Monthly Manager Moments
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By Greg Schmidt, Aquatics Manager
“Monthly” Manager Moments
Article 31 – Covid-19 vs. Aquatics in 2021
Why monthly in quotes? Because I have not been able to keep a monthly publication schedule, by any stretch of the word. It’s more like twice a year at this point! The title of Monthly Manager Moments just sounded good, so I went with it.
In this article, I want to address the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the inconsistency in response to it by aquatic staff and customers. Let’s look at some of the issues surrounding it.
First - Is the Covid-19 virus so weird that we have no idea how to deal with it, or are we just not dealing with it as we should? In fairness, it seems to be a little of both. Certainly, it IS unusual to have a virus that sweeps the entire globe and kills 5 million people, including 800,000 Americans. It is also certainly true that we are not always dealing with it as we should.
Second – We’ve obviously seen viruses before, and this one is extremely contagious, particularly the now dominant Delta and Omicron variants. With vaccines widely available, has Covid-19 really become the pandemic of the unvaccinated?
So, what should our response be? In aquatics, we’ve scrambled to make adjustments that are designed to make our pools as safe as possible during the pandemic. At the start (March 2020), we all closed up; and for me it was 6 months before we reopened with major changes in our operation: social distancing, masks, lane reservations, one person per lane, no swim lessons, etc. In July of this year, the infection rate had dropped enough through an aggressive vaccination campaign, that our state lifted most restrictions. By September, we had the Delta Variant raging across the country. Those who were not vaccinated became infected by the thousands, again straining our health care system. I think it’s helpful to look at the hospitalization numbers since Delta has dominated: about 94-95% of hospitalizations and deaths are now unvaccinated persons. The efficacy rate of the Moderna vaccine for example, is also about 94%. That tracks pretty well with what we’d expect, that about 5-6% of the vaccinated persons still get infected, but 94-95% of the them do not, or at least do not get sick enough to require hospitalization. It is the unvaccinated who are primarily driving the hospitalizations and deaths.
Third - So, we’re back to mandatory mask wearing with the added requirement of vaccinations for all employees and students. Does this make sense, or is this unreasonable - and/or a blatant assault on our civil rights? As a person who believes in both the Almighty AND science, I don’t see why so many are digging in their heals about civil rights. To me, being civil is about caring for one another, not just yourself. To quote a really good book: “Do nothing out of selfish desire or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.”
The scientific community recommends mask wearing, especially KN95 masks - to prevent the spread of the virus; and to get fully vaccinated. Being fully vaccinated now also includes a booster at about 6 months after the second vaccine. We’ve been in this mess long enough to know for certain that these two measures really do make a difference. In fact, they may make ALL the difference in beating this microscopic beast into submission. To me, it makes sense to follow the direction of real experts: immunologists, epidemiologists, microbiologists, and doctors who have treated patients infected with Covid-19.
Fourth – This seems to be about who do people trust. I understand why some people distrust the government, or politicians in particular. They don’t always have a stellar track record of honesty. It sometimes seems that their main objective is to get re-elected, regardless of how that is achieved. Persons of influence, whether politicians or not, who are actively spreading misinformation, should not be trusted. Why not? Because they rarely have real data to back up their claims. They just make the claims as truth and their followers believe them, even without evidence, just because their followers trust what they say.
Fifth – In aquatics, our mission should be first to prevent people from drowning by teaching as many as we can to swim and be safe in and around the water. Second, it should be to provide a safe and welcoming facility for people to stay fit and just enjoy being in the water. In order to continue doing that, let’s follow the advice of the experts, not those who are determined to undermine them. Wear your KN95 mask and get fully vaccinated, including a booster. Keep your facility spotless and disinfected. Avoid crowded events that don’t allow social distancing. Accept that Covid-19 is a real enemy that must be beaten, and I think it can be!
EWU Aquatic Center Manager