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The Lake Is No Vaccine

A week or so ago, the county announced that there had been on one day 13 new COVID infections. That was quite a shock since our numbers had been relatively low up until then.

Come to find out, some of those infections occurred on or before the Fourth of July, and the infected were primarily young people partying on boats up the lake. There were a couple of takes for me on that announcement:

¯ social distancing is still important even when you are congregating outside; and

¯ young people can spread the disease and become infected as easily as old people.

Admittedly, the data shows that old-timers my age are more likely to die from a COVID infection. Yet, young people should not think that they are “bullet-proof” from this infection–they could likely suffer long-term effects if they contract the disease.

The tremendous amount of boat traffic on the lake is evidence that water provides one avenue for people who have been cooped up with quarantine and social separation to get out and enjoy mother nature. There is also a lot of evidence that being outside is better than being inside when it comes to protecting yourself from the disease.

Nevertheless, people should not treat the lake like it is a vaccine which will, under any circumstances, protect them from COVID infection. You still have to use your common sense, stay a “sensible” distance from other people and avoid congregating in big groups.

Maybe, in a 30-knot wind, the breath and droplets from an infected person will dissipate. But, who wants to be out on the lake in those conditions? The times you need to be especially cautious are on hot, windless days when everyone wants to tie their boat up next to a neighbor, go swimming, cool off and have a big party.

One article I read recently illustrates how this COVID-19 virus continues to change and mutate. The “Wuhan” strain, is not the same as the “Italian strain,” and both probably differ slightly from the “New York City” or now the “Florida/Texas” strain.

Some versions of the infections are less deadly but seem to be more transmissible. Early on, it seemed that this virus primarily targeted the lungs. But, new data suggests that it is a vascular disease and focuses its wrath on where blood cells are more dense in the human body which includes the lungs, kidneys and even the brain. This is a new “monster” we are looking at… not just another flu bug.

So, when do we get out of this? I know that we all say: “the sooner, the better.” But, my gut and what I am reading says that it will probably be another year before we are “out-of-the-woods” on this one.

We have another winter coming when most of us will be inside clustered around our stoves and fireplaces trying to stay 6 feet apart. That might actually be the time to be out on the Lake. The ice fishermen don’t seem to care if the wind is blowing at 5 knots or 30 knots. They just keep their space, hunker down over their lines, and wait for the walleye to bite.

Still the same truth applies then as now — the lake is not a vaccine. It is a respite, a place to get away from it all and enjoy the day. We should not ask more of the lake than it can deliver.

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.

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