I hang out.
So how much do we really have to worry about? That’s hard to say. If the individual in question began displaying symptoms toward the end of this week and tested positive yesterday, that means they were probably exposed roughly a week before CPAC began. If that’s the case, they could definitely have been asymptomatic but still contagious throughout the conference. That’s sort of the worst-case scenario with the coronavirus. You can be walking around infecting people for quite a while before you’re even aware that there’s a problem.
But even then, we still don’t know enough to say how long the window is and when we’ll have a good idea as to whether we were infected or not. Live Science has some of the most recent estimates from medical experts and there is still apparently a lot that doctors aren’t sure about yet. The incubation period is supposed to be “one to two weeks” but other reports indicate that it could be as much as 21 days. And even if you are infected, many people will develop symptoms so mild that they’ll just assume it’s a cold and not even go for testing.
The virus reportedly stays in your system for up to a couple of weeks after your symptoms abate (in mild cases) but doctors believe that you are far less contagious during that period. Of course, that’s what they believe. As I said, this is still so new that there is no 100% consensus among the medical community.
So now we wait. If I was exposed, it’s been somewhere between seven and eleven days since it happened. I haven’t noticed any symptoms yet, but it will be at least a week, if not two before I can start breathing any easier. The same goes for Ed and my spouse. Meanwhile, my wife happens to work in a place where she comes into contact with a large number of children every day. That means she’s constantly being exposed to every bug that’s making the rounds, and for all we know one of those families already ran across the coronavirus anyway. In short, there’s simply no way to say whether the coronavirus will be knocking on our door any time soon or if it’s already here.
Crossing our fingers and saying some prayers. We’ll keep you updated as the situation hopefully doesn’t develop.
Update (Ed): The Minnesota Department of Health has a hotline for COVID-19, but it was closed yesterday when I got the news from the ACU. I called them this morning and detailed the case to them, including the fact that I’d had Influenza-A when I got back and spent the week on Tamiflu. I’m no longer symptomatic, either, which they said indicates I’m almost certainly in the clear. I just need to watch for symptoms that might develop later but they have no concerns about me being out in public. I’m more or less a homebody anyway, but at least that’s one stress I don’t need to consider.
As Jazz says, if this changes, we’ll be writing about it. Let’s hope it doesn’t change.
Update (AP): Not great:
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said neither Trump nor Pence was in “close proximity to the attendee,” but ACU chairman Matt Schlapp told The Washington Post on Saturday that he himself interacted with the infected person at the event. The precise chronology could not be learned, but Schlapp did shake Trump’s hand on the stage on the last day of the conference.
“I think we have to be calm and see what occurs here and hope our friend gets better,” Schlapp said.