March 7th, 2021

Exactly One Year Ago, a Memorable Dinner Before a Memorable Year

Feb 23, 2020.

On March 7, 2020, right before CROI here in Boston, a bunch of us ID types planned to get together for a pre-conference dinner. A mixture of Bostonians and out-of-towners who hadn’t seen each other for a while. A chance to catch up before our busiest (and most important) scientific meeting.

What happened?

One person landed in Boston, and promptly got the next flight back to Los Angeles.

Another canceled his flight and never left home. A shame, too, since he was bringing his new partner (whom I still haven’t met). I hear she’s really fun and interesting.

One had to stay home due to a no-travel ruling issued for all his faculty. (Those edicts had not yet come from Harvard, but would a week later.)

A fourth had arrived early for the conference, but was so busy setting up the now “virtual” CROI that dinner for her was out of the question.

And of course, attendees from Europe (especially) already had pulled out of the conference en masse.

You get the idea.

Our numbers for dinner were substantially down, but we still assembled with (mostly) locals. Indoors. Windows closed. It’s winter here in early March. Plenty of hand-washing and, befitting the fomite-centric perspective at the time about SARS-CoV-2 transmission, extra use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer — something I’d never purchased before.

That evening was filled with lots of discussion about the Biogen conference. About China, Italy, Spain, and Iran, and what was undoubtedly coming our way soon. About our frustration with the lack of COVID-19 testing — we ID doctors spent all of February complaining about that, with no answers coming from anywhere. Just painful silence.

And, yes, lots of anxiety.

Now, as CROI starts up again — virtually, of course — I think back to that night. A dinner indoors with friends and colleagues, possible a year ago today but unimaginable since, could now again happen in our (fully vaccinated) future.

Not saying I know when it will happen — just that it could. Hope.

Wow, it’s been a memorable year.

One Response to “Exactly One Year Ago, a Memorable Dinner Before a Memorable Year”

  1. Loretta S says:

    I looked at my EZ Pass record recently. Tomorrow, March 9, will be the one-year anniversary of the last time I crossed the bridge into the city where I work. Hard to believe.

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HIV Information: Author Paul Sax, M.D.

Paul E. Sax, MD

Contributing Editor

NEJM Journal Watch
Infectious Diseases

Biography | Disclosures | Summaries

Learn more about HIV and ID Observations.