WHAT IS IT?

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The disease has spread globally since 2019, resulting in the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic. Common symptoms include fever, cough and shortness of breath. Muscle pain, sputum production and sore throat are less common symptoms. While the majority of cases result in mild symptoms, some progress to pneumonia and multi-organ failure. The deaths per number of diagnosed cases is estimated at between 1% and 5% but varies by age and other health conditions (source: Wikipedia).

HOW DOES IT AFFECT AMATEUR RADIO?

There is no evidence whatsoever that the virus can be transmitted by radio.

All kidding aside, the amateur radio community is standing by in the unlikely event that we would be needed in an emergency situation.  On Friday March 13th the President declared a national emergency in response to the pandemic.  States and cities already have or may declare similar emergency responses.  Any emergency activation of amateur radio operators would take place through existing agencies (such as ARES and RACES) and their emergency operations plans.

What is affected, and may be affected for some time, is public gatherings. On Sunday March 15th, the Centers for Disease Control recommended cancellation of events with 50 or more people for the next eight weeks throughout the U.S. This can include club meetings, hamfests, conventions, and other activities.  Several hamfests in the Delta Division have already been canceled or postponed, including a couple that were in progress!  Each state and city has or will issue guidelines for such activities.  The White House issued further coronavirus guidance on Monday March 16th, recommending no social gatherings of 10 persons or more.

On March 22, 2020, Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs issued a curfew for the City of Vicksburg.  Phase 2 of Vicksburg’s COVID-19 Civil Emergency Plan includes adjusted business closing hours, limitations on business services, social distancing and limitations on gatherings. On March 24, 2020, Port Gibson Mayor Willie White issued an executive order implementing a curfew and business restrictions in response to the COVID-19 virus outbreak. On March 29, 2020 Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs strengthened city-wide restrictions following the first reported case of COVID-19 in Warren County.

On April 1, 2020, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves issued a shelter-in-place order for all of Mississippi. Virtually every state in the U.S. has some type of shelter-in-place or stay-at-home order in effect. The Mississippi order is in effect until 08:00 AM on Monday April 20, 2020 but may be extended, modified, or rescinded anytime prior to that date. On April 17, 2020 Governor Reeves extended the shelter in place order for another 7 days. On April 23, Governor Reeves ordered all Mississippi schools closed for the remainder of the academic year. On April 24, Governor Reeves signed the Safer at Home Order to begin reopening Mississippi’s economy. Other states, such as Alabama, Georgia, and Texas, are slowly removing lockdowns and allowing businesses to reopen.

The ARRL has posted cancellations of several hamfests and conventions, including the Dayton Hamvention.  On March 23, 2020, ARRL closed its headquarters to comply with an executive order from Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont requiring all non-essential businesses and not-for-profit entities reduce in-person workforces by 100%.  ARRL will equip as many headquarters staffers as possible to work remotely.  W1AW bulletin and code practice transmissions will continue.  Customer service representatives will be available to take calls, although response times could be longer than usual.  The ARRL warehouse will be working with a reduced staff, so orders will be delayed, and ARRL will not be able to respond to expedited shipping orders.

Additionally, there has been significant disruption to Volunteer Examiner (VE) exam session schedules, given the restrictions imposed on gatherings in many places.  ARRL states the health and safety of VEs is a top priority, and provided guidance to VEs that they need to follow their local community’s guidelines and then use their best judgement when deciding whether to conduct, postpone, or cancel an exam session.  They recommend anyone interested in taking a scheduled exam verify that the VE team will conduct the exam session. On April 2, 2020 ARRL issued further guidance to all members and VEs.

The Vicksburg Amateur Radio Club realizes that several of its planned activities may eventually be canceled or postponed.  We have no idea what may be affected or for how long.  While we do provide links to various contests and other activities, we have no control over those.  We suggest contacting those organizers directly for information about their events (it may be safe to assume that everything in the next three months is either canceled or postponed). Everyone should remain flexible in their plans.  Announcements of any changes will be made on the weekly scheduled MissLou Emergency Net call-in, and also posted to this website or facebook.

NOTE in response to emergency measures taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Vicksburg Amateur Radio Club will hold its meetings over-the-air on its K5ZRO 2-meter repeater (147.27 MHz).  This current challenge is an opportunity for our club’s members to get on the air, as well as maintaining the continuity of our monthly meetings.  The club will return to in-person meetings and events as soon as the current situation allows.  Please be patient with us as we do our part to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Last updated May 1, 2020.