No Concerts In Los Angeles And Everywhere Else, But This Is For The Best
I am sorry to report there are absolutely no concerts scheduled in Los Angeles this week, and Covid-19 is currently the ‘star’ of the unique horrific show in town. Since almost every music event has been canceled or postponed, from the largest concerts (The Strokes at the Forum or Trippie Redd at the Hollywood Palladium or Burgerama 2020 at the Echoplex) to the more modest shows at the Bootleg, Teragram Ballroom, Troubadour, the Satellite, and Moroccan Lounge, there’s obviously no point to make a concert calendar for this week. All concerts presented by Goldenvoice and Spaceland have either been canceled or postponed, except the ones at the Love Song Bar, a minuscule bar that can only fit a few people next to the Regent theater. Even the LA Times Festival of Books (happening mid-April) is postponed, and I frankly think they should have done the same thing for the LA Marathon, which just happened a week ago.
More cancellations will happen in April, it’s highly probable, and I am not sure when we are able to go back to a normal schedule, this is the big unknown right now. However, all these cancellations are happening for the best, we all know that, and people who still want to pretend it is an over-exaggeration of the situation do not know what they are talking about. I bet these people never did too much math or were not paying attention in biology classes. Do exponential functions ring a bell? There are experts who have been working on mathematical models of epidemic growth for decades, but you are gonna listen to the guy at a bar who tells you there are only 323 cases in California and no reason to freak out?
Exponential growth is a well-known mathematical pattern, numbers are very small at the beginning and then they grow very quickly, even quicker if the growth factor is important. R0, the number of people each one of us could infect if we developed Covid-19, is at the core of this dynamic. If R0 is less than 1, each existing infection causes less than one new infection, and the disease declines and eventually dies out. If R0 equals 1, each existing infection causes one new infection, the disease stays stable, but there is no outbreak or epidemic. If R0 is more than 1, each existing infection causes more than one new infection, the disease spreads and there is an outbreak or epidemic. The Washington Post had excellent simulations to understand this. Covid-19 has an R0 superior to 2, probably causing between 2 and 4 new cases per person infected, and the math tells us, that if we don’t take any measure, half of the world population or half of the U.S. population will soon be infected.
With a mortality rate between 0.5 and 2% for the coronavirus (although this is still unclear), this will lead to a lot of deaths, even with the most optimistic numbers: 600,000 people with 40% of the population contaminated and a mortality rate of 0.5%. Among these dead people, mostly the elderly of course, but also the weakest among us, although, everyone is potentially at risk to different degrees.
Obviously, each of us can choose to reduce our personal reproduction number, our R0, and this will help flatten the curve of the virus growth. If we can drive the effective R0 below 1, we can slow down and stop the spread. Hong Kong was able to maintain this factor around 1 in February while taking drastic measures (the lockdown of more than 50 million people) which are not even thinkable in the US.
However, we all have to be very reasonable and limit our social gatherings to the minimum for an extended amount of time, this is extremely important. Experts think that the United States may be two weeks behind Italy, and a terrible outbreak is highly probable in the following weeks, but how terrible will depend on how all of us behave in the upcoming days. Big or small, all gatherings should be avoided – and this means all concerts.
I am sure there is still a nightlife in Los Angeles, and it will continue, we are not in China, and most of the youth cannot stop social life in a blink, but it will come with a cost. Also, I am well aware that all these cancellations will put a terrible toll on the concert industry, from musicians to promoters, sound and light engineers, bartenders, venue owners,… it goes on and on. But we don’t have a choice if we want to stop the pandemic, this interruption will save many lives. But if this continues for a while, it may be possible to set up music sessions on social media? Why not having your favorite musician playing an acoustic show from home, behind a paywall? Just a thought.