An upcoming furry convention is no longer requiring its attendees to be tested or vaccinated, causing rifts to form within the furry community. Furry Weekend Atlanta (or FWA), set to take place in Atlanta, Georgia from May 11 to 14, wrote that its directors are basing their decision on the loss of federal funding for rapid testing.
On March 12, the leadership team posted a letter on the Furry Weekend Atlanta website and Twitter account stating the reasons why they’re dropping testing and booster requirements. The more effective Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests (NAAT) normally cost $100-200, and federal funding for the coronavirus emergency will end on May 11 (which is the first day of the convention). FWA wrote that paying for tests out-of-pocket would be cost-prohibitive for both attendees and the convention itself.
The convention was originally going to require a negative test in place of a vaccination requirement, though neither a negative test nor vaccination prevents attendees from catching covid at the event itself. FWA also wrote that it would bring back a masking requirement if infection levels are high during the event, and that there will be a “limited supply of surgical masks and hand sanitizer available to attendees who request them.” Kotaku reached out to ask how it would be enforced, but did not receive a response by the time of publication.
The directors advised attendees to get the bivalent booster, but noted that less than 17% of the U.S. population have done so. They also claimed that international guests have little to no access to the booster, and so making the booster a requirement for attendance was unfair. The document did not mention how the lack of booster requirements would would affect immunocompromised convention-goers.
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Worse, the convention will not be enforcing the vaccination requirements from last year. FWA has a perfectly reasonable explanation for why they would no longer be requiring any vaccines at all: Their effectiveness declines over time. They claim that they don’t want to give attendees a “false sense of security” by implementing half-measures.
The announcement attracted those who felt the change was a victory for con-goers against covid measures. Some mocked attendees for being concerned about the prevalence of coronavirus. Others felt that conventions should never have been willing to accommodate the immunocompromised, or those who were reasonably anxious about covid. Some weirdos were proud of being unvaxxed, or doubted the effectiveness of vaccines. Bro, being a furry falls within a normal human range of social behavior. Being an antivaxxer does not.
Conversely, many community members publicly disagree with FWA’s decision. “I feel like you should at least require the two base shots, even if they were received a while ago,” tweeted one commenter. “It’s better than nothing, and at least it’ll filter out all the weird antivax people.” Another wondered why FWA can’t “require” bivalent boosters like Anthro New England had. A previous attendee felt that the timing of the announcement was “shitty” and felt that last year’s “lax” mask enforcement created a “super-spreader event.”
Some pointed out that such a serious life-or-death topic should not be discussed with overly-casual language like “go get your heckin’ booster.” The directors may have been “shedding tears and hugging it out to come to this decision,” but I doubt that it reassures furries who are concerned about their wellbeing.