Storm chasing and the 2020 coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

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Jan 14, 2011
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2,744
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St. Louis
stormhighway.com
Of course I'm afraid, we all are. Mostly for my family and my friends. I'm not very concerned about me, though maybe I should be.

When you travel, you are forced into multiple nodes of potential infection at great distances from one another. You can take precautions at gas stations to mitigate, but not completely eliminate, that risk. This is the intent of all of the non-essential travel bans. We can nitpick the rules all we like, but a long cross-state or interstate trip with two or more gas stops in different areas introduces the risk for a inter-region transmission event. A local drive using only your home gas station does not carry that inter-region transmission risk at all. I agree the wording in the orders is not doing a good job in giving loophole-proof instructions, but we can see what the intent of them are. Otherwise, why issue the orders at all if they can so easily be self-excepted? Furthermore, we have a doctor who is one of us and is on the front lines of this thing, communicating the very same concept.

And think of the fact that as an individual, you may not have much of an impact by yourself. But chasers all over the USA right now are going through the exact same rationalization processes, trying to hold on to hope for the season and using those perceived loopholes to talk themselves into going on a chase trip. I had been experiencing this too. Doing that en mass will result in hundreds or even a thousand chasers roaming the Plains, all in the same mindset. In that scenario, the chances of a chaser-caused inter-regional transmission event seems very high.

Would warning the Great Plains region of hundreds or a thousand chasers coming from out-of-state be devastating to the chase community? Yes it would, and I do not take that lightly. I am not here to be spiteful or vindictive. Many of you that know me know I do not operate that way, and I hope that my track record would lend credence to that. But consider if a chaser-caused inter-regional virus transmission event DID happen in the Plains. That will be *even more* devastating to the community. Which one do we want?

This has been very surreal and trying time for me. Most outside of the chase community agree with me. Most inside of it don't. All throughout this pandemic, there have been parts of the world watching what is happening and screaming the alarm to the rest of us. I eventually woke up and joined that category back in February, watching the pattern unfold here despite eveyone in denial and being mocked and laughed at. A week or so later, the predictions come true. I don't claim to have a crystal ball, but I can look at what has happened elsewhere and make a reasonable determination about what is likely to occur in our group as well.

I just think if I had family in the Great Plains, I would be terrified to see something like we saw in Illinois occuring every chase day, likely with 5 to 10 times the numbers involved.

All that being said, I have had several private discussions with those in the chase community that I respect. They all are concerned about my plans. In deference to them, and accepting the possibility that I could be wrong despite not being able to conceive of it, I will put the plans for a press release on indefinite hold. I do this because we are in an unprecedented time, and no one really knows the best way to handle these issues. There's no playbook to go by. I don't claim to have infallibility in assessing this situation, but it looks very, very serious for the chase community and I would plead with you to consider the implications of going on cross-country chase trips. Violating travel and quarantine orders remains a very big problem. I don't know what another solution could be, but I hope we can find one before it is too late.
 
Last edited:
May 25, 2014
357
152
11
He just said he's suspending. Don't kick him in the ribs.

This will all sort out fine. If we can keep our wits about us, wash our hands, and don't go around licking grocery shelving, the vast majority will be A-OK. The largest worry I have personally, and see as the obvious larger problem, isn't the virus. It's going to be the millions of broke, hungry people, and the potential for armed conflict that sort of standing, starving army brings with it.

Let's all stay cool, and keep our heads about us. Help feed your neighbors. Check on the olds.
 

Paul Bird

EF0
Aug 24, 2016
26
26
1
Xenia Oh
Dan, have you been on the roads lately? There's literally hundreds of cars at any given time around you. How would you differentiate between chasers and the rest? I doubt they restrict travel any further than what it already is. Most chasers would simply turn their dot off. I noticed you're withholding going to the press, which is good, I simply mean to state there are far worse people out there not taking any precautions whatsoever. Chasers and spotters are not the ones to worry about. As long as chasers stay in their car away from others. "Driving for leisure".

I live in Ohio and have no plans to go to the plains this year. However I fully intend on chasing as far as Illinois.
 
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May 18, 2004
285
85
11
48
Centennial, CO
stormdoctor.com
I'm just popping in briefly to comment and then plan on popping back out since my schedule is full these days.

I have posted this on my FB feed, and will speak briefly on a couple points; Dan has also shared my thoughts in this and other locations for which I'm grateful. LONG POST...please read it all before responding.

Before we get into whether or not chasing is a recreational activity that is excluded from any stay at home orders, it is important to note both the legal and public health aspects of what we're talking about.

If you chase close to your home (arbitrarily we'll say within 100 miles) and you're still in your own state, you're unlikely to be violating these orders in most circumstances. However, local police may take a very unkind view of you chasing, and if you're from out of state, there's an even greater risk you could be cited, fined, or arrested depending upon local ordinances or decrees. Purely from a realistic point of view, if LEOs think you're violating the law or the orders, they have a liberal way to interpret it in any one circumstance. The farther you are away from where you live, the more likely you may be seen as a problem. I'm not saying that's a fact--I have no law degree, I'm just aware of how some LEOs have looked at chasers and this could be an excuse for them to make arrests or detain chasers now that the law has shifted in favor of limiting travel.

I'm also a human being--it is hard if a storm is just east of where I live not to want to chase it. A lot of my likelihood of chasing it this year, though, depends on seeing that curve flatten. If we continue with the current growth we have, I have a responsibility NOT to be liberal with these orders and that brings me to #2.

A lot of people think the public health response has been overblown and that travel around the states is harmless and that by staying in their cars and social distancing they are doing the right thing. Some believe chasing, by virtue of being in rural areas a lot of the time, qualifies as safe especially given how good the ambient ventilation is (I mean, wind dilutes the air pretty quickly :)).

But here's the deal: Not one person who traveled anywhere while infected but asymptomatic thought they were doing anything wrong. Some people even defied Governor-mandated quarantines to take their daughters to a daddy-daughter dance, for example, because of the perceived low risk they felt they had (to be specific, that particular father wasn't infected but had another daughter who was and who he'd interacted with prior to going to the dance). People feel very confident they're not the problem.

Take drivers. I really think I'm a great driver. I speed (habitually), but I also think I'm damned good at what I'm doing. I think people who go <55 mph shouldn't be on highways. And, for that matter, if you're in the left lane and there's a huge gap of cars in front of you and you're not speeding, I'm likely seething in the car behind you. My thoughts, embarrassing as these are, are that other drivers need to drive like I do and we'd be good to go.

None of what I wrote is a lie--this is how I think (even though it's a tad embarrassing to have that out there for the record). But, I think you can see my hypocrisy. There is an absolute increase of 8% likelihood of dying in a car accident for every 5 mph over 50mph that you go. No matter that I think I'm good at driving, I bet I scare a lot of people who see me driving that way. I bet in their minds, I am the problem. And y'know what, I have to remind myself of all those things all the time so that I can drive properly and safely.

This has been studied exhaustively--for the record, here is a good study referring to this: Harré N, Sibley CG. Explicit and implicit self-enhancement biases in drivers and their relationship to driving violations and crash-risk optimism. Accid Anal Prev. 2007 Nov;39(6):1155-61. Epub 2007 Mar 30.

So, back to public health. The same explicit and implicit risk bias exists in chasers in regard to chasing this year. Say it with me, "I'm not the problem--and I'll be safe." Do you see how, after covering driving bias, how easy it is to believe you're not the problem? Here are some facts. Patients with COVID may be infectious with the highest viral loads (amount of infectiousness) during an asymptomatic period for up to 5 days.

Let's emphasize that again: NO SYMPTOMS and HIGH INFECTIOUSNESS for up to 5 days. That's the reality. When the disease manifests it often goes through a several day period of increasing muscle aches, dry cough, sore throat, fevers (in a majority but NOT in all case), possibly with some diarrhea and abdominal pain. Then it hits pretty hard days 7-10 where shortness of breath comes in, coughing is common, and some of those patients will crash and burn and requiring intubation.

Now, I've seen the counter argument: the same scenario is that I spread the disease where I'm living and so it doesn't matter where I am--home or chasing elsewhere I'll still get others sick. But that's not really true. When we chase we travel through small towns and stop to use the restroom or gas up, we DO risk transmitting disease by virtue of our traveling there. Sure, other travelers are equally likely to do this, but is that really good logic? That's like saying someone is going to rob the liquor store, so it may as well be me instead of some more unsavory character.

The goal of stay at home is to reduce the risk of ANY disease transmission. If people aren't going places and aren't getting together then there is no spread of the virus and we may get the disease to quiet down.

Let me also share with you a profound story. A patient of mine didn't know he had COVID. His daughter requested that her planned wedding 10 days ago go forward since it was to be a "small ceremony." Turns out he had COVID while he was there. He infected his parents and the grooms parents. All 4 are in the ICU. He feels horrible and he is 100% responsible for causing them harm. He was asymptomatic at the time and now he's inches from being on a ventilator himself. It was supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime event, and it was. But now at least one of them will likely die if not 2 from this problem of self-enhancement bias. They defied the order and people who wouldn't have normally interacted did, and here we are.

Also, let's remind ourselves what happens if we end up in an accident where we're traveling and we get hurt or hurt others. Those injuries could result in limited hospital beds being taken up by us. This isn't a theory, it's a reality.

So, what's a reasonable approach given all that I've shared? Well for starters, obey your state laws and the SPIRIT in which they are written. Storm chasing is a bright light in our lives during what is clearly a very dark time. But this time will pass, and storms will come again. We have a responsibility to the towns we travel through, to the people we pass, to each other, not to spread the disease. Maybe the curve will flatten, and come late May things will be different. I don't think they will be as a guy who currently works COVID 24/7. I won't depress you anymore, but I'll tell you that we could be dealing with this through NEXT spring...really.

I've said what I came here to say. If you're selfish enough or arrogant enough after all that I've posted not to care about what I've posted, well, it sounds like Dan is going to call you out. I for one won't do that. But hopefully some of you will heed what I have to say.

Thanks,

Jason Persoff MD, SFHM
Associate Professor of Hospital Medicine
Assistant Director of Emergency Preparedness
University of Colorado Hospital

Also: the stormdoctor :).
 

Jesse Risley

Staff member
Apr 12, 2006
2,153
554
11
39
Macomb, IL
www.tornadoguys.com
All that being said, I have had several private discussions with those in the chase community that I respect. They all are concerned about my plans. In deference to them, and accepting the possibility that I could be wrong despite not being able to conceive of it, I will put the plans for a press release on indefinite hold. I do this because we are in an unprecedented time, and no one really knows the best way to handle these issues. There's no playbook to go by. I don't claim to have infallibility in assessing this situation, but it looks very, very serious for the chase community and I would plead with you to consider the implications of going on cross-country chase trips. Violating travel and quarantine orders remains a very big problem. I don't know what another solution could be, but I hope we can find one before it is too late.
I've said previously that I philosophically agree with social distancing and minimizing superfluous recreational travel, at least right now. My issue was only with a categorization being taken to the media that "the majority of the chase community" was labeled as being of a certain opinion and then taking that to said media for them to consider further ostracization of "the community" sans no valid, hard data. That's engaging in broad-brush behavior that unfairly labels a lot of people who haven't had their positions properly aired.

Personally I think you'd be wiser taking Dr. Persoff's approach and focusing on the educational side of the medical, public health and social concerns. You have a wide platform, are well-known, and could probably at least share this educational approach with a broader platform than ST and FB. People do need to hear multiple viewpoints. However, when you start making public proclamations to stool pigeon, based on potentially faulty data and anonymous crowdsourced reports, that's problematic.

I think it's important to get terminology right too. Most chasers are NOT quarantined. A few states have ordered their residents to quarantine for 14-days if they traveled to a hot zone recently, as has the federal government if you traveled to certain international destinations and just returned. A quarantine is essentially home confinement and total isolation, so accusing people of violating quarantine is false unless they fall into one of those very specific categories of travel to a specific hot zone area in the last week or later. I am probably the only person on the forum who was specifically placed on a quarantine by the county health department after I returned from Germany and Austria on March 13th - March 26th (there's a backstory to how that happened that isn't pertinent here). I complied with the order; law enforcement monitored compliance and actually made a house call on the afternoon of the 20th. Most states being discussed here have far more liberal have stay-at-home orders that apply to their residents or limit non-essential travel therein.

Though outside the scope of this immediate discussion to a degree, there is quit a bit of open defiance of these stay-at-home orders by the general public, or at least families engaging behavior like taking an outing to Walmart to browse around, and a plethora of leeway for what I would never classify as essential workers and essential travel were the states really adamant about flattening the curve. I think that poses a concern, and how significant of a pool chasers are in becoming vectors themselves can be debated, though those are separate issues.
 

Paul Bird

EF0
Aug 24, 2016
26
26
1
Xenia Oh
Reading Jason's post above, i think there are a lot of misconceptions about driving. Most states allow you to drive for leisure.. I know several officers who said they wont stop you just to see where you're going..
 
Mar 16, 2004
115
24
11
New Jersey
I'm just popping in briefly to comment and then plan on popping back out since my schedule is full these days.

I have posted this on my FB feed, and will speak briefly on a couple points; Dan has also shared my thoughts in this and other locations for which I'm grateful. LONG POST...please read it all before responding.

Before we get into whether or not chasing is a recreational activity that is excluded from any stay at home orders, it is important to note both the legal and public health aspects of what we're talking about.

If you chase close to your home (arbitrarily we'll say within 100 miles) and you're still in your own state, you're unlikely to be violating these orders in most circumstances. However, local police may take a very unkind view of you chasing, and if you're from out of state, there's an even greater risk you could be cited, fined, or arrested depending upon local ordinances or decrees. Purely from a realistic point of view, if LEOs think you're violating the law or the orders, they have a liberal way to interpret it in any one circumstance. The farther you are away from where you live, the more likely you may be seen as a problem. I'm not saying that's a fact--I have no law degree, I'm just aware of how some LEOs have looked at chasers and this could be an excuse for them to make arrests or detain chasers now that the law has shifted in favor of limiting travel.

I'm also a human being--it is hard if a storm is just east of where I live not to want to chase it. A lot of my likelihood of chasing it this year, though, depends on seeing that curve flatten. If we continue with the current growth we have, I have a responsibility NOT to be liberal with these orders and that brings me to #2.

A lot of people think the public health response has been overblown and that travel around the states is harmless and that by staying in their cars and social distancing they are doing the right thing. Some believe chasing, by virtue of being in rural areas a lot of the time, qualifies as safe especially given how good the ambient ventilation is (I mean, wind dilutes the air pretty quickly :)).

But here's the deal: Not one person who traveled anywhere while infected but asymptomatic thought they were doing anything wrong. Some people even defied Governor-mandated quarantines to take their daughters to a daddy-daughter dance, for example, because of the perceived low risk they felt they had (to be specific, that particular father wasn't infected but had another daughter who was and who he'd interacted with prior to going to the dance). People feel very confident they're not the problem.

Take drivers. I really think I'm a great driver. I speed (habitually), but I also think I'm damned good at what I'm doing. I think people who go <55 mph shouldn't be on highways. And, for that matter, if you're in the left lane and there's a huge gap of cars in front of you and you're not speeding, I'm likely seething in the car behind you. My thoughts, embarrassing as these are, are that other drivers need to drive like I do and we'd be good to go.

None of what I wrote is a lie--this is how I think (even though it's a tad embarrassing to have that out there for the record). But, I think you can see my hypocrisy. There is an absolute increase of 8% likelihood of dying in a car accident for every 5 mph over 50mph that you go. No matter that I think I'm good at driving, I bet I scare a lot of people who see me driving that way. I bet in their minds, I am the problem. And y'know what, I have to remind myself of all those things all the time so that I can drive properly and safely.

This has been studied exhaustively--for the record, here is a good study referring to this: Harré N, Sibley CG. Explicit and implicit self-enhancement biases in drivers and their relationship to driving violations and crash-risk optimism. Accid Anal Prev. 2007 Nov;39(6):1155-61. Epub 2007 Mar 30.

So, back to public health. The same explicit and implicit risk bias exists in chasers in regard to chasing this year. Say it with me, "I'm not the problem--and I'll be safe." Do you see how, after covering driving bias, how easy it is to believe you're not the problem? Here are some facts. Patients with COVID may be infectious with the highest viral loads (amount of infectiousness) during an asymptomatic period for up to 5 days.

Let's emphasize that again: NO SYMPTOMS and HIGH INFECTIOUSNESS for up to 5 days. That's the reality. When the disease manifests it often goes through a several day period of increasing muscle aches, dry cough, sore throat, fevers (in a majority but NOT in all case), possibly with some diarrhea and abdominal pain. Then it hits pretty hard days 7-10 where shortness of breath comes in, coughing is common, and some of those patients will crash and burn and requiring intubation.

Now, I've seen the counter argument: the same scenario is that I spread the disease where I'm living and so it doesn't matter where I am--home or chasing elsewhere I'll still get others sick. But that's not really true. When we chase we travel through small towns and stop to use the restroom or gas up, we DO risk transmitting disease by virtue of our traveling there. Sure, other travelers are equally likely to do this, but is that really good logic? That's like saying someone is going to rob the liquor store, so it may as well be me instead of some more unsavory character.

The goal of stay at home is to reduce the risk of ANY disease transmission. If people aren't going places and aren't getting together then there is no spread of the virus and we may get the disease to quiet down.

Let me also share with you a profound story. A patient of mine didn't know he had COVID. His daughter requested that her planned wedding 10 days ago go forward since it was to be a "small ceremony." Turns out he had COVID while he was there. He infected his parents and the grooms parents. All 4 are in the ICU. He feels horrible and he is 100% responsible for causing them harm. He was asymptomatic at the time and now he's inches from being on a ventilator himself. It was supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime event, and it was. But now at least one of them will likely die if not 2 from this problem of self-enhancement bias. They defied the order and people who wouldn't have normally interacted did, and here we are.

Also, let's remind ourselves what happens if we end up in an accident where we're traveling and we get hurt or hurt others. Those injuries could result in limited hospital beds being taken up by us. This isn't a theory, it's a reality.

So, what's a reasonable approach given all that I've shared? Well for starters, obey your state laws and the SPIRIT in which they are written. Storm chasing is a bright light in our lives during what is clearly a very dark time. But this time will pass, and storms will come again. We have a responsibility to the towns we travel through, to the people we pass, to each other, not to spread the disease. Maybe the curve will flatten, and come late May things will be different. I don't think they will be as a guy who currently works COVID 24/7. I won't depress you anymore, but I'll tell you that we could be dealing with this through NEXT spring...really.

I've said what I came here to say. If you're selfish enough or arrogant enough after all that I've posted not to care about what I've posted, well, it sounds like Dan is going to call you out. I for one won't do that. But hopefully some of you will heed what I have to say.

Thanks,

Jason Persoff MD, SFHM
Associate Professor of Hospital Medicine
Assistant Director of Emergency Preparedness
University of Colorado Hospital

Also: the stormdoctor :).
Thanks, Jason. I've been thinking about you. Keep the faith.
No single drop of rain believes that it's responsible for the flood.
Spent my second day on our COVID stepdown unit yesterday, all of my patients were under age 50.
I have my chase vacation 5/21-6/5; don't know if I'll be chasing, but I may really need the time off by then, if I can be spared. We'll see what our curve looks like.
The refrain in healthcare right now is "We go to work for you, please stay home for us."

Sean
 
May 18, 2004
285
85
11
48
Centennial, CO
stormdoctor.com
Reading Jason's post above, i think there are a lot of misconceptions about driving. Most states allow you to drive for leisure.. I know several officers who said they wont stop you just to see where you're going..
I don't doubt that. But chasers tend to stick out more than casual drivers. And they have the legal standing to see if your travel is legit. You're missing my point anyway.
 

Jesse Risley

Staff member
Apr 12, 2006
2,153
554
11
39
Macomb, IL
www.tornadoguys.com
Reading Jason's post above, i think there are a lot of misconceptions about driving. Most states allow you to drive for leisure.. I know several officers who said they wont stop you just to see where you're going..
There's an entire legal discussion to be had that is far beyond the scope of this thread, but the perplexing limitations that federalism has on the states is something the media has largely ignored and it is one that is unique to the United States. I brought it up earlier. Certain powers are reserved to the states, others are enumerated to the federal government specifically, and a few categories of powers are shared between both the states and the federal government.

There is a longstanding doctrine of freedom of movement (different from the PRIVILEGE to be able to operate a motor vehicle) under U.S. jurisprudence that is essentially a non-textual, fundamental right guaranteed by the Privileges and Immunities Clause in the U.S. Constitution, though the authority to protect that right was given to the states through several court cases. However, states cannot regulate interstate commerce, that duty rests with the federal government. Since states get federal highway funding and many highways and byways cross state lines, it would be hard for a state to totally restrict ingress and egress across state lines, and for non-residents, a principle that pre-dates the constitution and goes all the way back to the Articles of Confederation. Furthermore while citizens of one state who are temporarily visiting another state enjoy the “Privileges and Immunities” of a citizen of the latter state, they aren't bound by residency requirements (e.g., stay-at-home orders) that apply to residents, since they don't meet the durational threshold of that application of law against legal residents. All of this is further complicated by the fact that the government, be it state or federal, can limit your rights temporarily when the interest of promoting public safety and welfare justify individual intrusion or otherwise counterbalance individual liberty, but for how long and what extent remains to be seen. The Constitution isn't inherently a suicide pact.

Legally this is at least part of the reason why there is no national stay-at-home directive in place. The power to regulate public health and most police powers rest with the states thanks to federalism and the 10th Amendment. While Congress can pass legislation to "promote the general welfare of the people," there is no clear precedent for a federal stay-at-home order short of something like an actual declaration of martial law. States, because of limitations in the Constitution, for both residents and non-residents, are somewhat forced to create these stay-at-home orders that, short of a lockdown or martial law declared by a state governor within the borders of that state, are trying to balance law and order with freedom of movement in an area that most legal precedent has never directly dealt with, since travel to the extent we enjoy it today, particularly via automobile and aircraft, wasn't something the average citizen was able to partake in during the last pandemic in 1918.
 
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Paul Bird

EF0
Aug 24, 2016
26
26
1
Xenia Oh
Jason, so essentially unless the stay at home order reaches a federal level, we're ok? I cant see them restricting travel any further than what it is without essential functions closing as well.. Because parks, outdoor recreations are fine currently, as long as there is no grouping associated with it.
 
Trump is issuing a "no chase" order at noon. (April Fool's). Sorry, we needed a momentary break.

Seriously, none of this has occurred yet on a large scale. Again, I suggest we wait until the first big Plains day and see what happens. If you have chasers doing stupid things related to COVID-19, then call them out individually.
 
I have my chase vacation 5/21-6/5; don't know if I'll be chasing, but I may really need the time off by then, if I can be spared. We'll see what our curve looks like.
The refrain in healthcare right now is "We go to work for you, please stay home for us."

Sean
As a truck driver, I completely relate. We're also being run into the ground (for those who don't know, hours of service regs have been suspended for drivers hauling essential goods), so when this is all over, I'll need a week or so just to decompress and recharge. I can't even think about tomorrow past my delivery appointment, let alone a month or two from now. Until things settle down logistically, I've resigned myself to the fact that I won't have time off in that span, beyond the occasional reset when I'm too tired to function. And given how swamped the health system is right now, I don't expect to be patched up quickly if God forbid I get into a serious MVA (which statistically don't end well for truckers to begin with).

Aside from risk of transmission, that's the biggest risk to consider. If you do get in a serious accident, will there be beds available to help you? Unfortunately, I don't get to avoid that risk, and ironically enough, the closest I've ever gotten to a rollover was when a doc fell asleep at the wheel at 75mph and slammed into my trailer, nearly caused it to flip. Not saying I'd be opposed to something nearby, but anything outside 50 miles is probably something I wouldn't even attempt.
 
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Jul 29, 2004
99
9
6
New Jersey/Iowa
Like many others, I've wrestled with the decision on whether to chase this year in June. I've chased for the last 17 years and it is perhaps the only thing I truly look forward to in my life each year. Like a lot of you, I plan my entire year and my entire budget around chasing as much as possible.

Perhaps I have a different perspective because I live in New York City, the epicenter of the epidemic. But I have many friends who are doctors and they are begging all of us in a unified voice: please, for the love of god, stay home unless you have to make an absolutely essential trip, and, even then, keep your time out of the home to a minimum. By going out right now, I feel like I would be insulting my friends, doctors, those with pre-existing health conditions, our parents/grandparents who need to shop and the millions of other essential workers who don't have the luxury of staying home. Maybe we''ll have the ability to chase safely in June or maybe not. But now is definitely not the time.

I think this is better posed as a moral question rather than a legal question (and I say that as an Attorney). The question is not can you legally chase under the various orders, but rather should you chase with all that is going on. My answer to that question is "no", because if I unintentionally infected even one single person or got in a crash that caused hospital beds to be taken from COVID patients by virtue of chasing, then I would have serious trouble looking myself in the mirror and saying that I was a moral person and what I did was worth it. That is a decision for everyone to look into their heart and their soul and to make individually, but I'm hoping many will decide similarly.

I'm not in favor of naming and calling out chasers. But please, listen to your doctors and public health officials (they don't often beg - literally beg you to do something), and stay home for your friends, family, and others who don't have that luxury.
 

Lou Ruh

EF2
May 17, 2007
178
34
11
SE PA
I don't doubt that. But chasers tend to stick out more than casual drivers. And they have the legal standing to see if your travel is legit. You're missing my point anyway.
I agree with and appreciate everything you shared in your previous post. I live in a township in PA that was an early reporter of COVID-19 cases (the first in the county was a doctor in a children's hospital in a neighboring township ... the second was a police officer in my township). I also work as a volunteer fire police officer in my township and neighboring townships. One thing that is happening here (at least in my township based on conversations with the police ... and supported by the lack of traffic stops I hear on the scanner) is that the police are unlikely to stop anyone for anything unless there is an egregious violation of a law. After seeing what happened with the two local police officers who suffered the symptoms, they do not want to potentially expose themselves unnecessarily. Although I am not in anything remotely approaching prime chase territory, I doubt police locally would stop someone just because they "stuck out".

But, yeah, please be responsible and don't spread the virus (or do anything that could spread the virus even if you are not symptomatic) !!
 
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Jul 5, 2009
1,090
909
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Newtown, Pennsylvania
Here is a WSJ editorial that talks about some of the federalism issues Jesse discussed above. WSJ has a paywall but you may be able to access since it’s an editorial not an article. Or maybe it allows access to a certain number of items at no cost.

 
Feb 21, 2012
170
211
11
Wichita, KS
My only challenge to Jason's point is what if we can eliminate any risk at the gas station? I.e. sanitize everything we touch, and everything what we touch touches. I think there's an assumption in Dan and Dr. Persoff's claims that there is always a nonzero risk. I want to be sure if that is true, and how. I dont plan on going into restrooms. I dont plan on even ordering fast food. The only thing I will need to do is wrap my hand in a Clorox wipe to pump gas, then wipe everything down afterwards. I get that not all chasers are following these protocols, however why is it that if I'm eliminating my risk of transmission, I cant enjoy the legal recreational activity of sight seeing? Let's assume the legality is not an issue from a LEO standpoint because that was not Dr. Persoff's primary point. Curious to hear his thoughts.
 

Jesse Risley

Staff member
Apr 12, 2006
2,153
554
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39
Macomb, IL
www.tornadoguys.com
My only challenge to Jason's point is what if we can eliminate any risk at the gas station? I.e. sanitize everything we touch, and everything what we touch touches. I think there's an assumption in Dan and Dr. Persoff's claims that there is always a nonzero risk. I want to be sure if that is true, and how. I dont plan on going into restrooms. I dont plan on even ordering fast food. The only thing I will need to do is wrap my hand in a Clorox wipe to pump gas, then wipe everything down afterwards. I get that not all chasers are following these protocols, however why is it that if I'm eliminating my risk of transmission, I cant enjoy the legal recreational activity of sight seeing? Let's assume the legality is not an issue from a LEO standpoint because that was not Dr. Persoff's primary point. Curious to hear his thoughts.
I'm not a medical professional, so I'll leave that answer to them.

Law and ethics are mutually exclusive to a degree. So for the sake of discussion one could conclude that there are some legal loopholes, even though "Is it legal?" is usually one of several considerations in applying ethical principles, but it's not a unilateral threshold.
  1. Beneficence: Do your actions benefit society, or are they of detriment to others besides yourself? This is a utilitarian approach, but some have argued here that recreational chasing subjectively does NOT meet this threshold.
  2. Non-maleficence: One has a duty to aim to avoid harm to others through his/her/their actions.
  3. Autonomy: You are free to make a choice based on informed consent (probably not really an issue here).
  4. Justice - In the spirit of fairness, after weighting both the benefits and risks of your decisions, your modus operandi should not worsen existing inequities or unilaterally threaten one subgroup. Do COVID-19 at-risk subgroups disproportionately suffer harm from one's decision to chase, assuming one could be vector? Maybe?
That's a fairly logical framework that could be used to evaluate these decisions (i.e., recreational chasing outside of one's home turf - I'll go with Jason's 100 mile radius for the sake of argument) from an ethical standpoint.
 
Here are the possible ways you could spread or contract the virus when chasing. This includes the variable of you or someone else having the virus in an asymptomatic condition.

1: The person(s) if any, chasing with you contracts the virus from you, or you contract it from them.
2: Fuel stops. Pump handles, keyboards, credit card insertion (yes there are germs inside those machines) or squeegee use. Another customer nearby spreads the virus to you or your passenger(s). If you pay inside with cash, the risk goes up substantially.
3: Food stops. Even drive-in fast food joints pose some risk. Highway convenience stores are "high risk."
4: Restrooms. Hello deserted side of the road!
5: Mechanical breakdowns or stuck in the mud. So there WILL be some form of interaction to get you going again. If your vehicle is beyond repair, you are going to interact with many people to get home.
6: Accidents. This opens up an entire Pandora's box of issues.
7: Illness or injury. Yes, this happens. What if you get severe food poisoning or fracture your arm?
8: Disaster scenes. So are you going to help or just drive by?
9: Law enforcement interaction. The men and women who are out risking their own lives don't want to get your COVID when they pull you over.
10: Lodging. An entire Petri dish of disgusting possibilities.
11: Interactions with other chasers or the public. Don't say it will not happen. While you are stopped on the side of the road or getting fuel on a high risk day, someone will always come up and ask if there are going to "be any storms today."
12: You already have the virus and get sick while on the road.
13: Crime. You are the victim of a robbery and/or assault and are exposed to the virus from contact with the felon(s) or during the legal and/or medical process afterwards. Things could get super jiggy by May so crime WILL be on the rise.
14: You are detained for breaking the law, e.g., ignoring no travel orders or the cop just hates chasers. Have fun in jail with the big guy who cannot stop coughing.
15: Going home. So you have been really careful. But have you? Do you want to risk bringing something home to your family or friends?
 
Jan 16, 2009
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Kansas City
My thoughts on these though this is not my advice ...

1: The person(s) if any, chasing with you contracts the virus from you, or you contract it from them. Chase alone
2: Fuel stops. Pump handles, keyboards, credit card insertion (yes there are germs inside those machines) or squeegee use. Another customer nearby spreads the virus to you or your passenger(s). If you pay inside with cash, the risk goes up substantially. Park away from people and do as has already been detailed in this thread (wipes, etc)
3: Food stops. Even drive-in fast food joints pose some risk. Highway convenience stores are "high risk." Bring food with you
4: Restrooms. Hello deserted side of the road! Side of road away from people like most of us do now
5: Mechanical breakdowns or stuck in the mud. Yes this could be a concern but worse case rope out from a distance on mud.
6: Accidents. This opens up an entire Pandora's box of issues. Yes this could be an issue for sure but I have never had one (Knocking on wood)
7: Illness or injury. Yes, this happens. What if you get severe food poisoning or fracture your arm? Never happened before doubt it does now
8: Disaster scenes. So are you going to help or just drive by? In most cases you do more harm than good ... are you qualified…let EM handle this
9: Law enforcement interaction. The men and women who are out risking their own lives don't want to get your COVID when they pull you over. This has been detailed they will not stop you IF you follow the driving laws.
10: Lodging. An entire Petri dish of disgusting possibilities. Camp or drive home
11: Interactions with other chasers or the public. Stay away from people … do not roll your window down. People are also distancing so the chances are low of a conversation
12: You already have the virus and get sick while on the road. Not likely that it just pops up … you would not go if you felt even a little ill.
13: Going home. So you have been really careful. But have you? Do you want to risk bringing something home to your family or friends? Same can be said going to the store. But you can remove clothes before you enter the house, wash clothes and shower.
 
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Reactions: Michael Towers
Apr 16, 2017
17
10
1
richland hills, tx
You do realize with out trained spotters/chasers a lot of night time tors would go unreported and confirmed right?
Make your own food before you leave. If need be sleep in your vehicle. If you get gas dur wear gloves then throw them away. Most chasers spend the entire time by themselves (holy crap self distancing. It's amazing) and rarely interact with somebody unless it's a quick "hey man long time no see....oh hell nader" then it's off to the races again.

You'll also be told to screw off by any call taker who answers your call because you're wasting their time unless you can give exact location and proof it's a group of atleast 10 (since that's what the orders are, are no groups of more than 10).

Also all the officer will do is drive up and tell them to go away. Since they don't want to actually want to interact with people unless there is a felony going on so they won't even ticket them.

Long story short, you've wasted time, energy and resources all to try and play " big brother" when really all you've done is annoyed the entire community who used to respect you. (Not me, i still have no idea who you are) good job.
 
Feb 21, 2012
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Wichita, KS
Personally I was not looking for a comprehensive list of ways you can spread the virus. That is obvious. It appear the only one that is not mitigatable is the risk of getting in a car wreck. But that is always a risk when chasing so again are we never going to chase again because we are putting others at risk? I have not needed roadside assistance a single time in my 8 years of chasing (knock on wood) but if I do, I will maintain social distancing protocol as necessary. Additionally, I have been practically isolated for nearly three weeks. Who's to say I can't self quarantine for two weeks before chasing so I'm 100% certain I'm not a carrier? I still have not seen a risk that cant really be mitigated here. If we're talking one in a million probabilities preventing us from chasing then we are focusing on the wrong risks.
 
I want to make it clear I was not saying "don't go chase." I'll likely go out sometime in May or June for a day or two chase in E. NM or Western, TX if I can do it without interacting with people. I seriously doubt it, but the entire travel infrastructure could be so seriously damaged by May that chasing will be impossible, e.g., gas station closures or severe shortages. We are making so many assumptions right now. In this pandemic environment, anything is possible from day to day. Right now, the models suggest April will be a dud.

Most chasers in this group are careful people. We work and play in a dangerous environment that requires some level of caution and preparation. The people I'm most concerned about are the aggressive, idiotic chasers not on this list or the locals who could make it hard (or dangerous) for the rest of us if they get out of control and piss-off local LEO. Like I said before, chasers are not welcomed in all counties and there is still bad blood between the chase community and some officials, in addition to a few media outlets.