President’s Letter - Impact of COVID-19
In this month's letter, I want to share with you the decisions being made by the Board regarding the impact of COVID-19 on HBC events.
The first case of COVID-19 was identified in Minnesota last week. As of yesterday, there were 9 cases in Minnesota. The day before, there were 3 cases. Thus, we are officially part of the pandemic. This is reality and should not be taken lightly by anyone.
Current scientific consensus is that COVID-19 spreads via droplets from coughing. The range of droplet spread is about 6 feet. What happens when the droplets land on surfaces? The consensus is that this virus may survive on surfaces for up to 9 days. Doorknobs, tables, gas pumps, car doors, and even bicycle handlebars are all examples of potential vectors for spreading infection. The incubation period is thought to be between 3-12 days, with 50% of cases becoming symptomatic at 5 days after exposure.
As for management, it is too late for containment (preventing the arrival of the virus). We must focus now on mitigation: reducing the impact of the infection. You’ve likely heard about the simple, effective strategy of social distancing. It is the most important option there is for mitigation. This means keeping people at home as much as possible, for as long as it takes, until this recedes.
Social distancing limits exposure to, and transmission of, droplets in the air and on surfaces. Think about any event you usually attend, from book clubs to religious services to gatherings like the Birthday Bash (for example). Can you imagine staying 6 feet away from everyone else (or even 3 feet)? Or not touching a single thing around you? Any group setting potentially increases exposure risk.
The Board recommends paying close attention to CDC and local public health department guidelines regarding the recommended level of social distancing. As of today, CDC guidelines state that communities at minimal to moderate risk (that’s us) should:
Many HBC members meet the criteria for being high-risk. Examples include diabetes, older age, hypertension, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.
Based on this as well as current disease projections, the Board has decided to cancel Smart Cycling (March 27) and the April Birthday Bash (April 3). Ride Leader Training will likely be rescheduled, but the final decision may be made 4-5 days beforehand. And finally, the May 3 Spring Banquet will possibly be rescheduled to a later date, however, that decision may not happen until 2 weeks beforehand.
What about scheduled rides? One might argue that the benefit of exercise (and stress reduction!) outweighs the risk of infectious spread or exposure. But riding (or doing anything) with a group of people still presents a higher risk of spreading the virus than remaining socially distanced at home. Remember, it isn’t just about how much risk you are willing to take in becoming infected. It’s also about the risk of spreading the infection to those around you before you develop symptoms. At present, the Board feels that scheduling and/or participating in rides remains an individual decision. Ride leaders and riders should be vigilant in following recommended public health recommendations accordingly.
Lastly, what about TDA? Since we don’t know yet how long mitigation efforts will be continued, it is too soon to know how COVID-19 will affect TDA. We will be proactive in keeping the riders as well as the volunteers as safe as possible. The Board and the TDA planning team will keep you informed if and when any changes may be needed.
If you are interested in reading more about what has and has not worked globally in managing the spread of COVID-19, consider reading the following easy-to-read article: “Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now”.
It is well-written in simple terms, though lengthy. It is worth taking the time to read, even though bicycling isn’t mentioned even once.
Stay safe and pay attention. When this is over (and it will be), think how grateful we will be to get on our bikes and ride to our hearts’ content.