COVID 19 and the 2021 Chase Season

Dave C

EF2
Jun 5, 2013
122
176
11
Denver
www.davidcrowlphotography.com
Will do what I did last year if needed! Bring all my own food and beverages. Twin Mattress in my car. Only interaction with humans/covid is gas stations.
Same approach. I will be self contained with chemical toilet, food and water, car fridge/freezer unit, sleeping pad, masks and gloves for high touch surfaces like gas pumps (even though the risk in surfaces that see sunlight goes way down). I doubt I will even go into gas stations unless I really need to or if they are very slow. Restaurants will be a hard no. Grocery only if truly required. Always masked indoors.

I will be willing to stay in hotels with precautions of a wipedown of glossy surfaces and adequate non-central ventilation in the room. Will prefer ones without a lobby, or just at check-in there once and use the side door and stairs vs. elevator. The less I can be in others airspace, the happier I will be.

Any people contact anywhere indoors or within less than 8 feet of people not traveling with me will be with me wearing N95 masks, which are now gradually becoming available for consumers again if you know where to find the genuine ones.

If I chase with anyone, they must be practicing safe isolation habits and masking in their life and be symptom free when we leave for a chase. I won't require mask use in the car, but around anyone outside our bubble I will, to protect others and their communities.

Also if I experience any symptoms of anything I will isolate in my vehicle and immediately return home rather than dare expose any rural areas.
 
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Dave C

EF2
Jun 5, 2013
122
176
11
Denver
www.davidcrowlphotography.com
My biggest hesitation is just bathrooms. Even here in Georgia which has been somewhat more open than other areas, bathrooms in private establishments (mainly gas stations) are still hit or miss. Rest areas on interstates are open, but very little of my chase territory here gets near them.
I bought a foldup toilet seat and waste bags, with kitty litter. Total cost ~55 dollars US. Sets up fine inside my SUV behind the passenger seat for a quick temporary relief. I put sunshades up on the main windows (I also have dark tint), setup the toilet seat, place the bag, do the business, add kitty litter, seal the bag and place it in the odor liner outer bag, and then later deposit the bags in the trash (completely legal). No odors or issues with the system. No worries about having to stop and find an open bathroom, and also feels safer to me than using high touch surfaces at a busy truck stop or gas station, and alleviates my worry of giving someone anything if I was an asymptomatic carrier. The only place I stopped near any people last year was gas pumps, and was totally self contained. Even at gas pumps I wear a mask and one glove and touch nothing.
 
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Mar 30, 2008
1,275
1,163
21
Norman, OK
www.benholcomb.com
No changes for me this year. The extremely cheap motel and gas prices made last year great. If only we had any weather to go with it.

Cautiously optimistic on prospects this season. Unless they can somehow stop interstate travel, I plan to be everywhere from Mexico to Canada this year. Unfortunately oil and gas prices are rising and should continue that trend. I drove from Norman to Atlanta on $50 back in November. Don't expect we'll see prices that low this spring.
 

JeremyS

EF3
Mar 12, 2014
277
378
11
Omaha, NE
This chart may help ease some concerns. Total active Covid-19 cases in the plains (chart is for Kansas) have been dropping dramatically since its high on November 9th. One explanation is that we may have reached herd immunity way sooner than predicted. Regardless, the possibility exists that Covid-19 could be all but done in the plains by April if the total count continues to fall at its current rate. View attachment 21103
Herd immunity is reached when conservatively 60-70% of the population has been infected. Sorry, Kansas and this country as a whole is nowhere near this level. There are a multitude of reasons why cases go up and down and right now herd immunity is not one of them.
 
Jul 1, 2014
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Herd immunity is reached when conservatively 60-70% of the population has been infected. Sorry, Kansas and this country as a whole is nowhere near this level. There are a multitude of reasons why cases go up and down and right now herd immunity is not one of them.
That would be correct based on the reported number of cases. However, there is a very large, but unknown population that had Covid , but was never tested for it. They could have been asymptomatic or simple didn’t feel the need to test. I personally know a pile of people in the latter group. If the dramatic drop in cases continues and largely doesn’t come back we will know. In the meantime the mask mandates are pretty much a thing of the past in the plains and it’s looking like all systems go for a Great Plains chase season!
 

JeremyS

EF3
Mar 12, 2014
277
378
11
Omaha, NE
That would be correct based on the reported number of cases. However, there is a very large, but unknown population that had Covid , but was never tested for it. They could have been asymptomatic or simple didn’t feel the need to test. I personally know a pile of people in the latter group. If the dramatic drop in cases continues and largely doesn’t come back we will know. In the meantime the mask mandates are pretty much a thing of the past in the plains and it’s looking like all systems go for a Great Plains chase season!
Definitely wouldn't be because of the vaccine rollout and being past the holiday season etc. right?:rolleyes:
 

Warren Faidley

Supporter
May 7, 2006
1,939
2,013
21
Mos Isley Space Port
www.stormchaser.com
Hopefully, hotel operations will be back to "semi-normal" by May. One problem I encountered while hurricane chasing was motel room availability. Most hotels were only booking at 50 percent occupancy to avoid over crowding, so it was difficult to find a room on some nights - especially weekends. I'm assuming with an eventual reduction in fracking, more rooms will be available in the petroleum areas.
 
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J Sims

Enthusiast
Feb 16, 2021
2
2
1
Jacksonville, Florida
Storm chasing for me this year will be thin, unless it is Northeast Florida or Southeast Georgia I won't be able to. Due to the restrictions placed on me by the Navy due to Covid. Traveling won't be in my future. I'm really just stuck within 150 miles of Mayport/Jacksonville, Florida, leave will be next to impossible to get for me for anything outside that.

With the way I see everything going due to Covid, I still think most if not all restrictions due to covid will still be in place come this spring/summer. I don't see the Navy reducing restrictions on me until at least next year or this coming winter. 2022 sounds like a better chance for me.
 

Jeff House

Supporter
Jun 1, 2008
613
668
11
Chattanooga, TN
www.linkedin.com
Plan to chase this year. Per a couple brief family trips my travel system has worked. Went to the beach and snow skiing, both naturally distant, like storm chasing.

Motels I like to bring my own pillow case, because that's where we breathe. No cumbersome spare sheets etc. Clean the remote and handles extra well. Breakfast is usually take-out from the Lobby now; so, I can have my hot breakfast.

Gas stations (pumps, any doors and bathrooms) just use a paper towel or disposable gloves. Many state's rest stops have automated doors now which helps.

Restaurants take-out and tip like dine-in; or, eat outside if we can get upwind. Once outside was so crowded we went indoors (because that was empty).

My understanding is all the Tornado Alley states are open. Most have masks which is good for me. We can get fuel, eat, and get lodging.

We sometimes chat with other chasers if we know them; but, that might have to be reduced, at distance, or outdoors only. I always wave at others in the field, no change.
 

Bill Hark

EF5
Jan 13, 2004
1,315
286
11
53
Richmond Virginia
www.harkphoto.com
One of the things I'll miss this year is the big chaser dinner get togethers at some restaurant either after a big day or in anticipation of the next day. I usually try to balance "alone time" and being social. As for risk, I'll rank meals inside as the highest risk, then using public rest rooms and lastly waiting in line inside at a gas station.
 

Randy Jennings

Supporter
May 18, 2013
575
583
11
I did my first multi-day longer chase for this season this last Fri and Sat in the Texas panhandle. A few observations for you:

1) Mask usage is almost non-existent in small towns (expect for a some employees at gas stations and fast food).
2) Mask usage is more common in cities like Lubbock, but is still less than it is in DFW.
3) Be prepared to have your food made and served by a staff not wearing masks (for example we stopped at a Braum's and only 2 of the dozen employees where wearing masks, and
4) We had a hard time finding a hotel room in Lubbock. It was spring break, Texas Tech Sorority Parent's Weekend, and at least one softball tournament was in town. I don't know if it was that or if there really is a reduction in rooms due to COVID.
 

James Gustina

Supporter
Mar 9, 2010
664
303
11
26
Dallas, TX
www.thunderingskies.blogspot.com
1) Mask usage is almost non-existent in small towns (expect for a some employees at gas stations and fast food).
100% accurate. The Clarendon Sonic staff this past Saturday (3/13) were all masked up but I don't think I saw another one that wasn't on a chaser at our gas stops in Clarendon and Elk City. Not necessarily something I was worried about as I didn't really go indoors anywhere but definitely something to keep in mind at any sit down places out on the Plains.
 

Shawn Gossman

Supporter
Feb 9, 2007
275
46
11
36
Metropolis, Illinois
www.shawngossman.com
I think I would continue chasing and try to put an emphasis on the points of contactless stops such as bring your own food, use drive-thru while masked and pay at the pump and of course, wear a face covering when you need to. I really recommend that in the states that are opening up completely.

I think masks are something that we need to get used to. On a related but unrelated note, I am super curious what the results of the flu season, the last one, will look like since more people than before were masking up. A low flu season might be good evidence for the effectiveness or at least fuel for the argument of using them.
 

Shawn Gossman

Supporter
Feb 9, 2007
275
46
11
36
Metropolis, Illinois
www.shawngossman.com
I despise confrontation, especially of the kind where I'm the one being responsible and being called out for it. Be prepared for more.
The pandemic has really shown how souless people can be, huh? I have a degree in public health - I just look at those folks and assume they are either uneducated in it or just conspiracy nuts.

Keep doing what you feel is right and ignore to fuss that some "I'm so entitled" people display.
 
Apr 10, 2008
503
259
11
Tulsa, OK
www.facebook.com
I received my first vaccine (Moderna) yesterday, and will get my second dose on April 16. I have continued to chase solo so far this spring, however by May I plan on having ride-alongs and chasing with my usual chase partners who have also vaccinated. Numbers in Tulsa continue to decline and Oklahoma is in the top 10 nationally for vaccinations. I am hopeful we are nearing the end of the pandemic. I am optimistic things will continue to trend back to normal as we enter prime chase season. Hopefully the atmosphere will trend above normal with severe weather on the Plains.
 
I’m chasing with 4 other people and we all agreed beforehand that we would be vaccinated before we all got into a van together. I received my single dose of Johnson & Johnson last week and I had Covid-19 last year so I’m fairly confident I’ll be ok. The others all have received at least one of the two dose vaccines.

I got the CDC vaccine card and wonder if it will be necessary to carry it with me when traveling in the Great Plains.

By the way, I didn’t have any side effects from the J&J vaccine and neither did my wife.
 
Mar 5, 2010
334
57
11
Cascade, CO
Vaccines distribution in CO is going very well! I should be fully vaccination by the time the season really picks up. Until then I will continue to self contain (sleeping in car, bringing cooler etc). I hope other states are doing as well!!!
 

Randy Jennings

Supporter
May 18, 2013
575
583
11
You will certainly feel self-conscious if you walk into a gas station on the plains and you are the only one wearing a mask. I will say that on my recent chase in the TX panhandle, a lot of employees at gas stations where wearing them. I don't know if it was by choice or the company made them. The way I look at it is that clerk may be making the choice themselves, and that if I wear one they may fell more comfortable around me.
 
Apr 13, 2009
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38
6
If you look at what's going on in Europe I think we're in for another surge. In this country we have newer more contagious variants spreading, governments pulling back quickly in some areas, upcoming Easter gatherings, and people letting their guard down. Yes, many people are getting vaccinated, but those getting shots were probably the more cautious ones to begin with. The ones not being careful and spreading it are probably the least likely to get vaccines.

That said, I am hopeful that numbers will decline again in late April or early May thanks to increasing vaccination rates and people getting spooked by the next surge. Or maybe we already have enough vaccines out there to prevent a surge. At the very least, deaths and hospitalizations should not rise as high as before as many of the most vulnerable have been vaccinated already.
 
Feb 20, 2019
30
24
6
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Decatur, GA
Earlier I mentioned the bathroom issue. I have a partial solution: public parks. Many parks have bathroom facilities. An advantage during these times is particularly on the days when we're likely to be chasing, the parks usually have a dearth of people. Even around Atlanta on weekends, I've never seen a bathroom facility to be crowded even if the park is fairly busy. Whether you feel it's right to use them if you're not a resident, nor a "user" of the rest of the park, I leave to you, but it is an option.