I have the privilege of living a life that enables me to travel around the world and meet interesting and fascinating people from various walks of life. This has never been more evident than in my recent journeys to New York City, Boston and, eventually to London for London Blockchain Week.
While Covid-19 was an unobtrusive whisper and something that was only happening around China, I headed down to New York City for meetings and several small social events before heading up to Boston for more meetings and attending a little indie gaming event called PAX East. While there, my compatriots and I nerded out and played some incredible games and met some awesome people including the hilarious and truly magnificent orator, Xavier Woods of the WWE and UpUpDownDown. At PAX East, there were well over 100,000 people present during the entire duration of the event. Needless to say, since this wasn’t reported and not looked upon like the Diamond Princess cruise, the introverted nature of the attendees at this convention didn’t lead to a pandemic there. However, in hindsight, it could have but we and all in attendance were lucky and had an incredible time.
Which leads me to London. London’s Blockchain Week was exceptional. I was unable to attend as many events as I wanted due to previous engagements but the crown jewel of FinTech Worldwide was nothing short of exceptional just based on the content. Of course there was a lag in attendance and that was utterly disappointing because of the quality of the content. We had world makers there and speakers (including myself) from around the globe discussing what would be the future of blockchain technology and how it is being implemented in real use cases now. And many who couldn’t make it because of corporate travel restrictions. Cointelegraph even picked up on the importance of the event and noted the sparse attendance because of pesky Covid-19. This was illustrated by the fact that nearly 400 people were viewing live from the video streaming platform during the event.
No one had visible symptoms and everyone was relatively positive and upbeat about the pending pandemic. JD Salbego was consistently joking about it. This can be a common reaction to the pandemic situation as it unfolds, as people often make jokes as a coping mechanism when faced with anything uncomfortable and uncertain.
After departing London, I arrived to the state where I grew up, South Carolina, to prepare for the South Carolina Blockchain Week Charleston. At this point, I felt the need to be extra cautious due to the mounting threat of the virus. I woke up with a scratchy throat and given my recent travels as well as the lack of examination by my government upon my return, I felt it was best to go to the hospital and check. I couldn’t expose my family, friends and colleagues to this especially if I was one of the youngest in the group. Now, by this point, Dennis and his team which I am proud to say I was a part of made the right call and postponed the South Blockchain Week conference. I also had to postpone my interview on Thursday morning with the University of South Carolina to give a TedTalk on blockchain and the law. After putting a hold on my professional plans, I made my way to the hospital, where I proved to be QUITE popular.
My hospital procedure was quite interesting. I first called 911 to ask which hospital I should be sent to. They told me which one and then connected me with the front desk of the hospital. (The hospital staff later thanked me for this move.) By the time I arrived, I was warmly greeted by the head nurse, Patti. She was going to be my guide through this ordeal. One which lasted nearly 8 hours in the hospital and then self-quarantining while awaiting results. First she took my vitals and asked my symptoms. At this point and throughout the ordeal I only had a scratchy throat but since that was the first symptom a Madrid doctor noted, plus the destinations of my recent travels combined with my possible upcoming informal meetings, I wasn’t being the jerk who possibly infected everyone I came in contact with. You can read more about Covid-19 symptoms from a firsthand victim here.
Either way, I wanted to be a good responsible adult and check. So, back at the hospital they ran cold, flu, and strep tests on me after Patti, as gently as she could, tickled my brain with these terrible long q-tip like devices, one for my throat and one spit sample. All that came back negative. On to the chest x-ray, (I’m not sure what they were looking for in there!) which also came back negative. Then Patti came in and told me that they were going to send everything to the lab for a full virus/bacteria panel. Several hours later, all negative. No new symptoms other than a slight chill but it did not develop into a fever. At this point Patti called South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) and asked if I should be given “the” Covid-19 test. SCDHEC confirmed with Center for Disease Control (CDC) and both agreed because of my travel to NYC, Boston, and London including the number of large events I attended, I could be a carrier. Another brain tickle and throat swab and my samples were sent off to find out if I was going to be on “the” list for Covid-19.
In the meantime, the hospital graciously let me self-quarantine which was awesome but also kind of scary from an administrative point of view. What if I was a mad man and ran around licking things and coughing on people? What if I was like the JetBlue guy who got on a flight and then found out I was positive? Anyway, lucky for all I’m not a mad man nor am I positive with Covid-19 for 30 hours after having “the” test, it came back negative. Sure, I wasted roughly 38 hours in the hospital and self-quarantining. Yes, I was being overly cautious but the SCDHEC and CDC both agreed it was worth the wait and the test to see if I was a carrier. Had I continued with my in-person USC interview I would have infected a couple of nice people at the University before it shut down and, had the SC Blockchain Conference continued, I could have infected at least 100 other people from around the country until I began showing more symptoms. At that point it would have been too late for them and me. We would have all been positive. This wouldn’t have helped flatten the curve and given that most people take planes to get to places, especially when arriving to Charleston from out of state, it is likely that those I infected would have passed their “Southern hospitality” onto the dozens of people around them. This would have been a terrible party gift.
Luckily, none of the Covid-19 nightmare happened to me in part because of the foresight that my friend Dr. Jane and her amazing team utilized to provide santization devices and keep the blockchain event as clean and safe as possible. This included making up some dope handshake alternatives during the London Blockchain Week conference. It was evident that some had the ability to recognize the greater good in postponing the SC Blockchain event, namely Dennis, Gordon and Mark and yours truly knew that as much as I love talking to interesting and fascinating people from around the world, it would be a total dick move to get those people sick with a virus that has a higher morality rate than the legendary Spanish Flu (Compare >2.5% to Covid-19 ~3.6% morality rate.)
In the meantime, please stay safe, stay at home, and be kind to one another. No one needs 4,000 rolls of toilet paper. Invest in a bidet. Garden hoses may work, too. Not healthcare advice.