To all readers and dancing friends: For more than 30 years I have promoted ballroom dancing as a healthful and enjoyable activity, using a monthly printed bulletin and then this web site. I never thought the day would come when I would discourage people from dancing. But, thanks to the arrival of covid-19 I must cease my advocacy and join the authorities who advise against close personal contact with others while the pandemic continues to be a serious threat.
I have been tracking the Louisiana case statistics since late March. I noted when the rate of new cases declined and leveled out in late April and early May in the range of 300-400/day. But instead of further declines that we all hoped for, the rate actually started increasing again. Using a 5-day moving average to see the trend, I saw it increase in early June to 400+, then grow to 600+ this past week (June 12-18).
This week PAR, the independent economic research organization, announced that they see a trend upwards in the pandemic cases. Today (June 19) the Governor's office announced that they also have observed the upward trend, and they discontinued publishing the data while they check the accuracy of the reports.
It is clear to me, and I think to anyone who tracks the reports and studies them, that the virus is still spreading in Louisiana and even speeding up again. It is also known to be especially dangerous for those of us over 65 or have other medical conditions.
In this situation, ballroom dancing with anyone other than your spouse is obviously risky and unwise. Wearing masks would reduce the risk somewhat, but I doubt that many dancers would do that, and they certainly can't maintain 6-foot distancing. I cannot in good conscience promote public social dance parties during this pandemic, so I will discontinue announcing them on this web site.
When will the pandemic subside, and when will it be safe enough to go out dancing again? I wish we knew, but this is a whole new experience for everyone, and not even the experts can predict its future course. Meanwhile, let's do all we can to avoid contracting or spreading the virus, so that we can return to dancing before we forget all our steps.
------ Cecil Phillips
UPDATE - JUNE 23
For the past 10 days the average number of new cases in Louisiana has remained above 600/day. During the previous 14 days the average was running around 400. Today the La. Dept. of Health and Governor Edwards recognized the upward trend and announced a delay of at least a month before going any further in reducing the restrictions (Phase 3) .
Clearly, it is not yet the time to be social dancing.
2020 USA Dance Gumbo DanceSport Championships has been rescheduled for May 28-30, 2021 at the Sheraton Downtown Hotel, New Orleans. SEE THIS WEB SITE FOR UPDATES: www.louisianadancesport.org. This will be the 21st "Gumbo" sponsored by Louisiana DanceSport and sanctioned by USA Dance. All ballroom dancers in Louisiana are urged to support the Gumbo by entering the competition, or volunteering to assist in hosting duties, and by contributing sponsorship funds (which are tax-deductible as charitable donations). Ann Durocher is president of Louisiana DanceSport, and Baton Rouge board members are Sterling Sightler and David Grashot.