Paranormal Studies in the Time of Pandemic

It is not the business of Paranormal Study to educate you about the ongoing Coronavirus known as Covid-19. We are not a medical reference source nor should we ever be misconstrued as such.

With this in mind, please read the rest of this post diligently. The few facts that have been included in this article regarding the virus have been fully vetted and links have been provided. If you seek additional information, we highly recommend visiting the websites of the W.H.O. and the C.D.C. for more information.

We wanted to completely ignore this situation as we hoped it had nothing to do with the paranormal field. Unfortunately, that has not been the case.

A friend of Paranormal Study, noted paranormal author, TV personality and medical professional, Richard Estep, posted the following on our Paranormal Study Facebook page. After contacting Richard directly to get his thoughts, we felt that this article needed to be published for the good of the field.

Here is what he wrote:

(Apologies for the long post)

Friends and fellow para-peeps,

I don’t usually beg or plead, but this time I feel that I have no choice. My name is Richard. I serve as a chief paramedic. In my spare time, I love the same thing you do — ghosts, hauntings, and all things paranormal. I might occasionally pop up on your telly talking about haunted hospitals and suchlike.

I’m seeing a number of event organizers still waiting to decide whether to cancel their events due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Some have already done so, which I applaud. Others are on the fence. Others say they are going ahead regardless.

Please, please, please do not host events for at least the next few weeks. I know that this will hurt you financially, and for that I am sorry. People have got to make a living. I get that. But this is a crucial time for managing the pandemic. There’s no stopping it; that ship sailed a long time ago. Slowing it is the best we can do. But slowing it will save lives. ’Flattening the curve’ is a term we have all heard lately, and doing so is critical. People are dying and will continue to die in ever greater numbers as community spread ramps up.

“But I’m washing my hands/disinfecting my equipment/etc etc.” That’s great. Handwashing is key. But the single most important factor now is the one thing none of us wants to do: social distancing. Nobody wants to stay cooped up. But if we don’t act now, the cost in lives further down the line is likely to be horrendous.

I am not being alarmist. There is plenty of data to support these claims (something we rarely get to say in the paranormal field!). The strain on the healthcare system is going to be brutal. We’re already stretched and running out of protective equipment. Hospital beds are already filling to capacity, and Covid-19 isn’t entrenched yet.

“I’ll just take my chances.” I hear this a lot. The truth is, this isn’t about you. The chances are good that you’ll be fine. The people who *won’t* be fine are those who are old, immunosuppressed, and living with diseases and comorbid conditions that render them vulnerable. They are going to die, possibly after having caught it from you. Or me. Or somebody we gave it to unknowingly.

We are at a tipping point, and as a society we can no longer afford “business as usual.“ This isn’t “just the flu.” It’s an entirely different beast, and it has a lot of very intelligent doctors terrified.

Please, do not host public events, no matter how careful you plan to be, over the next few weeks at the very least.

If the events go ahead anyway and you have booked them, please do not attend. Traveling and spending time in close proximity with others is the worst thing we can be doing.

And lastly, let’s see if we can come up with some creative ways to help support the good people who make a living from these events, because they are going to take a big financial hit.

Thanks for listening. As I said at the beginning, I am not a man who is given to pleading, but just this one, I am begging you.

Richard

– Paranormal Study Facebook Post, 18 March 2020

Richard hit upon a lot of salient points that cannot be ignored.

We have been told that social distancing is key right now. People have to be at least 6′ apart to prevent inhalation of expelled airborne virus. We are also told to limit ourselves to groups of ten or less.

When we actually think about that for a second, for a room of just five people with one person in the center and every person being at least six feet apart from one another, that means the room has to be at least 12’x12′ (3.7mx3.7m) to practice recommended social distancing.

Unfortunately, social distancing will not protect you from the virus if anyone is, or has been infected in that same space. It has been demonstrated that the virus can easily live on surfaces for three days at a time and if someone exhales the virus, it can linger in the air three hours. (Harvard)

Therefor, it is estimated that every infected person will infect up to 1.5-3.5 more persons under normal conditions. (University of Michigan) For paranormal and other public events that have people in the same space regularly, that infection rate will rise due to the length of time the virus can survive thereby increasing viral exposure load.

One last note on Covid-19 from a viral perspective, this virus is very significant for one other reason – the length of time for contagiousness. Most respiratory viruses are only contagious typically one day before showing symptoms and up to two days after showing symptoms. This virus is completely different. From initial infection to showing symptoms, there is an incubation period of 2-14 days. During the entirety of this incubation period, you are contagious to others even though you are not showing any symptoms. This is called “asymptomatic.” It has been found that at least 10% of people infected with Covid-19 were infected by asymptomatic persons. (Science Daily)

There is a historical parallel to this asymptomatic exposure. Have you ever heard of Typhoid Mary? Mary Mallon was an asymptomatic cook who worked for several families and subsequently passed on typhoid fever causing over 50 infections and several deaths.

Affecting Paranormal Livelihoods

It is no secret that paranormal tourism is a big part of the community.

Proprietors of haunted hot spots will rent their space to groups that have booked it for private investigations. Individual persons or ghost hunting teams who booked these investigations will often sell tickets to investigate with the team in order to recoup rental costs, make some money and have fun investigating.

There are also conference promoters who gather large groups of people together for a full day(s) of lectures, vending and often ghost hunting.

Since the outbreak and spread of Covid-19, we have seen a lot of conference promoters cancel their events going well into April at this point. I have been slated to speak at two major conferences in April. Both have been canceled well in advance and I applaud the organizers who had the courage to cancel these events despite having secured talent from around the country and a location (including flights and hotel rooms) out of pocket.

Unfortunately, not all people are willing to take that step.

There are several public ghost hunts still set to happen; some less than two weeks from now at well-known public haunts that will pack in 20-30 persons on a ghost hunt. Think on that for a second.

Any attendee could be infected today and attend an event less than two weeks from now and infect others without showing any symptoms at all. Then those attendees can bring the virus everywhere with them and the subsequent viral spread can infect other people for several days at a time, and so forth down the infection line.

That is why Covid-19 is so dangerous. That is why most governments are requesting that we limit our contacts. Most states here in the US have already implemented laws that have closed recreational places that bring in crowds like bars, gyms, and restaurants. As of the time of this writing, there are still seven states in which there are no such restrictions.

Moral Responsibility

We have seen the aforementioned conference promoters refund ticket sales or actively try to reschedule their events into the summer months.

On the other hand, we have also seen people actively trying to sell every ticket they can for weekend ghost hunts.

We understand that self-employment does not guarantee unemployment insurance. Voluntarily ceasing a major source of income is a hard idea to comprehend when the future is so uncertain. Tens of thousands of businesses are going through this same issue right now as are hundreds of thousands of recently unemployed workers. People who are lucky enough to still have their jobs are being asked to work from home if they can.

Yet there are so many who do not follow these guidelines. We are seeing gatherings in the news on beaches during spring break. Churches are packing in hundreds of parishioners. Grocery stores have people lined up next to each other.

And paranormal enthusiasts are currently gathering together at haunted locations much to the chagrin of medical professionals.

It’s easy to understand why. In times of social isolation, we crave being with like-minded individuals because we are social creatures. Events allow us to engage with each other in common pursuit, make new friends, help us to explore the unknown and have a good time while doing it.

But is a one-night social event worth your life?

Regardless of the location or intent, wherever people gather, there is a very high chance of spreading infection right now.

Because of this, it is paramount that moral responsibility be practiced by those who are putting on events. Each and every paranormal event may result in a person(s) dying – if not the attendee of the event, then quite possibly an immuno-compromised or elderly relative. Or possibly even you, as the promoter who attends these events regularly, may die as a result.

That is a harsh truth and we are sorry to address it on this site, but it must be done.

We have seen event promoters claiming that they are not forcing anyone to come so they are not to be blamed for other peoples’ choices. Another justification is that if the government hasn’t said not to do it, then it must be fine.

That is where moral responsibility comes into play.

Event promoters, please do the right thing and cancel your upcoming events if they happen before may. A person infected today may not show infection for up to two weeks and then there is 2-8 weeks of recovery time or a slow slide towards death.

People are dying en masse from this virus and it is going to get much worse. What guarantees can you give your attendees that the event space has been thoroughly cleaned?

Event promoters, ask yourself, do you want to be inadvertently responsible for people dying so you can make a few more dollars? Or would you rather cancel now and have your clients come back again and again when they are healthy after this virus has run its course?

For ticket holders to upcoming events. If the event looks like it will be held during this epidemic crisis, ask to get your ticket transferred to a future date. No event is ever worth risking your health and well-being for a few hours of entertainment.

It just isn’t worth it.

Instead, read books and articles like this one to educate yourself for the time being. We have a bunch of free materials in our Library and numerous articles that have been published.

If you absolutely must go out, please practice social distancing. This may preclude carpooling or investigating together as a group. For ghost hunting teams that are still doing business and residential investigations, there are many more considerations for you now as you may do much more harm than good when investigating someone’s home should you be infected. Or you may become infected yourself.

Considering that the paranormal field is a hobby for the vast majority of us, risking you life just is not worth it. Your clients will understand.

We all hope this will blow over in a couple months and it will be business as usual. Until then, please stay healthy.

Remember, you can only explore the unknown from this side of the veil.

Did You Learn Something New?

If you found the content in this article to be of any value to your paranormal studies, please let us know in the comments below. Feel free to share this article with your friends as well!

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