Reflections on the Pandemic – 19-Months Later

(Written for the Paddler newsletter of the Rhode Island Canoe/Kayak Association)

For many of us, paddling is more than a hobby, and the folks we paddle with are more than friends. We are part of an amazing community, and like everything else, this community has been turned upside-down by COVID-19.

It has been 19-months since this pandemic began, and social distancing and masking have become facts of life. We now have effective vaccines to stop the spread of this deadly virus, so things should be getting back to normal, but it hasn’t worked out that way. In many parts of the country hospitals are full, and people continue to die as the Delta variant continues to spread. Tragically, COVID-19 has killed more than 600,000 Americans – more deaths than in all the wars of the 20th century combined.

I have received the coronavirus vaccine, and my family has a well. We should be fine, right? It doesn’t feel that way. Even for the vaccinated there is a small risk of break-through infections, and an even smaller risk of serious illness. I also worry about others – kids under 12 who can’t receive the vaccine, the elderly and those who are immunocompromised, and adults who choose not to get vaccinated. What if I spread it to them?

Even though I am vaccinated I still take steps to protect myself and others. I still wear a mask, maintain social distancing and limit my time indoors – especially in close quarters around large groups. Am I overreacting? Maybe, but it is clear to me that this pandemic is far from over.

If we have learned anything from this pandemic, though, it is the devastating effect of social isolation and the importance of physical activity. Throughout this pandemic paddling has been a lifeline for me. Now that I live and work at home, there is no better way to escape the house than to paddle.

During the initial lock-down, I did my paddling alone and close to home. As restrictions were lifted, we started to meet in small groups for up-and-back trips that didn’t involve a shuttle, often early in the morning before the crowds filled the parking lots. Now that I am vaccinated, my trips have a more normal feel. We are outside and socially distant. If we need to shuttle, we can roll down the windows and wear masks. The risk seems relatively low.

The restrictions of the pandemic forced all of us to look at familiar places in new ways. We realized that it is not necessary to travel to enjoy a day on the water. For me, whitewater trips have taken a backseat to local flatwater trips. Crashing waves have been replaced with easy currents as we once again explore the twists and turns of nearby rivers and streams. No matter where we are it is great to be outside with friends and disconnected from depressing news and social media.

As we move forward, hopefully everyone will do their part to get COVID-19 in the rear-view mirror. In the meantime, there are trips that call us - get out there and paddle!


Taught me how stupid people are. Guy on his boat fishing alone with a mask, people driving in cars alone with a mask, people walking down the road with a mask and nobody within 100 yards of them. Yes I have seen a few paddling with a mask also. All at this late date today they are playing the victim poor me.


I agree that those are examples of an over abundance of caution (or paranoia). But is this “stupidity” any worse than the calvalier attitude of those who seemingly discount that we are in the thick of a pandemic with 600k dead and counting? We just took time as a nation to mourn the 3000 plus deaths of 9/11 but some can blithely ignore the 3000 plus that have been dying every day for past several weeks…

How smart/stupid is it to ignore a free vaccine at the risk of spending (surviving) 4-5 weeks in an ICU (that has economic and social impact not only for the afflicted but for ALL of us)? Worse, yet, were those who spent weeks on intubation only to pass anyway, leaving family members, or just kids behind…

How smart/stupid is it to wear a PFD, or not, while paddling alone on a scenic lake? So, we live/die by our choices. But, there is an impact of our “personal choice” for others waiting for us at home.



Ever consider some of those folks simply forgot they were wearing a mask?

But yes, I agree this whole thing has taught me how stupid some people are.


No I can’t see a person with a brain forgetting they’re wearing a mask on their face. Ok if someone walks out of store it may take a minute on the way to the out car to pull it off. These people are near nobody for a good long while. I even paddled by a park on the water women jogging with a mask on. One other person in the park fishing 400 feet away. Insanity to say the least in 80°+ weather.

We got the shot and we’re glad to get it. I know 14-15 people who got COVID. 4 died, two with life lasting affects in their 40-60 range. That said if you don’t want to get it fine mask up but not when your on the moon alone. Yes I wiped my credit card and had lotion for my hands when it started nobody was sure what was going on. Now people are playing poor me or so uninformed it’s pathetic.


:+1: to you Eckilson.

Fully vaccinated, and mask indoors outside of my home. I also have an immune disorder. I do get out hunting, paddling, sailing, and have done a couple of camping trips with vaccinated paddling friends. I for one don’t care if someone wears a mask walking outside or driving in a car. You might even see me in a car wearing mine as I drive around our small rural town running errands simply because it is more convenient than taking it off and putting it on. I will also wear it in a crowded outdoor setting.

Here in the South I often paddle with a buff or bandana on since I don’t use sunscreen. I also wear long pants, long sleeve shirts, and a hat all year long because UV light can cause my immune condition to flair up. We each have individual health situations. Outside I stay up wind if possible, which is the opposite of what I do while hunting with a longbow. All of these are the behaviors I am comfortable with making. None of them are impactful to others in the way of not wearing a mask indoors, in a crowd, or being unvaccinated can be.

If someone judges what I do as insane, I just don’t give a flip. Heck, they might be right since I would rather paddle or sail than use a motor while on the water. I know people that think paddling is insane, or at the very least stupid.


I wear hats, long sleeves, gloves, and even rash guard pants this year for bugs and drips.

I like to breathe air not carbon dioxide. So at a minimum I’d pull it down on my chin for storage when clear of people. Covid doesn’t fly 100 feet outside and infect people. It doesn’t jump off people’s car dash or fly to your boat while paddling or fishing. If that was true half the world population would be fine if not more. Mask don’t even fit right when you breath it may change the angle of your breath. Cloth masks stop little. Small plexiglass partitions it goes right over. Masks don’t fit many faces that’s why OSHA makes people go to get a mask fitting if wearing a respirator mask. They fit more faces better than paper masks.

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I’m very easily burned and dislike sun screen dripping into my eyes, so I always wear a face covering when paddling on sunny or partly sunny days. Probably some people think I’m wearing a mask and that I’m stupid.


Someone alone in a car wearing a mask could have just dropped someone off, could be picking someone up imminently, could have forgotten, could not care, could be trolling all the freedumb nutters out there who apparently find it annoying when someone exercises their freedom to wear whatever they please wherever they please.

Was it smoky when you saw these folks? You know it’s been smoky lately. No… they were just dumbies. :roll_eyes:


They were long past dropping someone off. Drive for a distance and it’s still on them. Walking down a road nobody near you is paranoid. They can wear ten masks but I can have my thoughts also.

Something against freedom?

It boils down to this:

People who wear masks even without other people around are not harming anybody else in any way.

People who don’t wear masks around others may be harming others, including people who want to but cannot get vaccinated.

There is nothing either Poor Me or unfree about wearing a mask when one is not required. In fact, it is a very free choice to do so.

Methinks the word “dumb” is being applied to the wrong people.


They can wear a dunce hat too. I can also comment on it. People I comment on are hundreds of feet away from anyone, on boats alone, or in cars alone. If it was that contagious we all be dead. People who already had covid have better immunity than a vaccinated person. Do now you tell them get a shot or you can’t go to work or go in a store?

Carbon dioxide is not good to breath.

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I’m reluctant to post to this thread as it is not really paddling related but covid is surrounding every aspect of our lives every day for the last 19 months. If paddling is part of your life and covid played a big part of it this last year. For some of us covid is a big part of why we started paddling in fact.

It is here to stay I have read a number of studies and it is not something that we are going to beat. It will be something we have to live with. The initial lockdown and masking protocol was not to defeat it. If you remember it was to flatten the curve and give medical a chance to ramp up for it and to not overwhelm the medical system. There was even talk about flattening the curve could involve more people under the curve but over a longer time span and that was the goal. All this extra time and an extraordinary effort on developing 3 different vaccines in record time and then smartly getting them out to seniors and high-risk people was spot on. In our case she got covid last Halloween and I followed a week later. She got tested and when I had the same symptoms they told me to assume I had it and to not bother wasting a test. We stayed clear of all others for the 14 days and then some and hers knocked her down pretty good for over a week and mine was like a bad cold for a week. We were lucky we didn’t have it worse and recovered fully without any treatment. When the shots came out being over 65 I got mine first and there was little out at the time about natural immunity of those that had it. So now I have natural along with being immunized with the two shots and if my doctor recommends a boaster I will get that. This years normal flu shot is now out and I will get it next week I have had the shingles shot as well as pneumonia shot, so I’m not a non vaccination person in any way.

The shots have been out long enough now and widely available that anyone that wants one has had plenty of chance to get one. If you add the number of people with natural immunity to the ones that have received both shots, or the single shot. I believe we are well on our way to having this under control at least that is my hopes.

Now it is time to figure out where this came from and why it started?

For me and my family our lives are back to normal 99%. Life is full of unseen dangers and I chose to enjoy life while I have it over excessive worrying about what might end it. I’m not telling others what they should do only saying what I’m doing. Same with taking the shots. Figure it out yourself and do what is right for you and yours.

We went out to dinner last night with a dozen other people. Not quite the French Laundry but similar. One family came with a mother, father and teen daughter and the father and daughter were the only people with masks. They had them on 100% of the time unless they were seated with us to eat and then took them off. I sat there thinking how did moving about 2 feet make it ok to unmask if in your mind you saw the need to mask to be there. I also wondered in the close bond of a family how the mother wasn’t part of the masking plan. She runs a public business where people come off the street and buy from her unmasked. The masks have almost become a symbol IMO for many.

I don’t think that we should judge. Vaccines don’t work well for the immunocompromised and that they are getting out is great. If you wear a mask its not my business. I wear a mask in the car if I have several quick stops. Otherwise I will forget it. I am not playing victim . Neither is your average chemo patient. Neither is a parent with a kid that isn’t eligible for the shots.

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Oh you are an epidemiologist too? Your statements are insane. If masks caused CO2 toxicity, your surgeon would be incapacitated. My daughter in health care wears one 8 hours a day… And you keyboard warrior are the expert.


I can read information with common sense people with compromised immunity are small.

They don’t where a mask all day in surgery. I have used masks at work for silica it’s not on all day. Zero reason when you’re near nobody hundreds of feet to have a mask on. Follow the science.

I lost two wives to cancer. I’ve had a lot of experience with immuno-compromised. They have problems with normal infections before covid. A cold virus can kill 'em. Wife #2 hit a downward spiral when she got listeria, a common thing found in processed foods. They wear masks and gloves when white cell counts are low and just cause it makes 'em feel better. AND when you have a life threatening condition anything that makes you feel better is a good thing.


A rather disturbing number was reached Tuesday evening. That number is 1 in 500 Americans have died from Covid-19. I don’t know the ratio of Americans with long haul symptoms, but suspect it is worse.

Another number that may not be commonly known is 3 to 4% of adults are said to be immunocompromised in American. So, 1 out of every 25 to 33 people you might see should be wearing a mask in public all the time. You can’t tell who they are by looking at them either.

In public you might be hundreds of feet from the next person, but then right next to several people a few minutes later.


Ouch. That is a frighteningly vivid statistic. Very sad that we haven’t been able to do better. A poor portent for solving other world problems.

Anyway I often have some of the same feelings Paddledog relates when I see people doing things I think are stupid. Like a certain relative of mine (who will go unnamed :grin:) insists on wearing a mask when walking outside with no one at all around. She’s not immunocompromised, just a hypochondriac.

But hey, it’s her choice to do it and it’s my choice to secretly think it’s stupid. I’m sure I’ve done things she secretly thinks are stupid, that probably are stupid, so whatever.

We’re all human and we all sometimes do stupid things. But thinking someone else is stupid won’t hurt them, as long as you’re not so stupid that you can’t keep it to yourself.