The contagion rate of the Omicron virous is serious. For example, this last Fall there were typically five students absent from Huntley High School on any given day due to Covid; since the Holidays, that number has increased to 50+. In ham-speak, that is an increase of 10 dB and significant.
Anecdotally, there have been several hams on the 2-meter machines discussing family members that have contracted the virus. Many times, these members have been vaccinated.
In addition, attendance has decreased at our meeting and planned activities. Members are rightfully concerned and cautious.
To encourage participation in our business meetings by more members, without endangering their health, I personally purchased a conference style, omni directional microphone and a Zoom membership. My intent is to offer hybrid meetings (meetings that are both in-person and virtual) for the foreseeable future.
For the first meeting on January 20th, we will use a fixed-field camera. The video is not going to be great or perhaps, even good. But this is going to begin an ongoing effort to improve our audio and video over time. We will be seeking suggestions for improvement from the members that attend the meetings. For future meetings, we will probably need someone to control the AV equipment.
Ham radio operators have always adopted and adapted technology to overcome challenges. We need to do the same for our meetings and activities. I suspect we will be able to relax some of our efforts later this Spring, perhaps as early as April.
We need to recognize that there is a new “normal” that requires us to develop new methods to mitigate the challenges of 2022. The alternative is to continuously postpone our activities until we can return to the normal of 2019. In my mind, returning to 2019 is counterproductive. We need to push forward, overcoming the challenges as we go.