Of course they work if no one infected with the virus come to the event. That’s what we all want – the first level where those who feel sick stay home. But what happens if a person who is Covid-19 positive shows up at an event? Will our distancing, our mask rules, our elimination of gathering points be good enough to prevent an orienteering event from becoming a super spreader event?
Suncoast Orienteering resumed live orienteering and had our first event of the New Year back in January. It only took that one event to have our safety practices tested and we came out fine. And more importantly our participants followed the safety guidelines we have in place and have continued to follow them at each of our four subsequent events. Events have ranged in size from 170 to 290 participants.
What happened in January? Our events are limited to pre-registered groups only. In this case it was a high school JROTC team. A parent of a student at one school was sick and had tested positive for the coronavirus. The student should not have gone to school but he did. He was tested but apparently said he had not got the test result. He should not have gone with the orienteering team but he did. The leader did not find out about the positive test and the illness until two days after the event.
So there we are with 170 JROTC cadets at an orienteering event. Each team has an area spaced out from the others. Each team has its own start intervals. No other team starts at the same minute, no orienteers on the same course start within two minutes of each other. Masks are worn until the orienteer picks up the map. There ws no pre-event welcome and safety briefing. All the important information was sent out ahead of time. There was to be be no awards ceremony and the teams left as soon as the last member returned from the course.
What about the ‘corona kid’? At the event he had hung around with his team only. Like all the other teams they were masked and as distanced as possible considering they had a 90 minute bus ride in each direction. He was then out of school until better and tested negative. His close associates were kept home until tested negative. The school district has a quarantine policy that was followed. The lad had not been near any cadets from any other schools. There were no reports from his school or the other schools of there being further positive test results or any symptoms of the illness.
Their whole team was kept out of the next event.
In other years as event director I would have been around to at least several of the teams, seeing how they were doing and talking route choices, etc. The team in question would have been one for sure. This year: no schmoozing for me. It sucks to not be able to interact with these great young people who at least for a little while are loving orienteering but it is a price that has to be paid.
Thanks for the report Gordhun. It's nice to know the mitigation efforts were successful.
Do you use e-punch at the events?
Sport ident timing sticks and some rental p-cards, yes.
I'm a long time attackpointer, but am using an assumed name for purpose of this post to protect the identity of the rule violator who came to an event, even though spouse was positive:
We had a person who came to an in-person event that had total attendance of around 100 people, even though person's domestic partner was home sick and had tested positive. This person not only ran a course, but also socialized with others, assisted in picking up controls and loading and transporting equipment. During that time, the person was in very close proximity to me and other volunteers, including a couple individuals in high risk groups. The next day, the person came down with a bad cough and, you guessed it, a few days later had a case that progressed into pneumonia and was diagnosed as positive.
As far as we know, no transmission occurred at the event despite the fact that this person did significantly more than just showing up, running, and going home. So we certainly feel that the combination of being outdoors and our mitigation efforts was quite effective.
Thanks for sharing. On the one hand, it's good to know that thus far, we haven't had any transmissions. On the other, it's concerning that people are not following screening guidelines for participation.
I hope these examples don't lead us to conclude we can relax our vigilance. In a my other circles that meet in person (school, scouts), I've seen numerous examples of people erring on the safe side and not participating in a highly-desirable activity because they met our screening criteria for not being with the group, whether indoors or outdoors. I respect those decisions, and I support those who make those choices for orienteering, too.
Again, thanks for sharing - this can be a hard thing to talk about without a lot of finger-pointing.
Good to hear reports from my fellow orienteers and meet directors. I feel much better about having outdoor events now. Dr Fauci is a great guy, but it means a lot to also hear it from fellow APers. I have been isolating for most of the last 12 months, but ready to get out again and resume (somewhat) normal activities.
Thanks for the above case studies, gordhun and covidian. These cases underscore why it is so important to have and enforce simple safety practices, chiefly distancing and mask wearing. Screening will only prevent some (maybe even most) contagious people from coming to an event. It is likely that across enough events, the law of large numbers will mean that a very small number of potentially contagious people will attend an event, either because of denial, oversight, lack of awareness, or disregard for the safety rules.
Thankfully, it is pretty hard to transmit COVID-19 outdoors, so only disregard for masking and distancing guidelines will produce any significant possibility of transmission.
Several weeks ago, I and a couple others had an outdoors and distanced lunch with two people who turned out to have COVID-19, tested positive upon testing within a day or two of our lunch, and thus may have been contagious at the time. The two other people and I tested negative in repeated tests and never developed symptoms.
One of the other people had been in much closer proximity to the infected two, including spending time side-by-side indoors, whereas the other two of us had been distanced (across a large patio table) and outdoors virtually the entire time (with less than one minute inside to get water or more food). There was a light breeze blowing from the side of the uninfected people toward the infected people. Given all this, even before we were tested, I regarded the two of us who remained distanced as unlikely to have gotten COVID-19, while I regarded the other person who had been in closer proximity and indoors as being at much higher risk of infection. Still, we all did a 14-day self-quarantine at our respective homes, which was an inconvenience that we were glad to be done with by the end.
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