Submitted by Rebecca Sauer, RN CPAN
My name is Rebecca Sauer, and I am a critical care nurse at UCSD. I am responding to Mayor Bailey’s decision to keep Coronado beaches open to the public, a stance with which I strongly disagree.
When I arrived in San Diego 10 years ago, I found my way to Coronado Beach on the very first day. It was May, a little chilly, and the beach was empty. I dipped my toes for the first time in the Pacific, and was greeted by a small pod of bottlenose dolphins. Although it would take 7 years to obtain that 92118 address, I was already home. For me, the beach- this beach, is life.
Coronado is an incredibly special community. As with any small town, just like a family, we have divergent opinions, we bicker, and we can be diametrically opposed politically. When crisis or tragedy strikes however, we pull together. I believe that this is no exception. The local Facebook pages are rife with citizens offering their help and support for those in need.
This novel coronavirus and its resulting disease process, COVID-19, is an unprecedented occurrence for our community, state, country and planet within our lifetimes. To be in a state of shock accompanied by a bit of denial is not surprising. This happened FAST. We live in a world of social media and highly manipulated and filtered images. The internet has given a disproportionate voice to even the most fringe and aberrant members of society. We are inundated with information, and it can be an enormous challenge to process it all.
So here we are, being bombarded with sometimes questionable information and advice by self-proclaimed experts. Ulterior motives are rampant, and advice that IS trustworthy is unnervingly dynamic, ever-changing, and constantly updating. As medical professionals, we rely exclusively on rigorously-tested evidence-based science, not heresay, not anecdotes. I am here to tell you that COVID-19 is most assuredly NOT the flu. It is NOT limited to the elderly; in fact, hospitalizations in San Diego County are being seen primarily in the 20-39 year old age group. It is HIGHLY infectious. Individuals who are infected with the virus may remain asymptomatic for as long as 14 days. Many may remain asymptomatic, never showing signs or symptoms, but all the while, shedding virus and being infectious to others. Their coughs, sneezes, and breath can keep the virus aerosolized for approximately 3 hours. So that stroll down the Ocean Boulevard sidewalk when it is congested by people IS a serious health risk. It is anything but the social distancing recommended by every single medical, epidemiological, and other scientific body. Those banisters leading to our beaches? Novel coronavirus can remain on surfaces for as long as 17 days.
As of yesterday, FOUR San Diego lifeguards have tested positive for COVID-19. Our little community has its fair share of elderly, immunocompromised, and other especially vulnerable groups. As a community, do we not each shoulder a responsibility to them? We haven’t come anywhere close to what we are going to see in a few weeks, here in our own backyard. We cannot bury our heads in our beautiful mica-flecked sand, willfully ignorant to that reality. We simply DO NOT have the medical infrastructure in this area to safely withstand the coming onslaught. In Italy, Spain, and New York, as in other smaller, less well-publicized areas, decisions are being made. Decisions about who gets a ventilator and who dies. How much more convincing do we need that we MUST take social distancing with the utmost gravity?
I adore our beach. I love walking on it, having my kid go gleefully nuts playing on it, and just seeing the view from the bridge as I return home from a grueling hospital shift is incredibly calming. We ALL love the beach. That’s not the issue. We are ALL going stir-crazy in our self-isolation. We ALL need to get out of the house. And the actual beach? It really isn’t all that crowded, right? But the sidewalks ARE. The walkways ARE. The extra influx of non-residents into our places of business puts an unnecessary and avoidable added burden with regard to exposures. Open beaches are a clarion call to the outside public. It means more people, more cross-contamination, closer proximities and less social distancing.
We have a communal responsibility. It is the social and moral responsibility of each and every one of us to take the MAXIMUM amount of precautions at this time. I personally will be irritable and depressed to be unable to go to the beach, but we are NOT entitled to play Russian roulette with the health of our neighbors. I am prepared to risk my LIFE to care for you in the hospital. You should be prepared and willing to tolerate some temporary discomfort and inconvenience to save lives. Because that’s the bottom line of what we’re really talking about. Setting aside our WANTS for the sake of our NEEDS. We love and adore our distinguished WWII veteran, Tom Rice. Imagine his sacrifices. Our sacrifice is to close our beach for a few months to protect him. To protect all of us.
Rebecca Sauer, RN CPAN
In the interest of reducing the spread of COVID-19, members of the public are encouraged to submit their comments via voicemail by calling (619) 522-2642 or online at the following link: https://www.coronado.ca.us/cms/One.aspx?portalId=746090&pageId=16586977&fbclid=IwAR0VbgIPREC4W1RldQM7go-uISlmhg86h0RG_mCQHg9aUiJ1n0kPPJba8wc