Coronavirus and TSP

29 Mar 2020

All of us are worried about the impact of the Coronavirus on TSP in the 3rd week of May.

On 3/15/2020 the CDC recommended that for the next 8 weeks, organizers cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of over 50 people… to reduce introduction of the virus into new communities and to slow the spread of infection in communities already affected by the virus.  Since TSP starts May 17, it may be that no action is required on our part.

There is a lot of information that we don’t know yet, including how much COVID-19 develops in Texas and its timing.

The Operations team is watching this closely and have had hours of discussions about this.
Our current evaluation is to not to cancel TSP at this point, given lack of concrete information on conditions/challenges for May 17 and later.
We plan to re-evaluate on April 1st and on April 13.

Our inclination is to have TSP 2020 if at all possible.
If so, we will increase training of our medical folks including any supplies they may need.  We’ll work on getting hand-sanitizer stations for public areas.  We will communicate with attendees in advance on what to do including “don’t come at last minute if you have symptoms. And a method to obtain a last-minute registration refund.”

On the other hand, there may be factors that might cause us to cancel TSP.
These would include a significantly high number of cases in Texas,
a mandatory local or State ban on large gatherings directly affecting our event, and
Prude Ranch inability to provide meals (supply chain problems).

A comparison with COVID-19 virus and the flu  counts bears some thought to help bring some perspective.
Texas State Health Services reported (as of of March 13 2020),
49,827 (46,609 at 2/29) positive tests in Hospital labs for flu, cumulative this flu season.
2,650 people died in Texas from the flu/pneumonia thru Jan 29th;  2,010 of these were over the age of 65.
439 (853 at 2/29) positive tests for the week ending March 13,
These labs are not the only testing labs in Texas, but serves are an indicator of how prevalent the flu is in Texas

COVID-19 Texas positive or suspect cases

  • 2,552 (total thru March 29) 500 new cases on March 29
  • 715  (total thru March 24)     58 new cases on March 24
  • 64  (total thru March 17)

COVID-19 Texas deaths:

  • 34 (total thru March 29)
  • 11  (total thru March 24)
  • (total thru March 17)

COVID-19 Texas tests processed (public and private labs):   at least 25,260  (23,666 on March 27)
We are watching metrics at:  Texas Health and Human Services Coronavirus Disease 2019 Status   and   CDC COVID-19 in the US and the John Hopkins University Resource Center (live map)


What should I do, as a TSP attendee?

  • Watch your email or check the TSP website, in case TSP 2020 is cancelled
  • If you attend TSP, you do so at your own risk of exposure and catching the Coronavirus
  • We ask that you DO NOT attend TSP if you or a member of your family:
    • has tested positive for COVID-19 virus
    • have been exposed (within last 20 days) to a person who has tested positive
    • develop signs (get medical care!):
      • Fever
      • Cough
      • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
      • Get urgent medical care:
        • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
        • New confusion or inability to arouse
        • Bluish lips or face
      • above symptom(s) may appear 2-14 days after exposure
    • If you have been to TSP before and know you usually get a cough, shortness of breath, etc..
      • It will be difficult to know if you are exhibiting normal signs or have the Coronavirus.  Please stay away!
  • While at TSP:
    • Bring disinfectant, a thermometer and aspirin or other fever-reducing medication, to self monitor and medicate
      • Carry your personal eyepiece when looking through multiple telescopes
      • Ask the telescope operator to remove their eyepiece
    • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
    • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue (or bent elbow) and throw the tissue in the trash
    • Avoid sharing personal items like utensils, food, and drinks
    • Avoid shaking hands with others… this year a cheerful smile and a wave might do!
    • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food
      • or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
    • Periodically wipe down surfaces with disinfectant (ladder sides, other “public” surfaces)
    • Read our TSP Emergency information
  • Be Informed!
    • Differences: Coronavirus Disease 2019 vs. the Flu (John Hopkins Medicine)
      • Both cause fever, cough, body aches, fatigue; sometimes vomiting and diarrhea
      • Both can be spread from person to person through droplets in the air from an infected person coughing, sneezing or talking
      • Both may be treated by addressing symptoms, such as reducing fever. Severe cases may require hospitalization and support such as mechanical ventilation
      • Infections:
        • COVID-19:
          679,977 cases worldwide; 124,686 cases in the U.S. as of Mar. 29, 2020
          387,382 cases worldwide; 46,450 cases in the U.S. as of Mar. 24, 2020
          187,689 cases worldwide; 4,661 cases in the U.S. as of Mar. 17, 2020
          115,997 cases worldwide;    761 cases in the U.S. as of Mar. 10, 2020
        • Flu: Estimated 1 billion cases worldwide; 9.3 million to 45 million cases in the U.S. per year
      • Deaths:
        • COVID-19:
          31,734 deaths reported worldwide; 2,191 deaths in the U.S., as of Mar. 29, 2020
          16,767 deaths reported worldwide; 593 deaths in the U.S., as of Mar. 24, 2020
          7,494 deaths reported worldwide; 85 deaths in the U.S., as of Mar. 17, 2020.
          4,087 deaths reported worldwide; 27 deaths in the U.S., as of Mar. 10, 2020.

          • Mortality rate of COVID-19, is presently thought to be higher than that of most strains of the flu
        • Flu: 291,000 to 646,000 deaths worldwide; 12,000 to 61,000 deaths in the U.S. per year
    • The “flu season” will be substantially ended by May 17.  If you get symptoms, take them seriously!
    • Did you know that the TSP environment has impacted attendees in similar ways as the Coronavirus?
      • High elevation (5,000′) can cause shortness of breath, especially in older people or those with respiratory limitations (COPD, etc)
      • A very dusty environment can cause coughs, sneezing, and other allergy symptoms
      • These factors make it difficult to distinguish that a person has COVID-19 or if they have a common malady
      • Just because a person shows these symptoms does NOT mean they have Coronavirus.  However, we ask that everyone show consideration for others and leave TSP if you show these symptoms.

How do I request a refund?

Check back at this page for the latest updates, as TSP leadership continues to monitor this situation.


DISCLAIMER:  TSP is providing information from other sources including CDC, WHO, and other health organizations.  There are no guarantees that information on this webpage is effective nor complete.