While a legitimate debate continues to rage (in some media outlets, anyway) over the lethality/ potency of the coronavirus pandemic, a New Year’s Eve event scheduled in the heart of downtown Greenville, South Carolina is drawing criticism.
Some say it is shaping up as a definitional “superspreader” event …
The second annual “Reedy River Grand Ball” – scheduled to commence at 8:30 p.m. EST on Thursday, December 31, 2020 – is expected to attract hundreds of people to its black-tie optional revelry, which will include a dozen bars as well as “champagne pouring aerialists.”
Wait … what’s a “champagne pouring aerialist?”
(Click to view)
“After a year like 2020, we are making this event extra special,” organizers noted on their Facebook page. “You’re guaranteed to start 2021 off with a bang!”
Or … with Covid-19.
Christen Clinkscales – a local restaurant marketer – has launched a social media crusade on her Instagram page aimed at shutting down this event. Or, at the very least, drawing attention to what she believes constitutes a legitimate public health threat given rising Covid-19 cases.
“It’s despicable, irresponsible and downright dangerous to host this event,” Clinkscales wrote. “It’s a slap in the face to our healthcare workers and all essential employees. The lack of empathy for those that do no get to the luxury to stay at home during this pandemic is appalling.”
Clinkscales is concerned that Greenville county – at the heart of the recent Covid-19 case spike – is facing a looming health care crisis.
“Greenville county has the most cases in our state right now and we haven’t even gotten to the Christmas spike yet,” she added.
According to Clinkscales, event organizers have not only rebuffed her criticisms but “decided to delete any comments questioning the safety of their event.”
In fact, they claim to have worked with the administration of governor Henry McMaster over “the past (two) months” to ensure the gathering can be held safely.
“Weekly, they continue to express to us that we will be able to operate until 1:00 a.m. on New Years Eve,” organizers wrote in a Facebook response to Clinkscales’ criticisms.
McMaster, incidentally, announced last week that he had tested positive for Covid-19.
The gathering – touted as “Greenville’s largest and most upscale New Years Eve event” – is scheduled to be held at Westfield Greenville, a prominent local wedding venue. It is being sponsored by Palmetto Entertainment with local restauranteur Rick Erwin providing catering.
Yes, that Rick Erwin.
“The most elegant New Years Eve gala is heading to downtown Greenville for the second annual Reedy River Grand Ball,” the event’s organizers noted. “Enjoy all-inclusive top shelf spirits, beer, wine and food catered by Rick Erwin’s. Dress to impress for this black-tie optional event, fit for a production and dance floor like you’ve never seen before!”
So far, 110 people have confirmed they are attending the event online. However, our sources tell us as many as 700 people are likely to attend.
For those of you new to this media outlet, we have taken a decidedly rational, data-driven, non-alarmist view to Covid-19 – consistently pointing out that the virus does not appear to pose a significant threat to younger, healthier Americans. Similarly, we have challenged the state to collect and publish cycle threshold data that would provide some sense of the severity/ contagiousness of Covid-19 infections – enabling government to better target contact tracing resources (while allowing asymptomatic, non-contagious carriers of the virus to get back to work).
Bottom line? There is far too much opaqueness surrounding this virus, and we believe much of that is unnecessary … perhaps deliberately so.
Having said that, there has clearly been an alarming rise in hospitalizations associated with Covid-19 over the past few weeks – especially in the Upstate region of South Carolina.
Which lends credence to the critics of this gathering …
Does this mean we believe government should have the right to shut it down? No. Absolutely not. But it does mean those hosting the event – and those planning on attending it – should probably take a moment to reconsider their decisions in light of the lingering uncertainty.
No one can (or should) attempt to compel them to do so … but this strikes us as precisely the sort of large, indoor gathering that ought to be avoided for the foreseeable future out of an abundance of caution.
From the beginning, our goal in covering Covid-19 has been to publish the best available data (and our best assessment of that data) in the hopes of providing context for risk – particularly the risk associated with additional shutdowns of the economy.
This event, to us, seems like an unnecessary risk … but again, we do not believe government has a right to step in and shut it down.
What do you think? Vote in our poll and post your thoughts in our always entertaining comments section below …
Do you think the "Reedy River Grand Ball" and events like it should be held this year?
UPDATE | The party is canceled …
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