Letter: ‘The concern remains that this was a potential super-spreader event’

Vancouver resident Atul Mathur shares his concern that recent gathering could be COVID super-spreader event

Atul Mathur
Atul Mathur

As you may know, Idaho’s legislature has gone under recess due to spread of Coronavirus during its session. Both house and senate voted to do so for 18 days, as at least half a dozen lawmakers were found to be positive for Coronavirus. So It was in that context that I read your report of the recent candidate forum hosted by the Clark County Republican Party with concern. 

You wrote: https://www.clarkcountytoday.com/news/candidates-gather-for-third-congressional-district-candidate-forum/

“The event, held before a large crowd at the Church of the Rock.” I take it that by a large crowd you mean that it was larger than say 100 people (another report placed it at a couple of hundred). Looking at the YouTube video, and other images on social media, it seems no one was wearing a mask either. This has both legal and public health implications for the organizers and attendees, as well as for the church. 

From a public health perspective, it’s unclear how many attendees and speakers were vaccinated against COVID. From what we know about community spread in our region, it’s anybody’s guess whether anyone at the event was asymptotically infectious with Coronavirus. Also, there is the issue of variants of concern for which COVID vaccination is not fully effective. On the other hand, it’s not clear from your reporting what precautions did the organizers take to prevent any infection from spreading. So the concern remains that this was a potential super-spreader event. 

From a legal point of view, this indoor event exceeded the 50-people limit for indoor gatherings permitted under Phase 3 status of Clark County. So that is a violation. It’s unclear what are the legal implications for the organizers and for the church.

So I request you to consider presenting all of these facts about the event in ClarkCountyToday, and also consider updating the above article suitably. Further, it’s fair to argue that, in the interest of public health, we all need to take actions to completely crush the spread of Coronavirus. In that spirit, I urge you to write an editorial encouraging all your readers and community leaders to take responsible actions to halt the spread. 

Personally, I would like to urge the organizers of the event (and/or the facility owner) to proactively sponsor public health actions such as organizing COVID testing of all the attendees, and follow it up by contact tracing as needed etc.. 

I believe, as a local journalist, you should make your readers aware that they could be affected by this event. If they attended the event, they can even be infected and should get themselves tested now. All reasonable readers, especially if someone from their isolation group was at the event, will surely thank you. 

Atul Mathur

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