Bars are open again. Please don’t be stupid about it.
In McLennan County, 24% of positive tests have occurred in people ages 20-29. That’s nine percentage points higher than any other age bracket. Adding one more potential super spreader for that demographic isn’t such a good idea.
Even County Judge Scott Felton doesn’t think it’s a good idea to go, but he opened them so bar owners and employees could have a fighting chance to make ends meet.
Bars, right up there with sporting events, are some of the most dangerous places during a pandemic. People packed into an enclosed room, drinks passing around everywhere; it’s a recipe for contraction.
The guidelines laid out in the reopen plan do aim to minimize that risk. Dance floors are supposed to be closed. Patrons should be seated in order to be served. The bar area isn’t supposed to be packed with people clambering for their drinks.
Will those rules be followed? It’s hard to say, but if we revisit the issue with football games, it’s not hard to see what the future holds.
The two weeks following the home matchup with Kansas were the worst two weeks in terms of positive tests in nearly a month. The student section partied it up as the Bears laid a beat down on the Jayhawks, and then students went home with a higher chance of contracting the virus than they had before attending. Baylor even announced it would be testing students that attended at a higher rate.
Is it a coincidence that Baylor announced a testing surge of 5,000 students over the next two weeks on the same day that Felton announced bar openings? It’s possible, but that’s incredible foresight on Baylor’s part.
Off-campus students are far more likely to head out to bars on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights — nights when CLs are on high alert for suspicious activity. With no football game this weekend either, students will be looking for an outlet.
Felton said that if rising case numbers can be linked to bars, he’ll have to “reconsider” his order. While that would hurt students in some capacity, that’s far worse for owners and employees who count on revenue that’s only available if doors are open.
So don’t screw this up. People are counting on patrons to be responsible and make smart choices. The Waco economy is counting on young people to make the right decisions when it comes to virus responsibility.
If you’re going to go, wear a mask. Stay away from other groups. If a bar isn’t enforcing the rules, leave. Just don’t be stupid.