Illnesses and Events (3/10)

Hey all,

It’s attached below, but with health department warnings and some larger events being canceled or rescheduled, we wanted to help get as much information out there as possible. Thanks to our very own Erik Aliff, we have put together a short module outline how communicable illnesses spread, and how you can help protect yourselves and those around you. You can also find the link to the video itself here!

We want to make sure we are keeping the conversation going. So! We want to know what other questions you have. Please feel free to post them here, on either of our Social Media posts, or directly to We’ll be working with Erik and other health care professionals as needed to research or get updates and more answers as they come up!

Some questions already on our list are:

  • How should I prepare for an event? 
  • What should the HJ  talk to the TO about to prepare?
  • Should I be disinfecting things in the tournament space?
  • What do I do about touching other peoples stuff?
  • Do I need hand-sanitizer, gloves, and disinfectant?


Edit:  I will include the script from this video here.  I can also be found in the elective course.


Hello, my name is Erik Aliff and today I will be discussing the impact of communicable diseases such as the coronavirus on large events like Magic Fests. A brief disclaimer at the beginning: while I am a healthcare professional (an ICU nurse), what I will be saying in this module should not be construed as medical advice. If you are feeling ill, you should always contact your local healthcare provider for proper assessment and interventions. In addition, the information that I am communicating to you about Covid-19 is accurate at the time of my recording this, but as information changes, updates to this module may occur.


Why should you as a magic judge care about the topic of communicable diseases? Perhaps you think the information you have read or heard about seems overblown and exaggerated. Perhaps you have seen people taking what you believe to be excessive precautions in recent weeks. My goal today is to discuss why large-scale events such as Magic Fests require specific precautions regarding communicable diseases in general. What we will be discussing today remains relevant regardless of if the concern is coronavirus, the flu, the common cold, or any other communicable disease. Why is that? Large-scale events increase the likelihood of person-to-person contact for many people all at once–sitting next to different people for each round of competition, walking in close contact with numerous others, people’s immune systems being overwhelmed by hectic travel schedules and long days of judging and lack of self care can all contribute to an increased likelihood of disease being quickly spread at events like these. However, with a better understanding of how diseases such as coronavirus spread, you can decrease the likelihood of you contracting the illness as well as limiting the spread of the illness to others.


 The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (or Covid-19) is part of a family of illnesses that often transmit from animal to animal before transmitting from animals to humans and then finally from human to human. Covid-19 originated in the city of Wuhan, China and has now spread to at least 90 countries. The symptoms most often include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. While these symptoms may not sound that severe, for more vulnerable populations such as children, the elderly, or the immunocompromised, these symptoms can very quickly progress into a more serious problem.


Viruses such as Covid-19 spread through close person-to-person contact (within 6 feet) and through respiratory droplets (which is a fancy way of saying the stuff that comes out of your mouth when you cough or sneeze). Stop and think about how many people you were within 6 feet of at your last event. Try to get a rough estimate in your mind. This is why we should be mindful of doing what we can to prevent the spread of illness–not just in situations like we face presently with Covid-19, but at all times!


Covid-19 also appears to spread most prominently when a person is displaying symptoms–that is a person is much less likely to spread the disease when they aren’t showing symptoms. People still can, but it appears less likely. In addition, transfer of the disease can occur when touching an object that has the virus (a table, a chair, or trash that you might be picking up) followed by touching areas of your body such as your mouth, nose, or eyes. These areas are often portals of entry because they are more permeable membranes compared to your skin.


So now that we’ve briefly discussed what Covid-19 is and how it spreads, let’s get to the most practical portion–what should you do? Most of what I’m going to say is going to sound common sense–because most disease prevention is common sense. First and foremost, avoid close contact with people who are sick. This can be challenging when at events, but there are still ways that you can reduce this. If someone is showing symptoms of being sick–limit physical contact with them until they are better. If you are not feeling well–please be mindful not to hug, shake hands, or otherwise increase the amount of physical contact you have with those around you. I know this can sound callous or unfeeling, but increasing the likelihood of those around you getting sick is not a good way of showing people that you care!


Speaking of touching, be mindful of touching your eyes,nose and mouth. This is especially important for those of us who wear glasses or contacts as we tend to touch our eyes without thinking about it. This recommendation connects to my next one which is one of the most important (and yet feels so cliche) recommendations. Wash your hands! The CDC recommends washing your hands for at least 20 seconds and washing them after each trip to the bathroom, before eating, after blowing your nose, coughing, seezing, or interacting with food/personal items from other people (again like picking up trash left on tables). Judges will often remind each other to stay hydrated at events as a way of encouraging people to take care of themselves throughout the long weekends of judging. Just as importantly (and just as often), you should be thoroughly washing your hands. Between your fingers, under your fingernails, and to your wrists.


A final recommendation regarding cleaning–thinking about the things that are part of your judge kit. Markers, scissors, water bottle–any item that you use and keep instead of using and discarding or that you might share with another person during the day. All of those items should be clean/disinfected at the end of each day. In my line of work I have to keep a stethoscope around my neck pretty much all day. I make sure to wipe it down with an alcohol swab at the end of each day–sometimes more than just that depending on where its been!


A recommendation I haven’t mentioned yet that you might be wondering about is a facemask of some kind. Since we are around so many people–should we use face masks? The answer is no–unless you are sick! Facemasks are largely not for the prevention of getting infected (at least in a setting like a Magic Fest) but rather are mostly used for the prevention of spreading infection. But if you are feeling sick…don’t work the event in the first place! Seriously. Don’t. Even if you are worried about today being your big break because you are working with the judge you’ve always looked up to or you are getting to head judge the biggest event you’ve ever judged before or any other situation. If you are sick, do not work an event. You are putting so many other people at risk of becoming sick. Don’t do that. Contact your local doctor to communicate your symptoms to them and receive instructions on what you should do next.


One last thing. With all the recommendations that I’ve given you on what you should do, there are a few things that I need you to not do either. First, don’t stigmatize. While this particular disease may have originated in China, people who look vaguely Asian are not more likely or susceptible to carrying the disease. Second, and related to number one–don’t panic. By following these common sense prevention recommendations, you lower your chances of contracting not only Covid-19, but communicable diseases in general. While reminders like wash your hands, get plenty of sleep, and eat healthy may sound cliche, they remain some of your best defenses. So, with this information, enjoy your next large event and do your part to keep our events fun, fair, and infection-free!