by Lisa Soldat, MD – Hiawatha Bicycling Club (HBC) President
As a physician, I have been closely monitoring the CDC, WHO and other databases to understand how this virus is behaving, and steps to contain its spread. It is too early to know just how serious this virus is. Current mortality is estimated to be roughly 2%, but that figure will likely change as detection and reporting improve. In comparison, mortality to “the flu” is roughly 0.1%, and the SARS virus was about 10%. The genome of the virus is completely sequenced but it will take well more than a year (probably longer) before an effective vaccine is ready.
I have reviewed reports coming from some bicycling clubs in Washington State, where COVID-19 is active. HBC may eventually be faced with the same decisions that they are making now.
COVID-19 Advice for Bike Groups (and others)
Generally, they are recommending that their members follow guidelines from their state and local public health departments. They are regularly assessing whether to hold planned events as scheduled (for example, holding meetings remotely rather than in person). Bike rides continue to be scheduled with the understanding that adjustments may be needed to protect rider safety.
You’ve likely heard these precautions before, but they bear repeating. Some are CDC and WHO recommendations and some are more specific to bicycling:
- Stay at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and a slight runny nose, until you recover. (WHO)
- Bring a handkerchief or rag to carry on the ride. Kleenex, tissues and such don’t do so well when mixed with sweat.
- Masks do not provide protection. The virus is spread by respiratory droplets (from coughing or sneezing). The virus particles are so tiny that they pass easily through the material. If you are ill yourself, using a face mask may help limit droplets spread by coughing or sneezing. (CDC)
- Practice a no-touch policy. Avoid shaking hands, unnecessary hugs and the like. We all love each other for sure but show a little restraint for now.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth (WHO)
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, and then throw the tissue in the trash. (CDC)
- On the ride, no snot rockets or spitting, or… drop off the very back of the group to perform this action.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. (CDC)
- Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects (handlebars, water bottles, gloves, etc) using regular household detergent and water prior to disinfection. (CDC)
Another thing we should consider: Pay attention to the people in your group. If anyone appears visibly ill, don’t be shy. Consider asking them to not ride with the group that day. We all think we can “tough it out”, but in reality, no one wants to be the cause of making someone else sick.
HBC is committed to keeping members safe, informed, and happy. As the situation in our area changes, we will do our best to keep you informed on how club activities may be impacted.
Lisa Soldat, HBC President