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Can You Get The Coronavirus While Surfing

Updated April 2, 2020

COVID-19 is creating some major havoc in my life. I surf most days, but the one question that came up early for me on this journey is can I still keep surfing during all this chaos?

I need it. Surfing.

Surfing is my air and helps the blood course through my veins. Without it, I feel lost and get depressed.

To surf or not to surf? This is something I have been thinking about since the virus started to spread. It's not easy to find a clear answer.

I am grateful to the Surfrider Foundation for publishing an article on the topic. Normally, not-for-profit organizations silently do their work in the background without too much notice but when all hell breaks loose, we are always glad they are there. Like now.

It is time for us to honor these organizations and place more value on mission-centric visions in our world. While you are at home contemplating life, throw some brainpower on how we could all live in a better world.

Send me your thoughts or post a comment below.

The first question that you need to ask when contemplating surfing during COVID-19: Can you distance yourself from people while surfing?

You don't want to be close to someone in the water. They could sneeze or cough up the virus in your vicinity. Just like walking through the streets, you need to distance yourself from everyone.

The bigger question that doesn't have an answer yet is if the virus can live and be spread through ocean saltwater. In a scenario where it could live in saltwater, things are exponentially more dangerous.

Katie Day, a staff scientist at Surfrider Foundation, said: "it’s unclear if swimming at saltwater beaches elevates the risk."

In her report, she goes on to say the following:

There was no information shared on the ability of the COVID-19 virus to remain viable in saltwater, so it’s unclear if swimming at saltwater beaches elevates the risk of contracting COVID-19. However, communal spread is a serious issue so spending time at popular beaches, if in close contact to other beachgoers, will increase your risk.

Day also warns against sewage spills or overflows that could contain the virus:

Due to the current uncertainty, areas affected by sewage spills, leaks or overflows, or have high numbers of septic tanks, cesspools or homeless populations could have increased risk for potential transmission of the virus in affected waterways. Local health authorities post warnings to protect public health from exposure to many different harmful pathogens in sewage that can make you sick.

I am not going to tell you what is right or wrong here, but hopefully, you understand the risks based on what the experts are saying and not your Facebook friends.

Personally I spit and occasionally swallow water while surfing—both not conducive to remaining safe.

If it's raining, like right now as I write this, I'd stay the fuck out.

If you can surf in uncrowded surf with nobody around—well, it's your call. If you are surfing major breaks and there are lots of people in the water you are tempting fate.

Here is the latest on Surfrider scientists views on saltwater environments:

COVID-19 cases have since been confirmed in all 50 states. While there still has not been confirmation about the ability of the COVID-19 virus to remain infectious in saltwater environments, a preliminary study from Germany indicates that the virus is no longer infectious once it passes through the digestive system (AKA sewage may not be a transmission route) but this study has yet to be peer-reviewed, so additional information is still needed to confirm. 

Here are some solid links:⁣⁣⁣

Please be safe.

For anyone that still thinks this is like the flu and you aren't on full lockdown, I would encourage you to listen to these two podcast episodes.

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