Burning Man's Canceled And Should Be News To No One Because PANDEMIC

by Christina Marfice
Frederic Larson/San Francisco Chronicle/Getty

Organizers just announced that Burning Man, one of the largest gatherings of people from all over the world, is canceled, and how is this a surprise to anyone?

While vaccines are becoming more plentiful and easier to access (at least in the U.S.), I have news for people: We’re still super in a pandemic. The U.S. is still reporting an average of 50,000 to 70,000 new COVID-19 cases every day, as well as more than 700 daily deaths. That’s right — while things may be getting a lot safer for those who are fully vaccinated, more than 700 people are still dying from this virus every day. This isn’t over, folks. So why are people surprised that Burning Man is canceled again this year?

The annual arts and counterculture festival usually takes place in the fall in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert, drawing tens of thousands of people from all over the world to a makeshift city that’s built in the sand. But this year, organizers rightly stayed on the side of caution, and canceled the festival, with plans to return in 2022.

According to the Burning Man website, the decision was made after organizers spent months deliberating and collecting feedback from past participants on subjects like vaccine requirements and racial diversity.

“But, although here in the United States we may be feeling the weight lifting and the light at the end of the tunnel brightening, we are still in the pandemic, and the uncertainties that need to be resolved are impossible to resolve in the time we have,” they wrote.

No kidding. More than 700 deaths a day isn’t uncertainty, it’s a reality.

Of course, there were feelings about it on the internet.

Instead of gathering tens of thousands of people in close quarters in camps in the desert, Burning Man will instead hold a virtual festival this year. That’s scheduled to take place from August 21 to September 5.

It may seem confusing that Burning Man is canceled when so many other things are opening up. Sports games are allowing more and more fans as vaccination levels in the population increase. Indoor dining and bars are now open and allowed across much of the country. But should they be? When 700 people are still dying every day, wouldn’t it be better to wait a few more months, distribute more vaccines, and make sure things are really safe before opening up?

Burning Man made the right choice in canceling this year’s festival. Now if only other events would follow suit and keep their attendees safe, as well.