The recent Miami Bitcoin 2021 conference has been making the headlines for all the wrong reasons – after a number of attendees tested positive for COVID-19, with some reporting they had been hospitalized with symptoms.
Among those taken ill after the event last weekend were Eric Wall, of Arcane Research, who tweeted that he had been to a hospital for a scan on his lungs after suspected coronavirus-related blood clots. (No clots were found and he was sent home.)
Bloomberg claimed individuals attending the event had admitted Miami Bitcoin had become a “hotspot” for the virus.
CNBC reported that “no mask mandate” had been put in place and that and “proof of vaccination was not required” at the event, with little thought given to social distancing measures – despite estimations that 12,000 people attended.
Even organizers were quoted as stating that they had warned “those who were high risk or hadn’t been vaccinated” to stay away and “consider waiting until next year.”
Some sought to downplay the reports, with writer and broadcaster Gigi claiming on Twitter that he had experienced no symptoms despite “close contact” with a lot of people at the event.
The Block’s Director of Research Larry Cermack bristled at the media coverage, providing screenshots of media outlets’ attempts to contact him. Outlets such as CNBC, he stated, had been in touch to ask questions about whether certificates of vaccination had been required at the event. He wrote:
“Looks like every mainstream news outlet is working on a story about COVID and Miami. There have been so many better things to focus on, this is a joke.”
Cermack was challenged on the matter by Matthew Graham of Sino Global Capital, who claimed that “if” the outbreak “actually turns into a superspreader situation,” he “would actually take the other side on this,” adding that it was “newsworthy.”
But Cermack retorted:
“It’s less than 10 people who tested positive so far, most people who were there were vaccinated, my shitpost tweet was an obvious joke. There are sports events and concerts in the US happening now with way, way more people. Most of the comment requests are insensitive, honestly.”
Health professionals took a different tack.
Kim (first name withheld) is a senior nurse at one of Seoul’s biggest university-affiliated hospitals. She spoke to Cryptonews.com, explaining that large indoor meetups – no matter where they take place – were both “risky” and “a little reckless,” in “the current climate.”
“While I don’t work with coronavirus patients directly, I do work in a hospital that deals with patients who’ve caught the disease. And I can say that most appear to be unvaccinated individuals who have caught it from indoor scenarios that involve close contact.”
And she added that now may not be the best time to transition away from virtual summits, with vaccination programs still ongoing in many areas. She concluded:
“I don’t know anything about cryptocurrency, but I know that most of the people who buy bitcoin and so on are tech-savvy. If that’s the case, I don’t see why they aren’t holding events like these online – that’s certainly what I’d advise them to do until we’ve got this disease totally under control.”
A number of South Korean coronavirus outbreaks have been linked to in-person, indoor meetups of crypto-related groups – although most of these appear to have involved alleged pyramid schemes masquerading as bona fide crypto exchanges or crypto projects.
On Reddit, many were non-plussed, with one quipping:
“Large gathering spreads contagious virus. More at 11.”